Affordable Housing Builds As A Mayoral Campaign Issue

Larry Merly, way ahead of his time.

Larry Merly, city attorney under former Mayor Tom Bucci in the 1980s, was the barracuda of the administration. He ferociously took on protective nimbys in the cause of opportunity and equality that safeguarded suburban and rural areas to the detriment of cities left behind.

A classic Merlyism paraphrased: Large-acre discriminatory zoning in the suburbs has forced the heavy concentration of public housing, tax-exempt properties and social institutions into cities. The way to preserve the suburban lifestyle is to wall up all social problems in cities.

Suburban legislators, he’d argue, control the General Assembly and nothing will transform the dynamic of shoe-horning affordable housing almost exclusively into cities until the numbers change or the will of a governor to sanction deadbeat towns financially opens up the borders.

Connecticut Post Editorial Page Editor Hugh Bailey, who has a master’s degree in urban planning, shoots on these themes in his latest column arguing if state legislators and Governor Ned Lamont who gained margins in the suburbs in his recent reelection show no motivation for the task the federal government must step in.

Bailey declares:

Connecticut’s General Assembly may or may not do much about housing this session. It should be the top priority, but suburban preferences continue to hold sway. The governor, as usual, is no help at all.

Towns might be forced to act anyway.

This won’t happen of their own accord, as ought to be clear by now. Suburbs, especially the wealthiest and most segregated, fight even the smallest changes to the status quo on housing. They take every minor step forward as evidence they should never again be bothered to consider the question. Their inaction hurts the Connecticut economy, in addition to its less-widely-discussed moral repugnance.

Government financial pressure is the way to get there, be it federally or locally. If you don’t transform your housing policies the money flow from us stops. Donald Trump, the so-called master builder of walls, was the dragon protecting the suburban castles.

Bailey adds:

Once he took office, Joe Biden quickly rescinded Trump’s move, and recently went further. Under a new proposed federal action, communities would have to detail how they are addressing housing discrimination and act on those plans or face a loss of federal housing dollars. This is a significant step.

“We are done with communities that do not serve people,” Housing Secretary Marcia Fudge said in announcing the proposed rule. “We are going to hold responsible those that we give resources to. We no longer as a federal government can continue to fail the very people we need to help.”

The thought of suburban representatives in Congress pulsing an affordable housing heart is on the level of them pulling the trigger on sensible gun laws, damn the consequences of how many innocents are mowed down. Save our guns, save our segregation.

In this 2023 municipal election year, affordable housing, versus market rate, will be an issue among mayoral candidates.

Bridgeport does way more than most Connecticut municipalities in that area, but is it enough compared to New Haven and Hartford?

Like anything else how do you find that balance?

State Senator Marilyn Moore, one of Mayor Joe Ganim’s challengers, co-chairs the General Assembly’s Housing Committee.

This article from veteran journalist Ken Dixon highlights the tug of war associated with housing.

What could have been a brief, pro forma committee session to approve a variety of concepts for eventual public hearings turned into a running two-hour debate on the rights of tenants and property owners and the duties of a state legislature where rural and suburban lawmakers oppose what they say is governmental meddling in their autonomy, while Connecticut is overly dependent on cities for most of the working-class and low-income housing.

Housing will be a topical give-and-take issue on the campaign trail.

Moore to Ganim: You’re not doing enough affordable housing.

Ganim to Moore: Really? This is what we’ve done. What have you done to persuade your suburban pals in nine years in the legislature?

The other candidates in the race John Gomes and Lamond Daniels will have something to say as well.

Stay tuned.



  1. We have to define “Affordable Housing” and it should not be confused with diversity, equality, or racism. While diversity, quality, and racism are perhaps present in wealthy suburbs reluctant to construct affordable housing. At the core, is CARE.

    John is not picking up garbage because the Port lacks affordable housing. Though being Port politics, it’s probably stage. 🙂

    However, no one is going to deny the Port has blight issues. In part, the reason being people don’t CARE. Every week people haul out the garbage to the curb, but no one, (or many) CARE to take an extra minute, let me repeat, minutes, of their time to look around the property where they live to pick up any litter in front. It just sits there, waiting for an election cycle to get picked up. If you are lucky.

    For the most part, it’s not their property/business so why CARE, or slumlords who don’t or stopped. However, that alone would clean up 70/80% of the trash seen on Ports streets. A CARE to take a minute of time.

    So what is generally attached to the lack of Affordable Housing in wealthier suburban areas, the lack of CARE that tends to come with it, and the devaluation of those/properties? Instead of devaluing wealth/QUALITY over here because of the lack of QUALITY there, in the aim to achieve EQUALITY. A more balanced VALUE approach should be sought.

    In my opinion, it should be some form of affordable ownership for people who “CARE” but who are not as “privileged” to reside in such “Valued” locations, Ownership tends to bring “CARE”. The dynamics of it? Well, I am sure smart people who CARE about value can figure something out that works.

    Also, you would have to assume it would have a trickle-down effect on other locations where CARE is a challenge, John.

    Don’t think this is a racist point of view? It’s not. It is a valuable point of view. Though in politics everything is valued and viewed through the lens of “inequality” portrayed as racism. I can point that out all day. Might even do one or two.

    Don’t take my word for it. The Port/BBOE had proved it. We had integration without segregation. The BBOE plotted and planned to move more than 60 black and brown students from a lower-quality, valued school, Wilber Cross, to a higher-quality valued school, Thomas Hooker. A move that would have diminished the value and quality of education for the black and brown students at Thomas Hooker, who attended it. All in the name of EQAILITY. Every student deserves a proper QUALITY education. I’m saying that’s not the case.

    However, diminishing the value of Black and Brown students’ education at Thomas Hooker school to achieve EQUALITY for students who are being deprived of that quality resource is a sorted way to achieve EQUALITY in the BBOE education system.

    IMO, that’s straight out of the Liberal Socialist playbook. Do you think perhaps recruiting/producing enough quality teachers at those HBCs or anywhere would have a more valuable effort on education than busing and packing Port’s schools? JS.

    I get the frustration of parents on both sides. Because of my location, my children who I CARE for and who works hard are not getting the value of education as others at Thomas Hooker, and Parents at Thomas Hooke’s child’s QUALITY of education has to be reduced, diminished, and devalued because the BBOE is not providing a proper resource to Wilber Cross students. The key word here is BBOE

    P.S. Just because a teacher is certified in a class doesn’t mean it’s not going to be a packet class. JS

  2. We have to put this in perspective people, well, my perspective, I guess.

    The protest/outrage for the police-beaten death of Tyre was minimal, politically, on social media, in the news, BLM, to say the least.


    Tyre Nichols’s death at the hands of an American police department was probably one of the most brutal abuses/death in recent times of a black man. Way more brutal than Floyd’s death at the hands of the police. Yet the protest, the outrage, and the emotions are beyond comparable.

    BLM was nowhere to be found and doesn’t seem to matter for Tyre. So if it is not about Back lives in America. What was the driving force behind Floyd, and many other blacks who were abused/kills by American police that drew so much protest and outrage?

    In my perspective, Politics, clearly. It’s not just about police abuse of black men. That is pretty apparent too.

    So what are you left with people?

    Unless every police abuse case against a black person moves forward and generates the level of support, protest, and outrage as Trye. There is not much to say because if this is the level of support, and outrage for a black man who was dragged out of his car for a traffic violation and brutally beaten to his death by the police. I can’t see the life of me how any other police abuse against a black person would generate A higher level of outrage and concern.

    Honestly speaking we know that’s not going to happen. Politics doesn’t stand still or stay silent.

    And since/if we are being honest with ourselves people, BLM only seems to matter when a white person is involved. Clearly, Trye Nicholes showed us that. Right here in the Port, with Lauren Smith-Fields and Brenda Lee Rawls. A better, LOGICAL term would be, Black Votes Matters. BVM.

    I don’t want to dismiss the Half a loaf, BLM, or anybody’s life. However contrary to popular belief, political rhetoric. These things happen to white people too. White lives don’t matter when it comes to policing. When was the last, first time, you have seen or participated in a protest for a white man who was abused, mistreated, shot, or killed by the police?

    Let’s be honest, black people generally don’t care if a white person gets abused, shot, or killed by a white officer. The white political left doesn’t care. The gung-ho, Startspangle banner, law & Order right don’t even give a shit. A cop literally walked, walked, along a white cripple paraplegic in a wheelchair through a parking lot, who was accused of shoplifting, asking him to stop. When he didn’t the cop unload a F-ing clip in his side and back, and nobody really gave a shit.

  3. Another perspective. This is what I saying people.

    Gen Now promoted the Manchester protest on their website and not the one in Hartford, Yet they attended a rally/protest in Hartford against state colleges and universities increase in tuition. A measure was approved last year by the state that doesn’t take effect until next year.

    While I agree with them community college should be free however there’s a matrix to that and is more of a federal fight, not just a state. Considering the federal government already pays for up to 60 students’ tuition, vie federal financial aid, and enrollment is down considerably, especially on the community college level since the pandemic. (I believe by the cars in the HCC garage when I go there.) The increase would hit the federal government for those who qualify for it, As well as those who can, I would think.

    At any rate, here’s Gen Now’s breath of fresh air people. 🙂 Gen Now was quite vocal about BML, active during the death of Floyd protesting, advocating for police legislation/reform, and racial and diversity seminars, among a few things.

    Yet they skip the protest of a black man who was dragged out of his car and beaten to death by the police to attend a tuition hike while making the claim it’s for black people.

    Get this, in their press release/post on the Facebook page regarding it. They frame the statement to elevate/suggest white people are above black and brown, by saying the hike hurt Black, brown, and white working class”

    It comes off to me as black and brown are not working class. Outside of black brown, and white, there’s really nothing else, hence WORKING CLASS PEOPLE, PERIOD. It hurts working-class people. If we are all in it together, no need for racial labels, Right?

    Here’s the craziness of the “togetherness” of working-class people. They literally throw the brown people (Latinos) under the bus. When they emphasize they care more about the black people who are going to be affected,

    “ At Bridgeport Generation Now, we don’t want our students, “particularly” young Black people in our state, to have to deal with these student loan debt problems.”

    “Particularly” to a higher degree than is usual or average”

    They pulled a G2 on Latinos, without the LOCGIC. 🙂 Though perhaps the LOGIC lies somewhere being politics, nonetheless. I mean I get throwing the white people under the bus but the Latinos too. 🙂

    In the racial political race game for votes, Black and Brown are like Tequila and Lime

    So when I say BVM (black votes matter) more the BLM (black lives matter) there’s a logic behind it.

    When it comes to politics that’s what it seems to be all about. No?

    “Particularly, ” young Black and BROWN people in our state, to have to deal with these student loan debt problems.” 😂

  4. More than one post of mine in recent years has noted the presence of a FAIR RENT group in our Boards and Commissions though recent mayors have appointed no candidates to such group for 15 or more years. This results in a DEAD citizen self-governance group. Not good. Not healthy, when AFFORDABLE HOUSING is the phrase of the day in so many places.
    CT Legislature has ordered communities larger than 25,000 residents to have such a group. Bridgeport has one in name only, with no current members, no meetings, or agendas or minutes. What good does that do for residents with issues or concerns? What will Mayor Joe do, with City Council drafting ordinances in this direction? Housing may or not be a right, but humans require shelter, clean air, water, food, education, employment, and safety in their activities, so some legislation at a minimum seems warranted. Can those elected, become more active in listening to each other and figuring the resources to meet the wants and needs in competition? Come directly to the people with referenda if you become mired in controversy and detail, please. Time will tell.

  5. Are Bridgeport and Redding polar opposites?
    Let’s pry open the juicy stuff::
    I wonder if affordable housing will ever become a campaign issue in Redding, Ct.
    Is it only in Bridgeport or never in Redding?


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