Grandpa Joe Couldn’t Have Afforded The Burbs Today

The quest for affordable housing has divided cities like New Haven from suburbs like Branford. But it doesn’t have to, Sean Scanlon says.

He tells a story about his grandfather to explain why.

Scanlon, a a 31-year-old Democrat whose day job is handling communications for U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, is currently running unopposed for a third term representing Guilford and Branford’s Pine Orchard and Stony Creek neighborhoods in the state House of Representatives.

He split with his fellow Branford state representative, Lonnie Reed, in 2017 on a bill that weakened a law that pushed for developers to build affordable housing in the suburbs. Reed voted for it, Scanlon against.

Which, in his case, wasn’t the popular thing to do in Branford, where public meetings have featured repeated fights against development projects that include affordable housing.

Asked on an episode of WNHH FM’s “Dateline New Haven” about why he took that stand, Scanlon told the story about his grandfather, Joe Lavalle.

“My grandfather was a firefighter here in New Haven. They lived on Greenwich Avenue with my grandmother,” Scanlon said.

“He secretly saved up a whole bunch of money secretly for a long time. One night he came home one Sunday and annoucned to his whole family that he had had saved up enough money and they were going to move to Guilford.

“Rather than be excited about that , they laughed at him. They said, ‘Joe, there’s cows. There’s dirt roads there. Why the heck would you want to move to Guilford?’

“I think my grandfather understood something that they didn’t at the time, that he could give my aunt and my mom a better chance of living that American Dream type life at that time in a place like Guilford than maybe he could in a place like New Haven.”

Today, Scanlon continued, a firefighter wouldn’t necessarily have the same chance to buy a home in Guilford.

“That dream is not a for a lot of peole anymore either in New Haven or in Guilford. A lot reason for that affordable housing is not an option for a lot of people. My grandfather today, if he was living in New Haven as a firefighters, probably couldn’t afford a hosue in Guilford like he could in 1955. So I think that we need to go to great lengths to make sure that there is affordable housing in our communities.”

In general, Scanlon said, “My success in my district and New Haven’s success in its district are inextricably tied together.”

In the WNHH interview, Scanlon also discussed his ongoing efforts to pass laws that address the state’s opioid crisis. He spoke as well about his working relationship with Branford’s Republican first selectman, Jamie Cosgrove. “I work well with Jamie,” Scanlon said. He said “part of the problem” in politics now is that not enough people “talk to each other” or work together across the aisle.

Click on the Facebook Live video to hear the full interview with State Rep. Sean Scanlon on WNHH FM’s “Dateline New Haven.”

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posted by: 1644 on August 2, 2018  12:54pm

Actually, many New Haven firefighters and cops live in the suburbs.  A former tenant of mine, a New Haven police officer,  bought a newer house on several acres in North Guilford about two years ago. Lots of the older homes in Branford and Guilford are very affordable.  Incidentally, Reed’s district contains lots of affordable housing, especially on Branford Hills and Brushy Plains, though the housing is privately owned, fully taxed and not deed-restricted.  The sections of Branford Scanlon represents, Pine Orchard and Stony Creek, have essentially no affordable housing and are mostly very high income, especially Pine Orchard (home of Frank Carrano, retired NHPS teacher & union leader).  (Although, nice home can be had for far less than New Haven spent on the new Mill River Crossing).  Guilford and Stony Creek lack sewers which would allow dense, affordable development like that in Reed’s district.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on August 2, 2018  4:04pm

Grandpa Joe Couldn’t Have Afforded The Burbs Today

What is he talking about.You can even afford a apartment in the cites.


In fact you can not even afford a home In New Haven.

Cities Where the Middle Class Can No Longer Afford a Home

15. New Haven-Milford, CT
> Cost-burdened middle-class households: 34.2%
> Median single-family home value: $201,182
> Median household income: $66,176
> Homeownership rate: 61.2%

New Haven is one of several metro areas in Connecticut in which home prices remained essentially flat throughout 2017. Additionally, the median home price in the city was about 30.3% lower as of the end of 2017 from its peak in the 2000s. The city also has some of the largest housing inventories in the country. The drop in home prices and the large share of homes on the market are due in part to population decline. The metro area’s population fell by 0.5% from 2011 to 2016, even as the U.S. population grew by 3.7%.

Despite the relatively favorable conditions for buyers, housing costs remain a considerable burden for 34.2% of middle-income households. By comparison, 22.0% of middle-income households nationwide are housing-cost burdened. Low-income residents are even more likely to be affected. Some 61.8% of households earning between $30,000 and $44,999 a year are considered housing-cost burdened.

posted by: NHPLEB on August 4, 2018  6:07am

So where does that leave?  You can’t live in the suburbs,  the cities,  a house,  an apartment…..?