community more equitable
what we could become
if we increased housing choices, density, and investment: a model of equality, opportunity, and livability
live400: community more equitable
Quality affordable housing is springing up in neighborhoods that have needed new investment; factories and mill buildings, once abandoned, are becoming housing and offices; but many communities still suffer from lack of equity and opportunity. We must aim to become more equitable by the time of our 400th anniversary. We have significant strengths in our towns, neighborhoods, and institutions. We must harness them to promote and protect human dignity. We must emphasize connecting our town centers and assets rather than hardening the divisions of our town lines. We should aim to ensure equitable and affordable access to safe, high-quality housing, schools, food, parks, and services, in every town and neighborhood.
Areas of Focus: Health/Housing, Safety/Schools, Equity/Opportunity
Recommendations & Actions
Equity & Opportunity
In 2022, at the same time as the state gasoline retail tax was suspended to combat inflationary costs, the State Assembly also voted to suspend fare collections on buses through December 1.
The State Assembly in 2021 voted to eliminate the “Poverty Tax” which would apply a lien to assets acquired by folks who used state social services.
Nonprofits, social service organizations, governments, schools, and other places of opportunity provide programs that have tremendous potential to improve lives. As programs get refined, “red tape” such as applicant forms, reporting, verifications and other measures make accessing these programs time consuming. Often for folks who could benefit from these programs, time is their scarcest asset – and learning about and applying for these programs takes longer than they can afford. Organizations should be diligent in streamlining access to their offerings to the greatest degree, in order to have the impact they desire to have on the community.
Develop planning and promotional materials, working with local universities and non-profits, to highlight the investment and development opportunities within the Zones which promise the greatest social and economic benefit to the local communities and region as a whole.
Health & Housing
The Valley has an overabundance of freestanding suburban or exurban houses, with attendant dependency on the private automobile. We must expand the range of options, especially rental apartments and for-sale condominiums located in dense, vibrant urban areas and town centers. This will help with reduced car trips and encourage more transit use, biking, walking, and rideshare. Diversity of housing choices makes a healthier housing market and reduces the extent of high rent burden.
Focus on advancing specific projects for Hartford Line and Fastrak station areas, and completing associated public realm improvements. To do this, we must adopt key planning and public policy measures that are now missing, and create a regional fund for TOD.
The City of Hartford is a regional leader in this policy goal by eliminating parking minimums in its zoning code.
Creating focused town and city centers with high-density housing helps contain urban sprawl and leaves low-density areas open and green. We should avoid traffic-generating uses in areas without transit and far from town and city centers.
Continue preparing sites for development, through brownfields remediation and infrastructure projects. The region should also continue developing strategies to market remediated sites for future development.
The CT Children’s Medical Center is leading the North Hartford Ascend Pipeline initiative, which supports the growth and potential of students living in the Promise Zone “from cradle to career”. The program is now in development.
Engage powerhouse hospitals and health institutions and companies, including health insurance providers, to promote better public health; some through policy and economic steps, and others through improved air quality and environmental quality, including access to green open spaces, recreational areas, and water.
Residents of North Hartford have been working to locate a grocery store in the Downtown North or Arrowhead Gateway areas.
Many parts of Hartford – and growing areas of low-income residents across the region – lack accessible access to healthy foods. Concerted efforts should be made to attract and retrain full-service grocery stores to those areas. There are programs that now serve to fill those needs where possible, but they need better supports to truly meet the needs that remain without those full-service stores.
Safety & Schools
Hartford has launched the HEARTeam, to add mental health, crisis intervention, and drug treatment specialists to responses, aiming to better respond to needs and balance public safety resources appropriately.
Though we have seen substantial improvement in public safety, some neighborhoods remain highly vulnerable to crime. Departments that are stretched thin should be given greater support to ensure all residents can live safe, comfortable lives wherever they call home. Advance as a national leader in reducing gun violence, an especially appropriate role given the Valley’s history of gun manufacturing.
The covid-19 pandemic and subsequent economic shocks have affected countless people in the Hartford region. Many supports that existed early in the pandemic have begun to fold, while folks continue to struggle. This is an opportunity to be more targeted and effective in the deployment of social services in the region, which will ultimately contribute to their longevity as programs, and the successful rehabilitation and thriving of residents.
Tools like the Opportunity Atlas give us a chance to better understand where challenges remain in providing children a chance to build a successful life.
Sheff v. O’Neill challenged the Hartford region to look at our school districts differently. Thirty years later, school district performance varies widely town by town, creating disparities in income, health outcomes, and incarceration rates. As home to some of the best performing school districts in the country – as well as innovative magnet schools – the Valley should work harder to achieve high standards in all districts, developing more effective strategies and not simply relying on decades-old policy decisions.
Equity & Opportunity: Greater Hartford Community Wellbeing Index (DataHaven 2019), Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CRCOG 2019)
Safety & Schools: Transit Oriented Development (CRCOG), Metro Hartford TOD – Connecting People, Places, and Jobs (HFPG 2019), Hartford TOD Pilot (ConnDOT/City of Hartford 2018), Hartford Downtown Housing Study (2014), Bushnell South Master Plan (The Bushnell 2019), Downtown North Plan (2017), Hartford Avenue Density Student (City of Hartford/MASS 2018)