John Lee: Renters Need City Council Advocates

Remarks by city government observer John Marshall Lee who addressed the City Council Monday night:

I am looking for FAIR in Bridgeport tonight and I come to you as a last resort. Do we need to call on the State or Federal government for assistance? Where is the FAIR in the Housing Commission in Bridgeport? Where is the FAIR in the Rent Board in Bridgeport? Largest City in the State by population, which is the fact by number of residents, but without a FAIR Housing or FAIR Rent group to listen to residents who have questions, problems, issues, or concerns. And more renters than in most cities or towns. With constituents from throughout the City going to New Haven or other towns and being asked by those communities WHY?

As one duty among his authorized powers, the Bridgeport Mayor is tasked with appointing resident voters to limited terms with an expiry date on Boards and Commissions and persons so appointed and approved by the Council serve until replaced. What you know but have done nothing publicly about for too many years, is that without nominees to the bodies, all terms expire, and groups do too. No nominee replacements. All expired. Groups die in place. Nobody buries them!!

Failures of Finch, Fabrizi and now Ganim for recent six years to provide timely nominations leaves many vacancies, as well as persons serving expired terms … maybe, but does CC provide oversight or feedback? As I look back on much of the past 15 years, I note that political appointees have been assigned to work on the task of finding board replacements. First, a former City Council member, Angel DePara and subsequently Constance Vickers, members in good standing with the DTC have addressed the appointment subject.

But the work is never completed. No public discussion occurs. The CC appears deaf to my 2022 observations as I get no feedback that I can quote. I am working with Council members downtown on HUD housing issues of discrimination and intimidation that is illegal and being reported to HUD in Boston. People who are harassed because of the color of their skin have nowhere to turn WITHIN THE CITY because of the City failure to support Civil Rights and Fair Housing laws.

How fast can you get FAIR back into Bridgeport Boards and Commissions? Or must we live another 15 years without citizen representation and hypocritically claim on our City website that all is FAIR and in order? Time will tell.


One comment

  1. Important topic – The Avoidable Death Without Notice of Passing of TWO City Boards/Commissions, dealing with Fair Rent and Fair Housing. Back in the days when folks were fighting for fairness, equal treatment, rule of law and civil rights among other things and a succession of mayors neglected to deal with issues that were of little concern to them personally, perhaps, or otherwise, put friends in a spotlight that could easily dim and then vanish. History folks.
    Back in November Frank Recchia noticed the Stratfield Apartments on corner of Main and Chapel and did a broadcast….shined some light about the poor elevator service…and it turns out more. Likely the harassment and intimidation of residents who are due care and respect and not avoidable errors to long term residents who have courage, a willingness to speak up when others turn fearful, and gives to her neighbors daily from her “wealth'” as she is able to because she does like to cook for others, so perhaps she will prepare a plate for you just for the ‘thanks’.
    Stopped by her neat unit today with some daffodils to celebrate the season. She showed me an eviction notice received in the past week. It was sent in error but the building residents know that it was delivered to her door. Will management know that the staff who sent the letter knew about a change in payment procedure that has been in order since last year when her husband passed and her circumstances changed? Will they apologize for sending a public eviction notice? Will they be humble enough to admit that staff can make avoidable errors as well as other folks? Is this what happens when a voice of courage speaks up and looks for a tenants group that meets regularly to reflect the sense of community that exists there? Time will tell. ( Thank you for sharing something from my pen, again, Len!)


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