The Southeastern Connecticut Housing Alliance (“SECHA”) has its genesis in a Blue Ribbon Panel for Housing that rose out of the 2002 study commissioned by the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (“SCCOG”) and others that showed a region in crisis with respect to affordable housing. The study was conducted to evaluate housing needs in Southeastern Connecticut. “Housing a Region in Transition: An Analysis of Housing Needs in Southeastern Connecticut, 2000-2005” demonstrated a Regional need for approximately 4,300 to 5,100 new housing units from the years 2000 to 2005. (A copy of this report can be found on the SECHA and SCCOG websites.) A 2004 update of the Study predicted a need for as many as 8,000 new housing units by the year 2010 in spite of a 60% increase in housing permits since 2000. Although there has been an influx of additional housing units within the region within the past 10 years, the prices of many of these housing units are generally not affordable to those who work within this region.
As the successor to the Blue Ribbon Housing Initiatives Panel, SECHA was incorporated in 2006 and established itself in 2007, as a Connecticut, non-stock non-profit corporation in order to provide a regional approach to help deal with the shortage of affordable housing. Our role as an advocacy organization is to facilitate the development and promotion of affordable housing: to educate those to better understand housing costs and issues; to work as a liaison between local government, realtors, the workforce, non-profits, healthcare systems, and others; to provide housing information to those who need affordable housing; to educate those who are not familiar with affordable housing mechanisms; and to bring together diverse housing constituencies to address imbalances as a result from the housing shortage. SECHA relies upon the business, government, and non-profit sectors as supportive partners in its mission and direction.
SECHA works closely with the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (“SCCOG”) as a liaison between the participating council of governments, and the general public (including developers, lenders, healthcare organizations, school systems, non-profit entities, housing organizations, etc.)
SCCOG (the “Council”) is a public agency with representatives from twenty towns, cities and boroughs formed to provide a basis for intergovernmental cooperation in dealing with a wide range of issues including housing issues which impact Southeastern Connecticut. The Council was organized in October of 1992, taking over the mission of the Southeastern Connecticut Regional Planning Agency (“SCRPA”), which had been in existence since January 1961. The following map identifies the region and participating municipalities of SCCOG are highlighted, illustrating the municipalities which SECHA serves.
Crucial to SECHA’s ability to sustain itself and employ a full-time Director has been the financial support of private and public financial sectors. In addition to past grant funding provided by the Dime Bank, Liberty Bank, Pfizer, Mohegan Sun, and CHFA, SECHA has received State funding in the past as a result of a recommendation by the Governor’s Commission on Economic Diversification of Southeastern CT. In fiscal year 2009/10, SECHA was awarded a HUD Neighborhood Initiative grant, funded by Congress in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2010 which supports salaries through 2012. Reflecting broad support in the region among municipal leaders, the Southeastern Council of Governments voted in April 2007 to provide administrative oversight for the full-time position and to cover the costs of benefits only for the Director’s position. A Memorandum of Agreement between SCCOG and SECHA was executed on April 25, 2007 to formalize this relationship. As an initial sponsor of the 2002 Housing Study, SCCOG has long been a leader on housing issues, but there is now a direct and financial relationship between SECHA and the SCCOG, which reflects the importance with which the region’s municipal leaders regard the issue of affordable housing. So, although SECHA has temporary financial support for salaries and employee benefits, it will require local municipal financial support and grant funding to initiate housing related programs and sustain the SECHA organization as a vital advocacy group in our region.
Gathering data on affordable housing, analyzing housing needs and options, promoting housing options via innovative programs, and maintaining an inventory of housing stock within the region will be a huge undertaking and an on-going process. This process includes incorporating Smart Growth principals, which will also spur economic development and strong communities. Analyzing housing needs for existing residents, providing contact information for those looking to reside in the region, and collaborating with local organizations to promote affordable housing is also a long term goal and on-going process which the current Director of SECHA has started and is very excited about, however, she requires the support of the Southeastern CT Council of Governments, Foundations, and Philanthropic organizations who might also benefit from her collaborative efforts and professional expertise.