Democrat Ned Lamont was sworn into office on Wednesday making him the 89th governor of the state.
In his State of the State address following the ceremony, Lamont offered several topics he plans to focus on during his first term in office including: raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour; fixing the state’s budget crisis; introducing paid family leave and an investment in urban centers, among other issues.
His speech contained a tone of optimism, especially when he mentioned that he hoped to bring efficiency and cooperation to state and local government.
We appreciate Lamont’s enthusiasm, but when he also mentioned he wanted to push for WiFi access in every rural town and a 30-minute commute between Hartford and New Haven, we wonder if he’s is aware of the issues important to residents in cities like Bristol and New Britain.
When The Herald/Press asked some locals what they wanted to see the new governor address, the answer kept coming back to affordable housing.
According to Zillow.com, the average cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment in New Britain is $700-$1,000.
In Bristol the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $800-$1,000.
One person working a full time job at the minimum wage of $10.10 an hour would have to spend about 60 percent of their paycheck to rent an apartment in either city, with little left to spend on taxes, food, utilities and transportation.
Unfortunately, homelessness and the threat of homelessness is still a problem that hasn’t been eradicated in central Connecticut. And not everyone who is homeless finds themselves in this situation for the same reasons.
For those trying to earn a living, eventually raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would still leave workers struggling paycheck to paycheck.
What is urgently needed is increased access to clean, reasonably-priced rental units in our smaller cities. City and state officials as well as property owners and developers must work together to develop a plan to incorporate affordable housing into new and existing buildings.
Like the governor, we want to see investment in our urban centers too. Affordable housing would be a great place to start.