Center for Housing Equity and Opportunity in Eastern Connecticut launches with inaugural gathering at Conn
In response to a growing need for affordable housing in the New London region, Connecticut College is partnering with the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut and several other colleges and nonprofit organizations to launch the Center for Housing Equity and Opportunities in Eastern CT (CHEO).
The center will officially begin its work early in 2023 to facilitate a coordinated, regional response to improve housing affordability in Eastern Connecticut. Based on similar efforts in other parts of the state, CHEO will work with housing practitioners, municipalities and policymakers to develop a regional strategy to increase, preserve and protect a full spectrum of housing that fosters equity and opportunity for all.
“One of CHEO’s core goals is to harness the collective power of stakeholders in the region—policy makers, residents, practitioners and community organizers—to implement innovative, regional solutions. As a leading academic institution in eastern Connecticut, the College has a critical role to play and we are honored to have been brought into this initiative on the ground floor,” said Amy Dooling, Conn’s dean of strategic and global initiatives and director of the Walter Commons for Global Study and Engagement.
“Even at this nascent stage, it’s clear there will be myriad opportunities for students, faculty and staff who understand housing as a basic human right to get involved and contribute their knowledge and expertise to advance CHEO’s mission.”
Established as a strategic partnership between Connecticut College, the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, the Housing Collective, Partnership for Strong Communities, Regional Plan Association, United Way of Southeastern CT, and Eastern Connecticut State University, CHEO will align regional resources and deliver equitable housing solutions throughout the region.
Dooling and Ronald Flores, professor of sociology and director of Conn’s Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy, are representing the College on the CHEO steering committee. Flores is also part of the search committee for a director for the center.
Through the Holleran Center, Connecticut College regularly collaborates with local organizations to address important community issues, including housing access and homelessness. For 16 years, Conn has partnered with the New London Homeless Hospitality Center on a number of projects and programs, including the annual Walk to End Homelessness, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the center’s initiatives. Student interns and Holleran staff have also worked with the local Housing Authority, CT Fair Housing Center, and Southeastern CT Community Land Trust. Recently, as part of the Holleran Center’s Summer Civic Leaders program, Annika Brown ’23 and Jordy Batista ’24 worked with the Land Trust to conduct in-depth research on the inequities of home ownership in New London.
“Being part of a regional alliance committed to addressing equitable access to safe and affordable housing aligns well with Conn’s educational and community goals, especially the ongoing work of the Holleran Center on this very issue here in New London,” Dooling said.
In addition to Conn, funding partners for the CHEO initiative are Berkshire Bank Foundation, Centreville Bank Charitable Foundation, Chelsea Groton Foundation, The Connecticut Project, Dime Bank Foundation, William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, Liberty Bank Foundation, Melville Charitable Trust, Ossen Fund for Windham, and the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut.