I believe in affordable housing in Woodbridge. I believe we have a responsibility to New Haven County and the state to do our fair share to provide affordable housing opportunities to people who need it. New Haven, a place where many of us work and entertain ourselves, is facing a crisis with an extreme shortage of housing that people can afford. Across the state of Connecticut, we are lacking more than 135,0000 affordable housing units to meet our citizens’ needs. Our town is currently in violation of fair housing laws, the Zoning Enabling Act CGS Sec 8-2 and Planning Mandates Sec 8-23.
My belief in affordable housing in Woodbridge is based on the knowledge that our country is segregated because of historic and continuing racist housing policy at all levels of government and business to keep people of color out of white middle- and upper-class neighborhoods. I am grateful for the educational opportunities that Beecher Road School and the Amity School District have given my children, and I want all children—ALL children—to have such opportunities. The lack of economic and racial diversity in our school systems dramatically detracts from our ability to prepare our children well for the world.
It is disheartening, then, to have the Arbor Haven proposal, which includes open space for town use, market rate houses that would help our tax base, and affordable housing units that would help us meet our mandated requirement to offer affordable housing in Woodbridge be seen as so controversial. Our town is already fully 25% protected open space. What is more, those arguing for protected open space may also consider themselves environmentalists. It is better for the environment for people to live in multi-family housing units such as those affordable units proposed in the Arbor Haven proposal. With this perspective, our quest for even more open space in the town seems narrow minded.
The Town Plan and Zoning Commission recognized the need for Woodbridge to provide more affordable housing and in 2021 made changes to the zoning code, including loosening restrictions on accessory dwelling units, two-family, and multi-family dwelling units. But because of the current lack of public water and sewer, we will still have a hard time reaching the additional 400 to 1000 units needed to meet our fair share of affordable housing in the next ten years. The country club property, with its sewer and water amenities, offers a great opportunity to add a modest number of affordable housing units to our town.
While 37% of our town’s acreage is open space, in contrast, 1.2% of our housing is affordable. I like walking the trails all over Woodbridge just as much as any resident. What makes me even more joyful though, is knowing such a great town could be made available to more people from diverse backgrounds, by opening our hearts and minds.