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Housing is not a partisan issue: Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, business and labor all believe that everyone should have a safe, secure and affordable home. But safe, secure and affordable housing is too often taken for granted by those of us who are satisfied with our housing situation.
The Partnership for Strong Communities plays a leading role in bringing together the many diverse constituencies who, we like to say, "Care about housing, but just don't realize it." The Partnership has succeeded in getting residents across the state to think about housing - for themselves, their children, and as an avenue to economic growth and an improved quality of life.
Connecticut has many talented and hardworking professionals in state and municipal government, the non-profit sector and business community who work on housing issues. But responsibility for the many facets of housing policy has been diffuse. The Melville Charitable Trust, by providing the Partnership with the Lyceum Resource and Conference Center, has created a home for housing policy in Connecticut.
The Partnership has used the Lyceum's conference facilities and meeting rooms to convene its partner organizations, federal, state and municipal policymakers and related interest groups for successful, goal-oriented discussions that have led to important policy advances. The Partnership and the Lyceum have become central to the development of strong public policy.
Public policy development at the federal, state and local levels has often been held back by silo-like, unitary solutions that fail to coordinate with related disciplines. The Partnership has been a leader in reaching beyond the specific interests of housing advocates, developers and human service providers typically involved in housing policy. By developing relationships, planning events and shaping policy with environmentalists, transportation advocates, healthcare professionals, educators and other experts, the Partnership has created bridges that are leading to smart-growth, education, health and other strategies that include affordable and supportive housing as a central feature.
The Partnership employs policy analysts to oversee work by research consultants, compile data, write reports on Connecticut's housing situation and to work with competitively chosen interns. Our outreach materials are based on solid data aggregated from state and federal government sources, think-tanks and policy organizations, and business groups. We issue reports and publications, including the HOMEConnecticut Annual Affordability in Connecticut report, the HousingInCT annual barometer of Connecticut housing market conditions, and a range of fact sheets and email communications that are sent to members of Congress and the General Assembly, their staffs, mayors and first selectmen, planners and a range of other government, non-profit and private-sector partners.
After "Housing: The Hub of Public Policy," a two-year series of policy forums that dramatically showed how housing policy could contribute to solutions in such other policy areas as healthcare, education, transportation and environmental quality, the Partnership embarked on the 2011 IForums and 2012 IForums series on focused topics within those policy areas. By bringing to the Lyceum leaders in economics, urban policy, food insecurity, community development, homelessness, veterans affairs, transportation-oriented development, the Partnership is able to educate new constituencies and advocate for thoughtful, broad-based solutions to many vexing policy problems.