In its ongoing efforts to confront structural and historic racism and how it manifests in housing issues, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving announced a second round of funding to nonprofits advocating for policy change. in state and municipal affordable housing laws.

The first round of funding, announced in February, awarded $25,000 each to eight organizations. This month’s round awards grants to nine organizations that focus on reshaping affordable housing policies.

The grant initiative is the first time the Foundation has funded lobbying by nonprofit organizations and community members.

Most of the organizations, working to change the policy, got $25,000. The only exception is the Rocky Hill Congregational Church, which received $10,000 to organize a lecture series to build support for affordable housing.

Erika Frank, senior community impact officer at the Foundation, said the Rocky Hill grant was inspired by Foundation-funded initiatives in Simsbury and Hebron to teach suburbanites the importance of affordable housing.

“It’s really about residents learning about the history of housing policy and how it has affected how their city looks today and how their current city policies continue to maintain that status quo,” said Frank. “This type of resident education, while not legislative, can lead residents to become more engaged in their city’s affordable housing policy.”

Frank said the first round of funding taught the Foundation some lessons. One of the lessons was the need to make grants before the start of the legislative session to allow time to prepare and offer repeat grants to certain organizations.

“Systemic change in legislation is often a long-term undertaking. Expecting you to achieve all of your goals in one year of funding is just unrealistic,” she said.

This allowed five organizations that had received a grant the last time to obtain grants again to continue their lobbying. The recipients are the Regional Planning Association/Desegregate CT, the Center for Leadership and Justice, Once INCarcerated Anonymous, the Connecticut Fair Housing Center and the Open Communities Alliance.

Open Communities Alliance used its funding to form Growing Together Connecticut, a consortium of more than 45 nonprofits, government commissions and businesses that advocate for affordable housing.

“The levels of segregation in Connecticut and the lack of affordable housing are having ripple effects across the state, affecting all kinds of issues, education, homelessness, children in schools, women who have disproportionately need housing to be more affordable,” said Erin Boggs of Open Communities Alliance. “There is such a magnitude of impact that it makes sense for organizations facing all of these challenges to come together and raise their voices.”

This long-term paradigm may alter how the Foundation will proceed on this initiative in the future. “We’re trying to figure out if one-year competitive funding is the right mechanism for each recipient,” Frank said.

Another lesson from the first round, Frank said, is to expand the diversity of voices in the community. The four new grant recipients reflect this: The Arc of Connecticut, Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, Rocky Hill Congregational Church and Sustainable CT.

“We included Arc because the disability community really suffers from the lack of housing that meets the specific needs of people with certain disabilities and the lack of affordable housing,” she said.

And while previous grantees focused on more affordable housing, the new round — reflected in the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness grant — has added the needs of those without housing at all.

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“We did not directly denounce homelessness in our last call for tenders. We had to call him specifically,” she said.

Sustainable CT is using the money to maintain a database it created that compiles affordable housing plans submitted this summer by each municipality. The state has required that these plans be submitted by June 1.

“We hired students from all over the state. They read each plan and categorized the strategies in the plans according to nine general themes, zoning, financing, etc. said Lynn Stoddard of Sustainable CT. “No one else had done this follow-up yet.”

The database was created to help cities and municipalities coordinate their efforts. Stoddard said students are deeply committed to affordable housing.

“We are creating a pool of passionate, intelligent students who are drawn into cities and government councils. They are committed to the future of Connecticut communities,” she said. “They want to live in Connecticut after they graduate so they can see the importance of that.”

The first round of funding has already had notable success. The Hartford Land Bank, with the help of its grant, spearheaded the creation of a $20 million fund for Urban Law Financing Programs to revitalize affordable development in cities.

Susan Dunne can be contacted at [email protected].