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Connecticut's Housing Crisis: Radical rent prices squeeze people's wallets

With rents going nowhere but up, many people say they are having to make some tough cutbacks just to afford a rental roof.

HARTFORD, Conn. — For singles, small families, and young professionals, renting an apartment is the option that just makes sense; but with rents going nowhere but up, many people say they are having to make some tough cutbacks just to afford a rental roof. 

Imagine this: You just snagged a new job in one of Connecticut’s biggest cities, Hartford, Bridgeport, or New Haven, now it’s time to find a place to live, but that is proving easier said than done. 

This is exactly the situation newly graduated Ichchha Pradhan ended up in. 

“It was stressful, I kept having to push my start date,” Pradhan said. “I wanted to move here, get settled, then start my job.”

Pradhan said she had job offers in cities up and down the East Coast but chose Hartford. She tells us it was discouraging to search limited apartment listings with unreasonable prices.

“I was looking for a one-bedroom, studio wouldn’t work for me I like having my space, but I realized that wasn’t a viable option. Everything was above $1,500 dollars and I didn’t want to put away half my monthly paycheck on that,” Pradhan said.

This is an issue local leaders like New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker are tackling, pushing to have the supply of apartments meet the demand, and having them priced within an affordable range. 

“We have over the past three years brought over 900 new affordable units online, some deeply affordable, and we have almost 500 in the pipeline for the foreseeable future,” Elicker said. 

State leaders see housing as a Connecticut problem, too. Connecticut Housing Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno said they are trying to work with companies to bring more housing projects online as more people move our way.

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“The governor put in this budget has an emphasis that housing is important, affordable rents are important, we need to come together and build more housing,” Mosquera-Bruno said. 

Elicker tells us it’s a problem that has been slowly building for many years. 

“This is something cities around the nation are dealing with,” Elicker said. “Housing prices are just skyrocketing, and Connecticut is no different.”

While steps are already being taken to fix it, Elicker said in New Haven, they are also laying a foundation for the future.

“We worked hard to push the limits on that to make sure we see the development, but also ensure there was a higher percentage of units required and a lower percentage of area median income for the eligibility of those units,” Elicker said. “The reality is the classic definition of “affordable” isn’t always the same for everyone in the city and we need to make sure there are tiers of affordability.”

When we asked some state and local leaders about the idea of a “rent cap”, a concept thrown around in many larger cities, they said it’s something that is worth exploring, but tell me it’s often a deal-breaker for development companies who say they don’t want those restrictions. 

Local leaders from cities across Connecticut tell us they are working on solutions as well, stating everyone deserves to have an affordable roof over their head and it’s part of their job to ensure that can happen.

Editor's Note: This article is part of a 5-part series looking into Connecticut's housing crisis.

Read part 1,Connecticut's housing crisis: The big picture, here.

Read part 2, The state of real estate in Connecticut,  here.

Brooke Griffin is a reporter for FOX61 News. She can be reached at bgriffin@fox61.com. Follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


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