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Goal of CHEO is to Expand Equitable Access to Housing

NEW LONDON, CT – A new Center for Housing Equity & Opportunity (CHEO) in Eastern CT will officially launch on March 16, 2023, to facilitate a coordinated, regional response to address housing affordability in Eastern Connecticut including throughout New London, Windham, and part of Tolland Counties.

Modeled after similar efforts in other parts of the state, the new Center will work collaboratively with housing practitioners, residents, municipalities, and policymakers throughout the region to develop a regional housing affordability strategy, and to align, grow, and deliver critical resources including dedicated staff, regional data capacity, and technical assistance to support the preservation, production, and protection of housing affordability regionwide.

The CHEO will be a strategic partnership between seven nonprofits brought together by the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut. Other founding partners in the Center include Connecticut College, Eastern Connecticut State University, The Housing Collective, Partnership for Strong Communities, Regional Plan Association, and United Way of Southeastern Connecticut.

“Simply put, we are stronger together,” says the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut’s President and CEO Maryam Elahi, “and together, we intend to lean into the significant housing challenges facing thousands of households in our region and to work in collaboration with those communities most impacted by these challenges to identify solutions and recalibrate our housing system so that it works for everyone in our region.”

The Foundation’s mission is to collaborate with partners to put philanthropy into action to address the needs, rights and interests of the community in Eastern Connecticut.

“Connecticut College is proud to be part of this exciting initiative,” said President Katherine Bergeron, who graduated from Lyme-Old Lyme High School in 1976. She added, “Our Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy’s faculty, students and staff will play an important role in this collaborative partnership to make safe and affordable housing more available.”

Connecticut College was the first regional partner to commit funding to this initiative.

Each of the Center’s partner organizations has made a commitment to ensuring equitable access to housing opportunities for every household in Eastern Connecticut. Leveraging the collective strengths and areas of expertise across all seven partners, the work of the new Center will include:

  • Convening the region in thought partnership around its housing challenges and solutions
  • Providing capacity for regional research, data collection and analysis that can inform and improve housing practices and policies going forward
  • Connecting a diverse coalition of partner organizations who can promote the production and preservation of affordable housing to reduce the number of cost burdened households throughout the region
  • Participate in advocacy at the local, regional, and statewide levels to increase public and private resources for housing
  • Build power among and elevate the voices of those most impacted by the region’s housing challenges in developing housing solutions
  • Support municipalities and Councils of Government (COGs) in the implementation of newly-adopted town housing plans

Eastern Connecticut native, Beth Sabilia, will take the helm as CHEO’s Director. A long-time attorney in the region and a former Mayor of New London, Sabilia says “I am excited by this opportunity to work with our neighbors throughout the region to address the pressing need that workers and families face when seeking affordable and accessible housing. I am looking forward to working with stakeholders throughout Eastern Connecticut to make a real impact and improve the lives of all of our neighbors.”

Funding to launch CHEO comes from an array of philanthropic partners including Berkshire Bank Foundation, Centreville Bank Charitable Foundation, Chelsea Groton Foundation, Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, Connecticut College, The Connecticut Project, Dime Bank Foundation, The Housing Collective, Liberty Bank Foundation, Melville Charitable Trust, Ossen Fund for Windham, United Way of Southeastern Connecticut, and the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund.

Editor’s Notes: i) The Center for Housing Equity and Opportunity in Eastern CT (CHEO) is a strategic partnership between the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, Connecticut College, Eastern Connecticut State University, The Housing Collective, Partnership for Strong Communities, Regional Plan Association, and United Way of Southeastern Connecticut. The mission of CHEO is to align a diverse coalition of practitioners, policymakers, residents, and community organizations to collectively identify and build upon community-driven and data-informed solutions that preserve, protect, and produce safe and affordable housing for all. CHEO envisions a future where every resident of Eastern CT, regardless of income, race, or ethnicity, has access to a safe and affordable home as the foundation from which to pursue their goals, achieve their dreams, and sustain a stable, fulfilling, and healthy life.

ii) This article is based on a press release issued by the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut.