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Housing  and Habitats  in Litchfield County

How two organizations are working together to further affordable housing and conservation efforts 

About the partnership between Litchfield County Center for Housing Opportunity and Housatonic Valley Association’s Litchfield Hills Greenprint Collaborative

The Litchfield County Center for Housing Opportunity (LCCHO) and the Housatonic Valley Association (HVA) are collaborating to address two critical issues in Litchfield County, Connecticut: affordable housing and environmental conservation.

LCCHO, led by Director Jocelyn Ayer, focuses on the growing need for affordable housing. As inflation rises and incomes stagnate, affordable housing has become increasingly crucial for community well-being. LCCHO coordinates regional efforts to provide resources, data, and technical assistance to municipalities and nonprofit housing organizations. Their goal is to develop housing infrastructure based on affordability, helping families avoid difficult choices between housing and other essential needs like healthcare.

Photo by Shana Sureck. In a May meeting, HVA’s Greenprint Collaborative and LCCHO gathered local affordable housing and conservation organizations, gathered together to learn how each could contribute to each other’s goals.

HVA, through its Litchfield Hills Greenprint Collaborative, is dedicated to environmental preservation. This network of conservation organizations works to protect the natural character and environmental health of the entire Housatonic River valley, from the Berkshires to Long Island Sound. Their efforts contribute to maintaining clean drinking water, regulating temperatures, managing carbon levels, and supporting local economies through natural resources and tourism.

Recognizing that healthy communities need both affordable housing and conserved land, LCCHO and HVA’s Greenprint Collaborative have joined forces to support regional planning between and amongst conservation and affordable housing initiatives in northwest Connecticut.

Our Work with LCCHO and HVA’s Litchfield Hills Greenprint Collaborative

FCH partnered with LCCHO in 2022 to develop a responsive grant program to support community led engagement efforts in northwest Litchfield County. This approach reflects our belief that effective funding sometimes means stepping back and providing financial resources so organizations can fund initiatives directly, recognizing their deep understanding of community needs and effective solutions.

In 2023, this grant program was offered through funding from FCH, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, and BTCF’s Fund for the Northwest Corner. HVA’s Greenprint Collaborative received one of two grants made that year – to support the development of partnerships between affordable housing initiatives and conservation groups.

Connie Manes, Greenprint Director at HVA, spearheaded this project, which began with a survey to gather data, raise awareness, and encourage participation, then a series of meetings to bring together affordable housing groups, conservation organizations, and key municipal representatives. These gatherings fostered information sharing and discussions on aligning goals and effectively communicating efforts to the community. One key insight from this work to date has been the significant potential for local-level partnerships between conservation groups and affordable housing initiatives.