Tackling the Local Housing Crisis

Dec 02, 2023

Pictured above at the Hartford Healthcare Amphitheater in Bridgeport (left to right): Dione Dwyer, Systems Change Support & Executive Committee Co-Chair, PT Partners; Aicha Woods, Director, Fairfield County’s Center for Housing Opportunity; Alexandra Ganim, Program Associate, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation; Mendi Blue Paca, President & CEO, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation; Melissa Kaplan-Macey, Chief Initiative Officer, Centers for Housing Opportunity at The Housing Collective (formerly VP of State Programs & Connecticut Director, Regional Plan Association); Dr. Vanessa Liles, Co-Project Director, PT Partners; Julian Pierce, Director of Economic Opportunity, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation.

In 2023, the Community Foundation and partners received national recognition for innovative solutions.

A key goal for the community foundation is that everyone building a life in Fairfield County has access to safe, stable, affordable housing. But in a county with the nation’s second-highest rate of income inequality, there is a long way to go to achieve this vision. Many people in Fairfield County face a constant struggle to attain — and keep — a roof over their heads. We are proud to be part of a group of committed partners that are facing this challenge head-on. In 2023, our collective efforts received prominent recognition as the Community Foundation became one of 10 organizations nationwide to receive the 2023 Secretary’s Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships, an annual award issued by the Council on Foundations and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The Community Foundation was recognized for its essential role in creating the Fairfield County Center for Housing Opportunity (FCCHO), a strategic partnership founded in 2018 to address Fairfield County’s housing shortage through a coordinated, regional response.

“We are extremely proud of being nationally recognized for our work, but the ultimate reward we are focused on is creating a thriving community where everyone has an affordable place to live where they can feel safe, secure, and comfortable,” said Mendi Blue Paca, President and CEO of the Community Foundation.

Data collected by FCCHO shows that more than half of Fairfield County households are cost-burdened, meaning that more than 30 percent of all household income is spent on housing. This crisis has disproportionate effects across racial and geographic lines — and, lacking a countywide infrastructure, it is challenging to scale effective housing solutions for Fairfield County’s most underresourced residents.

“While the facts about the lack of affordable housing in Fairfield County may surprise many people, the data reflects the magnitude of a crisis that has not been addressed fast enough,” said Aicha Woods, Director of FCCHO.

“We’re taking steps in the right direction, but increasing affordable housing is a complex problem that deserves the time and attention of all the municipalities in the region.”

Aicha Woods
Director, Fairfield County’s Center for Housing Opportunity

The Fairfield County Center for Housing Opportunity is a strategic collaboration between four founding partners — Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, The Housing Collective, Partnership for Strong Communities, and Regional Plan Association — and founding funder JPMorgan Chase. It engages dozens of partners in the production, preservation, and protection of affordable housing to create thriving, equitable communities and a healthy regional economy.

Learn more: FCCFoundation.org/Housing