A Better World is Possible

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Connecticut tenants face a housing emergency. Already high rents have skyrocketed since 2020. Buildings in both the cities and suburbs are deteriorating under the management of negligent landlords speculating on our homes, posing health risks to adults and children. Evictions and homelessness are on the rise. Our rental vacancy rate is the lowest in the country—landlords can hold tenants hostage. Young people cannot afford to live independently, families are forced into overcrowded arrangements, workers cannot afford to live near where they work, and some are forced to flee the state altogether over the cost of housing.

Democrats held a super-majority this session and had the opportunity to boldly address this emergency, despite obstruction by the Republican minority. Tenants and our allies demanded a rent cap and good cause eviction protections to give us immediate relief and stability while we tackled the housing emergency head-on. Hundreds of us stayed up all night at the Capitol to testify about the urgency of taking on a housing system that’s unaffordable, unsafe, and unfair; rooted in legacies of racism and exclusion; and that is displacing many of us from our homes and communities. We were out on the streets of our cities and towns, in our community spaces, and in our apartment buildings talking to our neighbors. Polling showed the vast majority of voters agreed we should stabilize rent and take action to address exclusionary zoning. This was the chance to cap the rent, empower tenants, and begin to shift the immense resources and wealth of our state towards guaranteeing affordable and stable housing for all.    

SB 998 improves tenants’ rights, but it does not shift the paradigm of housing in our state—housing that’s unaffordable and unsafe for many of the 1.3 million renters in Connecticut. It does not address the systemically racist practices of suburbs that continue to lock-out disproportionately Black and Latine renters, and it does not increase the availability of affordable housing. We support SB 998’s limitations on eviction blacklisting by landlords, caps on application and late fees, higher fines for landlords, translation of notices and forms, and additional resources for security deposits. But these changes only skirt the edge of what tenants need and are demanding. They do not reshape our housing system to create prosperity for us all in Connecticut, and they do not prioritize the working class. Rent will keep going up. Landlords will still wield no-cause evictions to deter organizing or force out tenants for no reason at all. Power over housing will remain concentrated in the hands of the few.

The tenant-led housing justice movement is here to stay, and next year our movement will be even stronger. We will organize in our buildings and cities to protect each other as we continue to fight for housing stability for all, so that all of us can put down roots in the communities we love.

June 8, 2023, Co-Authored by CT DSA and CT Tenants Union