On September 5, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford awarded its annual Stowe Prize to writer and professor Matthew Desmond, whose work highlights the impact of evictions on poor people in America. Desmond is the author of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize winning book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, which follows eight families facing eviction in Milwaukee, WI. The real genius of Desmond’s contribution ) is that it highlights the ways in which the costs of evictions, although brutally imposed on the poor, are also borne by the wider community. This includes Hartford, which has one of the nation’s highest eviction rates.
The likelihood of Hartford, the lynchpin of this region, snatching victory from the jaws of near-bankruptcy is too-often viewed skeptically, even as adjacent suburban communities gain notice as up-and-coming places to be. Evidence suggests that our habitual reactions are selling the region, and the city, short. Urban communities and the suburbs that surround them can thrive together. In fact, that may be the only way for either – or both – to sustain and spread economic progress.
It is so incredibly difficult to accentuate the positive in Connecticut. Doing so is akin to swimming upstream, climbing uphill, and skiing through a revolving door – combined. In fact, when there is positive evidence staring us in the face, our Nutmeg reflexes kick in automatically. We shut our eyes, the better not to see the hopeful signs or indicators of progress.
As the legislature considers whether to override Gov. Malloy’s veto of changes to the state’s affordable housing law, it should be aware of the facts about the law and what it accomplishes.