Zoners OK Rosette Mini-Shelters

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

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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….

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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.

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