Partnership Expands to Advance Racial Equity and Housing Stability in Fairfield County
Apr 27, 2022
With new investment, Fairfield County Center for Housing Opportunity addresses Connecticut’s housing crisis through data-driven approach
April 26, 2022 – Fairfield County, CT – Fairfield County’s Community Foundation (FCCF) today announced that the Fairfield County Center for Housing Opportunity (FCCHO) will extend its work to address one of the county’s most pressing challenges: the need for equitable access to safe, affordable, and healthy housing.
Through a new $400,000 investment from JPMorgan Chase, FCCHO will now be able to build on its work to create and preserve housing for people of all incomes, ages, and backgrounds in southwestern Connecticut.
FCCHO was started in 2019 as a strategic partnership between FCCF, the Housing Collective, Regional Plan Association, and the Partnership for Strong Communities. The initiative develops effective, long-term regional solutions to ensure all Fairfield County residents have access to safe, affordable, and sustainable housing opportunities.
The effort received a critical investment in 2020 when JPMorgan Chase invested $450,000 to help conceptualize the FCCHO and support the collaboratives strategic goals. Since that time, FCCHO has been aligning regional resources to deliver tools for communities, municipalities, and policymakers to better understand and address housing challenges together. Some of the FCCHO’s notable accomplishments include:
• A first-of-its-kind online inventory of affordable housing, research, and policy recommendations for adopting data-driven strategies to ensure the production, preservation and protection of housing that meets the needs of all residents.
• A regional housing needs assessment.
• A guidebook to help towns to create affordable housing plans.
• Resident-led discussion forums on housing topics of interest to community members.
Built upon a collective impact framework, FCCHO intentionally centers equity and community in its work. As part of JPMC’s initial investment, FCCHO worked with national housing policy think tank Urban Institute to design a results framework to track the long-term progress towards affordable housing. As part of this latest grant, the results framework will be operationalized, and Fairfield County will be able to measure its progress toward meeting the housing needs of every resident in the region.
“FCCHO shows what’s possible when philanthropy, nonprofits, and businesses come together to address important community issues,” said Juanita James, President and CEO of Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. “JPMorgan Chase’s investment ensures that this important work will continue, and that this emerging partnership will drive meaningful change in the housing system in order to support equitable access to housing opportunity for individuals and families throughout Fairfield County.”
Fairfield County has the largest income and achievement gap of the 100 largest U.S. metro areas nationwide. When the COVID pandemic first began, seven percent of adults in Connecticut did not have enough money for housing or shelter and more than 30 percent of households were severely housing cost-burdened, meaning they spent more than 50 percent of their income on housing. Renters are generally at a higher risk for housing instability with research indicating 28 percent of renter-occupied households in Connecticut are severely burdened by housing costs. Since 2020, these figures have significantly increased with more people facing a lack of safe, affordable housing or shelter.
“A critical component of economic empowerment is homeownership — a goal that is out of reach for far too many hardworking families and individuals across Connecticut.,” said Matt McSpedon, JPMorgan Chase Connecticut Market Leader. “The Fairfield County’s Community Foundation is at the forefront of innovative solutions to our region’s most pressing issue and this investment will help more people access housing that is affordable, and, in turn, help build their credit, savings, assets and financial opportunity.”
From 2006-2017, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation collaborated with a broad coalition of community-minded philanthropic organizations and donors to increase the supply of affordable housing by building the capacity of nonprofit housing developers. As a regional community funder, FCCF united 29 funders and helped build the will of municipal leaders across the county and provide general operating support to local developers, resulting in the production of 1,100 affordable housing units, an increase in production among grantee developers of more than 300 percent. Collective investments of nearly $5 million were estimated to have impacted 5,000 low and moderate-income Fairfield County residents, created 1,400 jobs and generated $472 million in economic activity.
Learn more at FCCFoundation.org.