Tents Don’t Pop Up on the Green, For Now

by Thomas Breen, May 15, 2024, New Haven Independent

Anthony wasn’t sure where he and his fiancee would spend the night Wednesday. But he did know where they wouldn’t be: in a downtown encampment proposed and ultimately postponed by a group of unhoused activists.

“I’m not staying on the Green,” he said. ​“I’m not getting arrested.”

Pushing a stroller filled with blankets and spare clothing, all quickly soaked through in Wednesday afternoon’s rain, Anthony was one of around 50 people to gather on the Green by Church Street across from City Hall at around 4 p.m. The Unhoused Activists Community Team (U‑ACT) had initially planned on pitching tents and spending the night on the Green, in view of the mayor’s second-floor office at City Hall, to protest past clearings of homeless encampments. …

Brian C. asked the mayor point blank what would happen if the encampment proceeded on the Green as planned.​“Somebody told me if we set up a tent tonight, they’re going to arrest us. Is that true?”
“You’re not allowed to set up tents,” the mayor replied.

“That’s crazy,” Brian said. But will people get arrested?

“If you sleep in a tent and don’t let us remove it, you may get arrested,” Elicker said. Sleeping outside won’t get you arrested, but setting up an unauthorized structure might. … Brian said … he was at The 180 Center warming center on East Street on Tuesday, but that center is now closed for the season. ​“I’m trying to get into an encampment,” he said, ideally the one on Rosette Street behind the Amistad Catholic Worker House, but there might not be enough room.

Mark Colville, who co-runs the Amistad Catholic Worker House, gathered attendees into a circle at around 4:30 to try to figure out as a group what to do next….

Ultimately, at Colville’s suggestion, those gathered agreed to continue organizing in the month ahead, including by going to U‑ACT’s weekly meetings on Friday afternoons at the downtown public library. In a month’s time, Colville said, an even larger group will come back to the Green for a subsequent action uplifting the basic human rights of those with nowhere to sleep but outside.

[Entire article is available here: newhavenindependent.org/article/unhoused_activists]

Fair Housing bill advances through House

by Ginny Monk, Housing & Children’s Issues, CT Mirror, April 19, 2024

On Wednesday, a bill allowing the state attorney general to bring civil action against people who violate fair housing law advanced through the House of Representatives. House Bill 5419 would allow the attorney general to file lawsuits against people who violate fair housing rules and let them take the case to court in the jurisdiction where the actions occurred rather than forcing all cases to go to Hartford, lawmakers said.

H.B. 5419 would also aim to take some of the caseload off of the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. The federal government also accepts fair housing complaints, although there is a backlog of cases that haven’t been through the system.

The bill, which came through the Judiciary Committee, had support from both sides of aisle. It heads to the Senate.

Zoners OK Rosette Mini-Shelters

by Nora Grace-Flood, NH Independent, March 13, 2024

(Read the full article here: www.newhavenindependent.org/article/unhoused_get_relief_from_zoning)

Six backyard emergency shelters built without city approval won zoning relief. …The Rosette Village Collective, a crew of individuals experiencing homelessness and the volunteers helping to house them, made their case during the latest online meeting of the Board of Zoning Appeals to legitimize
the six one-room shelters erected last fall … at 203 Rosette St., which first opened up to individuals in need of a place to pitch their tents after the city bulldozed a homeless encampment on Ella Grasso Boulevard last spring and left unhoused individuals unable or uninterested in finding regulated shelter spaces without a place to go. …

While Amistad House is working to pass state legislation that would create zoning pathways for emergency housing, they are, in the meantime, asking to live as an exception to stringent building code rules to let ten otherwise unhoused New Haveners remain in their so-called “tiny homes.” In order to do that, Amistad House requested retroactive zoning relief from the board. …

The application was approved with four conditions: First, only two individuals can reside in each structure at any time. Second, any potential resident is expected to be a direct family member of the first. In addition, no more than the six structures currently on site are allowed to serve as residences. All shelter occupants must maintain access to shared facilities inside Amistad House, including the first floor bathroom and kitchen. And lastly, an easement must be in place for structures that extend beyond the property lines of Rosette Street if Amistad House is sold down the line. …

The application was approved following extensive support from Hill community leaders, next-door neighbors of Amistad House, and testimony from those living in the shelters themselves. …

While the situation might be understood as neighbors doing a favor for Amistad House and those living behind it, those living in the Hill who spoke Tuesday pressed the reality that Amistad is doing a favor for the neighborhood at large. Teachers Union President and Hill resident Leslie Blatteau agreed: “They’re doing the work that community needs to do. They are showing us how it’s done.” …

Mark Colville, co-owner of Amistad House alongside his wife, Luz Catarineau, said: “I would ask the zoning committee to step aside and let this thing go. You need do nothing else but leave it in our hands.”

New Haven’s Tiny Home Community Gets Heat and Electricity 

by Abigail Brone, Connecticut Public Radio
January 18, 2024.

A community of tiny homes created to house homeless residents in New Haven now have electricity and heat after months of back-and-forth with the city.

Rosette Neighborhood Village, a community of six “tiny homes” in the backyard of a private residence owned by Mark and Luz Colville, was constructed in October.

For the last four months, Rosette residents and their advocates worked with the city of New Haven to bring the units up to code and get electricity connected. The electricity and heat were recently turned on.

Electricity was approved by city building and fire department officials Saturday, and connected Monday. The development followed an in-person meeting with New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker and his team on Jan. 12.

Jacob Miller, son-in-law of the Colvilles, said they’re optimistic about the community’s upcoming Jan. 30, Board of Zoning Appeals meeting.

“Doesn’t seem like the type of thing that we’re gonna get a lot of pushback on when again, ultimately, what we’re providing is a privately-funded social service that’s filling a vacuum in a city that doesn’t have nearly the amount of resources to serve this community, ” Miller said….

The tiny homes are under a 180-day temporary permit, allowing them to remain standing. However, the structures are required to be disassembled when the permit expires.

Elicker declined to specify what repercussions Rosette Village residents and owners may face if the buildings aren’t removed by the deadline….

Read the full article at: https://www.ctpublic.org/news/2024-01-18/new-havens-tiny-home-community-gets-heat-and-electricityfbclid=IwAR0oda0Mpta1fhbdGJMO4tiW9_7CA0XzyGOQIySFM9ckXyBA_ayyIUWOe_M.

Suburban Fundraisers Sing For Hill’s Tiny Homes

by Lisa Reisman, New Haven Independent, Nov. 20, 2023

(Updated with Mayor Elicker’s response) Sixty tiny-home supporters at a church in North Branford lifted their voices in song. It was about electricity and housing affordability, and aimed at New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker. The occasion was ​“Home for the Holidays,” a brunch fundraiser held on Saturday, Nov. 11, at Zion Episcopal Church in North Branford to raise support for ongoing expenses toward sustaining New Haven’s Rosette Neighborhood Village, with its six tiny homes that house people who had been living in tents.

The event raised $10,000, according to organizer Colleen Shaddox, member of the Rosette Village Collective, and author of ​“Broke in America: Seeing, Understanding, and Ending US Poverty.” …
Electricity is ​“the last piece of the puzzle” for the six shelters on Rosette Street, said Jacob Miller, a real estate professional and the son-in-law of Mark Colville, co-leader of the Amistad Catholic Worker House. The houses ​“basically meet all the baseline provisions for most building and zoning codes,” he said. … Beyond that, ​“we have the funds and a licensed electrician who’s ready to do that work with-in 24 hours. We just need the city to issue a permit to allow UI to turn the electricity on.”

“The stumbling block,” he said, is ​“a 100-year-old zoning code that doesn’t contemplate tiny houses.” That means Rosette Village is constrained ​“to follow the same drawn-out process as someone who’s redeveloping a 100-unit apartment building, leasing it out, and then selling it for $20 million,” he said, referring to the apparently stalled redevelopment of an apartment complex on Congress and Davenport Avenues.

Update: In a follow-up interview with the Independent Monday afternoon, Elicker said that city staff had a ​“productive meeting” with representatives from the Rosette Village group last week in his administration’s ongoing efforts to try to get these shelters into compliance with local zoning and state building codes. He also criticized the ​“hypocrisy” of residents of an affluent suburb criticizing New Haven for not doing enough to support affordable housing, when a third of New Haven’s housing stock is affordable while only 2.2 percent of North Branford’s is. …

Mark Colville called out the mayor for impeding the process. “His argument, that it isn’t fair to the other homeowners in the immediate area, doesn’t make sense,” he said.​“All our neighbors have not only been informed, but consenting of this from the beginning and many have become active participants.” Regarding the electricity issue, ​“City Hall is telling us that these encampments are unsafe and unsanitary,” he said.​“It’s essentially the same argument they’re using for not turning the electricity in our backyard in the tiny homes. Because they don’t have electricity, they’re not safe, so we won’t turn on the electricity.” …

“I think all the time of the expression ​‘love your neighbor as yourself,’” said Lucy LaRocca, Zion Episcopal’s assistant rector. ​“It doesn’t say neighbor just as the person next door or down the street.We need to love our neighbors wherever they are.” …

Thomas Breen contributed to this report.

[Read the article in its entirety: newhavenindependent.org/article/north_branford_church_calls_on_mayor_elicker_to_power_tiny_homes_in_song]

Volunteers Lay Foundations for Six Tiny Homes to Serve Unhoused New Haveners

Maggie Grether & Natasha Khazzam, Yale Daily News, Oct. 10, 2023

Leaders of the Rosette Neighborhood Village Collective are building the tiny homes to provide additional privacy and stability for residents.

Volunteers broke ground last Saturday at the Rosette Neighborhood Village Collective, clearing wheelbarrows of damp earth to lay the foundations for six tiny homes that will be operational by Thanksgiving.

The tiny homes will provide shelter for between eight and 12 unhoused people currently living in tents at 203 Rosette St., located in activists Mark Colville and Luz Catarineau’s backyard….

To clear space for constructions, the Collective moved tents previously erected in Colville and Catarineau’s backyard, which have been there since 2022, to a community garden directly next to the house. Volunteers from various organizations including Amistad Catholic and Benicasa Community gathered Sunday to construct the foundations….

Colville said he has been in communication with the City Planning Department and is currently working with the city to secure permits for the tiny homes. Colville said the city has expressed support for the tiny homes, which he sees as “the first real substantive cooperation that the city has expressed towards this movement.”…

Colville started helping set up makeshift tent cities in 2014. In 2020, during the outbreak of the pandemic, Colville helped form the West River encampment.

[The article can be read in its entirety at yaledailynews.com/blog/2023/10/10/volunteers-lay-foundations-for-six-tiny-homes-to-serve-unhoused-new-haveners]

Ocean Rescinds Eviction Notices after Union Pushback

Nora Grace-Flood, NH Independent Sept. 8, 2023

A megalandlord has walked back on threats to evict 16 tenants and agreed to negotiate on lease security, rent stability and living conditions — after members of the city’s first legally recognized tenants union used public and legal pressure to hang on to their homes.

Ocean Management, one of New Haven’s largest property management-landlord-real estate investment outfits, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Blake St. Tenants Union that rescinds those 16 notices to quit in exchange for the withdrawal of a lawsuit and fair rent complaint filed against the business by union members.

That all comes after the union fired back against the landlord’s attempt to kick out a quarter of residents at the Elizabeth Apartments complex at 311 Blake St. in late August, claiming that the lapse-of-time eviction notices — which stated that tenants had to move out because their leases had expired and the landlord did not want to renew — were actually an act of retaliation against tenants for organizing to push back against a potential rent hike.

Since Ocean first began distributing those notices to quit in residents’ doorways on Aug. 19, the tenants union delivered a petition opposing the eviction filings to their landlord, held a press conference, filed for injunctive relief, filed a lawsuit, and organized a protest with over 300 tenants rights activists and local labor organizers. On Sept. 1, Ocean drafted and signed a memorandum of understanding withdrawing those notices and promising not to pursue any more lapse-of-time evictions for at least three months.

Many Blake St. tenants were kept on month-to-month leases after Ocean purchased the property two years ago, meaning that every 30 days their landlord could choose to let that lease expire … [CT Tenants Union VP Luke] Melonakos-Harrison said he hopes the union’s win will also mean ​“more and more people will come to understand how unfair these types of evictions are and why we need universal no-cause eviction protections in Connecticut.”

Read more here: www.newhavenindependent.org/article/ocean_rescinds_notices_to_quit_after_tenants_persist

City Housing Plight Brought to the ‘Burbs

by Lisa Reisman, May 15, 2023, New Haven Independent

It might seem incongruous for a wealthy shoreline suburban community to pull out all the stops for a radical Catholic homelessness rights activist from the Hill.

Not at all, said Mark Colville, leader of the Amistad Catholic Worker House, as roughly 100 attendees enjoyed vegetable terrine … at a ​“Breaking Bread” fundraiser in the basement of Guilford First Congregational Church.

“Homelessness is a result of a lot of things, a lot of break-down of relationships in families, and that’s not specific to any one group or social class,” Colville said at Saturday’s event. …

Mark Coville addressing the audience. photo: Lisa Reisman

The occasion, Colville said, marked ​“the first in a series of planned public events organized by a coalition of people and organizations in the New Haven area trying to do something substantive to decriminalize homelessness in the city of New Haven and the state of Connecticut.”  …

He said Saturday’s fundraiser was part of an ongoing campaign that started in 2013 when he read a United Nations report on which U.S. cities comply with the 1948 United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 2013 report detailed municipal laws across the country, he said, ​“making it a criminal act to take refuge on public land when the state fails to provide you with public housing, and those include New Haven.”

That means, he said, ​“if you’re homeless in New Haven tonight, and you’re not able to access a shelter bed — and, as far as I know, there are literally hundreds who can’t — then anywhere you take refuge, you’re subject to either arrest or some kind of sanction.”

The report was an eye-opener. ​“We came to realize that no matter how many people that we took in, the people outside the door were still considered criminals.” …

Then, in early 2020, came the pandemic, shelters being closed by the city, and an Amistad House worker talking with people who had taken to sleeping in the side stairwells around City Hall.

“From those conversations, we convinced about six of those people to take a chance on a plan we had to offer hospitality on public lands, to set up a tent city, and to do it in a public way,” Colville said.

The larger problem is a shelter system that ​“mimics the criminal justice system,” he said. ​“When you walk into a shelter after you get patted down, you have to give up your privacy, your agency, autonomy, your property, all the things you give up when you go to jail.”

He compared the human right to shelter to health care. ​“If you don’t have health care, you’re going to go outside the system, whether it’s a faith healer, herbal medicine, or a drug not approved by the FDA,” he said.

Criminalizing homelessness is tantamount to ​“making it a crime to make herbal tea to cure yourself,” he said.

The new strategy, to set up tiny houses on the property as Rosette Neighborhood Village, ​“a model tent city in our own backyard,” has as its ultimate goal ​“to change the policy away from criminalization so that people can have legal status as neighbors and not criminals.”

Read the complete article at https://www.newhavenindependent.org/article/guilford_congregational_church_helps_amistad_house_say_yes_in_my_backyard.

Housing Tops May Day Rally Cry

by Nora Grace-Flood, New Haven Independent, May 2, 2023

Hundreds of activists took to the streets to commemorate International Workers’ Day — and to celebrate local strides taken to solidify people power not just across jobs, but within New Haven apartments, homeless encampments, and shelters.

New Haveners have formed a tradition of marking that worldwide May 1 labor day each year by embarking on a march for justice throughout downtown after gathering on the Green for hours of music, maypole dancing, and speeches spanning issues from worker protections to healthcare access to immigrant and indigenous rights to environmental action.

On Monday, that standard scene saw activists newly emboldened by a string of recent gains and losses in another foundational fight which New Haveners have largely been leading throughout the state, around affordable housing.

In addition to passing out fliers championing progressive causes and running ribbons around a post, organizers of Monday’s event added some flair to this year’s rendition by pedaling a quadricycle with an effigy of Mayor Justin Elicker strapped into the passenger’s seat over to City Hall where they blasted the administration for bulldozing a West River homeless encampment and sought to stir up more support for tenants’ rights.

Read the entire here in the New Haven Indepdendent: https://www.newhavenindependent.org/article/mayday

Fair Rent Commission Okays New Tenants’ Union Rules

Laura Glesby, New Haven Independent, Oct. 19, 2022

Local tenants’ unions now have an official path forward for being recognized by the city in order to participate in housing-related investigations, thanks to the Fair Rent Commission’s adoption of a new set of union-related rules.

The commissioners unanimously approved those rules and regulations Tuesday night during their latest regular online monthly meeting.

The now-adopted rules pertaining to tenants’ unions flesh out a renter-power law recently approved by the Board of Alders. Thanks to the alder-approved law and the Fair Rent Commission-approved regulations, tenants’ unions are now able to:

  • officially register with the city;
  • designate a representative (who may or may not be a fellow tenant of the complex);
  • launch a public investigation from the Fair Rent Commission office into housing conditions at the apartment complex in question; and
  • have a representative assist union members in filing an individual fair rent complaint.

The regulations stop short of allowing tenants’ unions to collectively appear before the Fair Rent Commission with a complaint about rent or living conditions within individual units. They also require tenants’ unions to have their registration forms notarized before submitting them to the city.

[Read the entire article at www.newhavenindependent.org/article/fair_rent_recognizes_tenant_unions]

Sanctuary Kitchen is Hiring!

CitySeed seeks a dynamic and driven leader with proven experience in program growth and strategy to lead Sanctuary Kitchen. The Program Director will have expertise in strengthening training programs and networks for job placement. Info at cityseed.com. Click on the “Who We Are” tab, click on “Employment.”

The Rochdale Co-op Is Accepting Applications for Membership (Elm Street)

The Rochdale Co-op has been providing affordable housing in downtown New Haven since 1947. We are a democratically-run and diverse community that relies on the active participation of our members. We strive to be a supportive, fun, and ecologically-responsible place to live. We appreciate your interest in becoming a member of the Rochdale Co-op. The Rochdale Co-op has an average of 12-13 members, and provides a cooperative living environment (private bedrooms, shared kitchen, bathrooms, common areas, house meetings and duties).

We are a diverse community and value our diversity. The Rochdale Co-op does not discriminate against applicants on the basis of race, color, family status, ethnicity, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, religious background or religious affiliation.

Application and more information can be found on Craig’s List New Haven  — search for Rochdale.


Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) Stands with Afghan Families

Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) is currently welcoming evacuated Afghan families and are ready on 24-hour notice to receive as many as needed.

Please help us:

Donate to defray costs of essentials upon arrival emergent costs.  Irisct.org/donate.

Join a local community group in towns around the state and work with IRIS to welcome families in your community. irisct.org/communitycosponsorship.

Collect backpacks, school supplies, winter coats and waterproof winter boots. Our storage is limited at this moment. Please email [email protected].

News from the Green Party of Connecticut

Ronna Stuller, secretary, Green Party of CT

As a unity of local chapters throughout the state, the Green Party of Connecticut is committed to the Four Pillars of all Green Parties worldwide: grassroots democracy, social justice, non-violence and ecological wisdom. In order to empower the political voice of the people – not corporate interests or their lobbyists – Green Party candidates accept contributions only from individuals, not from PACs. This year’s election we are running over a dozen candidates in municipal elections all across Connecticut.

Justin Paglino MD, Ph.D., of Guilford, was our 2020 nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives in the third Congressional District. He has continued, on the local and national front, to advocate for a nonprofit healthcare system that serves everyone, as well as reforms that would strengthen our democracy, repair our environment, and invest in a peaceful future.

We invite readers to learn more about our organization at www.ctgreenparty.org or www.facebook.com/GreenPartyofConnecticut.  We also invite readers to consider changing their voter registration to Green Party, and/or to consider visiting your local Green Party of Connecticut chapter to learn more and get involved. You will be most welcome.

Statement by Justin Paglino

I am running again for the U.S. House of Representatives, for the seat currently held by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, and I anticipate that my name will be on the ballot in November 2022. I intend to once again seek the nomination of the Green Party of Connecticut.

The factors that spurred my initial decision to run for this office are unchanged. Our national healthcare system still makes healthcare unaffordable for vast swaths of Americans. Unlike Rep. DeLauro, I support single-payer Medicare for All, the reform that would save $500 billion dollars and 70,000 lives each year. Recently New Haven passed a resolution declaring its support for Medicare for All, yet our representative in Congress is still not a cosponsor.

Our national energy policy is still completely inadequate to address the severe threat of climate change. Unlike Rep. DeLauro, I support the carbon tax and dividend policy we need to finally put a real limiting force on our untamed carbon emissions, while making the transition to sustainable energy affordable for all. Our nation still grotesquely over-spends on the military budget, and the City of New Haven recently passed a resolution declaring this to be the case. Unlike Rep. DeLauro, who voted against a 10% cut to the Pentagon budget, I support a 50% budget cut, with just transition programs in place to keep defense industry employees employed. We are in more need of windmill blades at this time than helicopter blades, but the skill sets to make these do overlap significantly.

Our nation’s runaway economic inequality continues to hurt. Although I give credit to Rep. DeLauro for fighting for the child tax credit, I would go further and call for a Federal Jobs guarantee and Universal Basic Income, as more progressive members of Congress have already done and Rep. DeLauro has not.

Our nation’s politics are deeply corrupted by corporate interests. Unlike Rep. DeLauro I accept no special interest money, only funding from individuals. Our two-party system discourages voters from voting their values, but I encourage voters to do exactly that, because if you don’t vote for something, you’ll never get it. Unlike Rep. DeLauro, I support Ranked Choice Voting, a reform that eliminates the spoiler effect and thus will allow multiparty democracy to flourish.

Please visit my website at justin4all.org to sign up for my newsletter, or to contribute to this campaign for healthcare, climate, peace, economic justice, and uncorrupted multi-party democracy.

Thank you.

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