Saud Anwar

State Senator

Saud Anwar

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working For You

May 20, 2021

Senator Anwar-Sponsored Bill Establishing the ‘Right to Housing’ Passes Senate

Today, State Senator Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor) celebrated the Senate’s passage of the “Right to Housing,” legislation he co-sponsored that implements a state goal to develop policies respecting, protecting and fulfilling a right to affordable, safe and stable housing for every resident. This transformative bill, which passed the Housing Committee in March by a 9-3 vote, fights for the right to housing, identifies vulnerable populations and requires them to be considered in affordable housing-related actions; establishes a committee to review housing policies; and requires the creation of a housing advocate to assist recipients of Department of Housing services with complaints or grievances related to the right to housing.

“The issue of housing and homelessness is close to my heart and I have championed this issue for years because every individual in Connecticut deserves a stable, safe home,” said Sen. Anwar. “We know the pressures and societal issues that lead to homelessness; we also know, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, that homelessness and housing insecurity is not an individual issue but a societal one and can impact anyone. As such, the people of Connecticut deserve the safety and peace of mind of knowing they and their loved ones will remain protected.”

Senate Bill 194, “An Act Establishing A Right To Housing,” is wide-ranging, making the following changes to housing statutes:

The bill seeks to implement policies pushing to establish the “right to housing” in Connecticut, which includes:

  • State agencies and political subdivisions considering the right to housing when adopting or revision policies, regulations or grant criteria impacting the right
  • Such policies should be implemented with priority to assisting households with low and moderate income, households that could be at risk of housing insecurity
  • Serving households currently experience homelessness or at risk of housing loss or in lower ranges of income groups being considered

Components of the “right to housing” include:

  • The right to protection from housing loss, meaning governmental programs can ensure the legal security of people and households at risk of losing housing or experiencing homelessness, including eviction prevention programs, legal assistance in evictions and financial assistance and support services
  • The right to safe housing meeting all basic needs including internal habitability and necessary services and infrastructure to support healthy and dignified living standards
  • The right to housing and affordability, through government programs providing rent assistance, encouraging existing housing’s maintenance, repair and rehabilitation and increasing low-cost housing stock to ensure the ability to secure and maintain housing without risking access to other essential needs
  • Right to rehousing assistance for people and households that have become homeless
  • The right to recognition of special circumstances, where government programs ensure the accessibility of households facing obstacles to finding housing ranging from race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, age, disability, unemployment, criminal record, eviction history, family status, income source, immigration status, cultural traditions or being a victim of fraud or financial manipulation among others

The bill further establishes a “right to housing” committee, a 17-member group to review existing and proposed housing policies and advise on the state’s implementation of a right to housing, including review of legislation impacting housing with focus on homeless individuals, including homeless youth; individuals with physical disabilities; individuals with mental health, substance abuse and developmental conditions; individuals with past or current criminal justice system involvement; individuals from historically marginalized racial and ethnic groups; individuals from historically marginalized groups based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression; survivors of sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and sexual trafficking; refugees and immigrants; and veterans.

It also requires the development of a Department of Housing employee deemed a housing advocate who must provide timely assistance to recipients of DOH services with complaints or grievances regarding the right to housing.

This legislation passed the Housing Committee in March by a 12-3 vote. It now proceeds to the House.