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WWL: Bridgeport Housing
Where We Live - with John Dankosky
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In this episode:

A look at public housing in Bridgeport


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16:30 minutes (7.93 MB)
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The city of Bridgeport has spent several years – and millions of dollars trying to remake itself. The Steel Pointe revitalization project – an attempt to bring retail and housing to a prime waterfront location has finally gotten the go-ahead…and several other major redevelopments of downtown buildings are underway.

But the city’s still facing big needs for low-income housing to serve it’s population…in large part because of the teardown of dysfunctional public housing projects of the past. The drug-riddled “Father Panik” project was torn down in the 1990s…and the Pequonnick Apartments near the Harbor Park ballyard was razed for a failed mixed use development associated with former basketball star Magic Johnson.

That’s meant a long waiting list for some 3000 families needing public housing.

So, it’s a big job for the man in charge of housing in Bridgeport - Nicholas Calace, Executive Director of the Bridgeport Housing Authority.  He’s an urban planner who’s looking to use stimulus money, state money and other grants to build innovative public housing. We caught up with him the other day as part of an ongoing housing series.

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I found this interview to be both informative and frustrating.  Firstly, for most of us, our homes, whether owned, mortgaged, or rented are the most expensive prospects that Americans are challenged with in our economic juggle to stay ahead of the money game.  Speaking for myself, I know that my mortgage has kept me cash poor for as long as I have been in my home so I can appreciate the difficulties that many are faced with in regard to housing.  With that said, I have always been baffled by the insistent push to provide public housing for those who cannot afford to live in this state.  The State of Connecticut is among the top 5 most expensive states in the United States.  It is very expensive to live here - period.  Many of our so called "working poor" would be much better served by their "working poor" incomes in states where the cost of living is much lower.  To that end, Bridgeport, on more than one report, has been listed as one of the countries worst cities, so for those poor residents of Bridgeport who moved to another state with a lower cost of living would be better off twice fold.

  Many low income housing developments are an overall drag on the communities and neighborhoods where they are placed and this has certainly been true in Connecticut.  In most cases, in Connecticut, where public housing projects were knocked down, the neighborhoods where the projects once stood have near overnight improvement.  This is not really that hard to understand.  If you have broken down people who are all living in the same area, you will end up with a broken down environment. 

Finally, since my point of view will never be accepted in this regard, the other workable solution is to spend huge somes of money on the poor so that where and how they live does not isolate them or push away others.  If we are going to provide housing for those who cannot afford to live here, do it all the way.  Build the poor beautiful houses that even those in wealthy neighborhoods would be envious of.  Suspend the taxes on those properties, provide the dwellers of this home a car, with gas and insurance paid.  Provide money for food and lots of it too.  Provide house maintenance and keep the property kept up in bristol fashion.  This would work very well too.