Hartford, Connecticut has a rich history in industry and culture. The city served as a safe haven for Italian immigrants who faced persecution in cities like Boston throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Some of the largest weapon manufacturers in the country called the city home and the influx of people working in the industry brought wealth and created much of the beautiful gothic architecture we see throughout the city today. Hartford continues its legacy today of being a safe haven for all as it is a designated sanctuary city with bustling Indian and Jamaican populations. However, while Hartford is rich in culture, amazing food, and beautiful buildings it lacks feasible affordable housing options throughout the city. Hartford is grappling with how to revive former factory neighborhoods through homeownership and community development projects.
Our project explored barriers to affordable housing in the city of Hartford. In addition, we sought to examine the rate of homeownership in the North End neighborhood. We worked with Matt Straub (LISC) and Jon Cabral (faculty fellow) to help us navigate Hartford’s affordable housing landscape. The end goal of this research is to provide a data set to refer to inform future development and growth of the neighborhood. Informed by our preliminary research on the North End and overall homeownership trends in Hartford our research question became:
“Does a high poverty rate in an area lead to a lack of desire for homeownership and motivate residents to occupy lower commitment housing in hopes of moving to higher-income areas?”
To start our research process, we examined local realtor data, homeownership rates and learned the history that created the data on the North End. An important component of our research process was taking a walking tour through the North End. While we were there, we analyzed the housing stock and compared the newly built, revitalized homes with some of the original triple-decker homes. Most of the homes in the area are multi-family with a few single-family homes interspersed throughout. For our project, we really wanted to examine the multi-family units and gain an understanding of who rents them, how often they change hands, and if they are owner-occupied vs. completely renter-occupied.
After researching the housing stock, we began looking into the length of stay of a typical North End resident as well as their reasons for moving into the neighborhood. Understanding what motivates people’s movements in and out of the neighborhood is essential for analyzing why the housing stock looks the way it does in this area. Tracking movement patterns will also inform us how we publish and use the data we collect.
We hope that this project and the format in which we share our results create access to usable and relevant data for North End community members and shed some light on what motivates residents to occupy their current housing types and what kind of community investment will lead to increased homeownership.