Published in The Day
By Karen Florin
Did you share a bedroom with siblings, or others, while growing up?
I did, begrudgingly, when my sister came along eight years after I was born. Had she been a boy, she would have roomed with my brother.
Until he moved out and I left for college, my parents, siblings and I shared a single bathroom. Gasp!
Guess what? We survived!
This isn't one of those, "I walked through two feet of snow to get to school," or "I paid my dues and so should you," columns. It's a snippet of one of the conversations we're having as The Day's Housing Solutions team concludes its 10th week of reporting on the housing market in our region and starts writing the first batch of stories.
New or renewed discussions about living space are taking place all over the country as the demand for affordable homes and rentals exceeds supply and inflation squeezes the finances of renters, landlords and homeowners.
On June 1, the New York Times Magazine interviewed several sets of roommates for a story entitled "Their Solution to the Housing Crisis? Living With Strangers." The authors and photographer took us into the homes of young professionals, seniors and families hosting refugees while exploring the pros and cons of living together in cramped quarters.
Living with others in order to pay the bills is far from a new concept, and the Times Magazine article prompted on Twitter a flurry of snarky retweets, including one from journalist Kevin Allman, that said, @nytimes discovers ... roommates.
Have you heard from others, or thought to yourself, "I just can't live with anybody. I need my space."
Maybe it's more a case of, we want our space, and as housing instability rises, we'll have to adjust our expectations. How much space does a person need to live with comfort and dignity? Have we become accustomed to an unrealistic standard?
Here's the latest on our first ever crowd-sourced investigative journalism project.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with The Day's Housing Solutions Lab, it's a yearlong investigation into the housing crisis in which we plan to not only tell you about the problem, but also to identify and highlight potential solutions.
We could not ordinarily conduct an investigation of this depth with our current staffing levels and daily demands, so we've asked for, and gratefully received, financial assistance from philanthropic organizations and the public.
To date, we've raised a total of $69,600 for the project and are continuing to seek funding for staffing, events, translation services, travel and equipment.
The Day is a for-profit company, so in order to receive donations, we've contracted with The Local Media Foundation, a nonprofit trade association, to serve as our fiscal sponsor. The LMF provided us training on fundraising for journalism, assists with the grant application process and accepts donations on our behalf.
We were able to start the project in April with generous donations from community members during an appeal we started on Giving Tuesday. We are thankful for every dollar and word of encouragement we received, including thousands of dollars in matching grants from community members who told us they believed in our work and wanted to support us.
This spring, we were excited to receive grants from The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, The Melville Charitable Trust, The William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund and Chelsea Groton Foundation.
The fundraising is ongoing — our goal is to eventually raise enough money to add two full-time staff members to our ranks. Here's where you can donate if you're so inclined: https://givebutter.com/thedayh....
Since April, team members have held six community listening sessions and conducted dozens of interviews. Our reporters are collecting and analyzing data on the housing crisis, knocking on doors to talk to people about lead and mold contamination and interviewing families that are stuck in untenable living situations because they can't secure a rental property.
Just as we're grateful to the donors who are making this project possible, we're thankful to the people who are sharing their personal stories with us and to the officials who have given us their time and expertise.
We plan to start publishing content later this summer.
In the fall, six journalism students from the University of Connecticut will be reporting on evictions, locally and statewide, and will produce stories for the housing project. Their professor, accomplished journalist and author Mike Stanton, has already started gathering data.
We're excited to be conducting a project of this scope and thankful for your support. If you'd like to contact the housing team, email us at email@example.com.