Last week the Partnership for Strong Communities (PSC) in collaboration with Open Doors Connecticut hosted a congressional site visit at the Open Doors’ Smilow Life Center. Attendees included Rep. Jim Himes (CT-04), Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno, Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling, State Representative Lucy Dathan, and other affordable housing advocates(see full list of attendees below).
With occupancy starting in 2017, Smilow Life Center includes 14 supportive housing units, 2 medical respite units, a health center, and a business center for job training. The building was formerly a glue-trap factory, and rehabilitated using CHAMP, Historic Tax Credits, CDBG and other philanthropic resources.
“It was great to visit the Smilow Life Center in Norwalk and hear from local officials and leaders on their priorities for federal investments in housing infrastructure. The input they provide is critical as the House and Senate work to provide more funding for affordable housing for American families. said Rep. Jim Himes (CT-04). We must supply organizations like the Partnership for Strong Communities with the resources necessary to continue meeting Connecticut’s crucial housing needs and creating more resilient communities.”
“Community conversations, such as this one, are a critical part of keeping the diverse housing needs a part of the fabric of our community planning. As the State continues to invest in deeply affordable units, support from the federal government is crucial to tackling the housing crisis” said Seila Mosquera-Bruno, Commissioner of Housing. “Thanks to the Partnership for hosting, and to Congressman Himes, as well as the rest of the federal delegation for their continued advocacy.”
The roundtable discussion centered around the crucial need for federal resources in Connecticut’s housing sector which ranks 10th worst in the country for housing affordability. Each roundtable attendee gave their perspective on the prospects on the passage of BBB and how the ‘more than $150 billion in funding to expand access to affordable, accessible housing; help 294,000 households afford their rent; build, upgrade, and retrofit over 1.8 million affordable housing units;’ could change the affordable housing landscape in Connecticut and across the country.
“With the unfortunate stalled status of Build Back Better --this site visit was a crucial opportunity for state, community, and non-profit partners to come together to urge our federal representative to preserve the vital affordable housing components in BBB.” said Kiley Gosselin, Executive Director of the Partnership for Strong Communities. “The Open Doors’ Smilow Center serves as a perfect example of what can come to fruition when diverse resources are put to work to develop affordable and sustainable housing. Rep. Himes sees the value in this and we thank him for his commitment and advocacy to increase federal investment into affordable housing in Connecticut and across the country. Our partners will continue to work with members of our federal delegation to ensure that they voice the needs of Connecticut’s residents and focus resources to tackle the disparity in housing affordability for low-income households in Connecticut and beyond.”
Joel Rodriguez, a tenant at the Smilow Life Center, also had the opportunity to give his perspective on how life changing the Smilow Life Center was for him and how Open Doors gave him the opportunity at a second chance to maintain an affordable and sustainable home.
"We were so happy to provide space to PSC for this important conversation at Open Doors' Smilow Life Center--a revitalized historic building which was made possible through public and private support. said Michele Conderino, Executive Director of Open Doors Connecticut. We're looking forward to continuing to work together to find ways to expand housing opportunities in Connecticut."
The Partnership wants to thank all who attended the site visit and look forward to future events with our federal, state, and community housing leaders.
Special thanks to:
- Joel Rodriguez, Smilow Life Center
- Representative Himes, U.S. House of Representatives
- Commissioner Mosquera-Bruno, CT Dept. of Housing
- Representative Lucy Dathan, Connecticut House of Representatives
- Mayor Harry Rilling, City of Norwalk
- Evonne Klein, Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness
- Christie Stewart, Fairfield County Center for Housing Opportunity
- Denise Williams, Inspirica & Opening Doors Fairfield Cty. Advocacy Comm.
- Adam D. Bovilsky, Norwalk Housing Executive Director