[Excerpt from news article by Johana Vazquez, February 8, 2022]
"... residents gathered in the public library's meeting room Monday night to respectfully share their thoughts on the town's diversity, affordable housing shortage and racial disparities. Laurie Wolfley, trained facilitator and member of Residents for Inclusion and Social Equity, led the dialogue, asking questions based on two reports: Waterford's 2021 Equity Profile compiled by DataHaven in August, and the state Department of Education's "report card" on the town's school district.
Drawing from the Equity Profile statistics, Wolfley said 26% of Waterford residents are cost-burdened, meaning they spend at least 30% of their total income on housing, and 10% are severely cost-burdened. Residents considered how the town could assist those on the brink of homelessness or if there are enough housing options in town.
Most of the residents acknowledged there is a need for affordable housing in town. One resident said there are not enough long-term rental options, multifamily homes and ways to help teachers and first responders so they could become homeowners.
Giving their final thoughts on the overall dialogue and how might members of the community come together to address racial disparities, some residents said having more conversations like this would help. One resident said she doesn't know if most people in town want to gather to change things, as they would rather not deal with it.
Waterford's RISE is a group of about 18 community members — spanning in age from about 17 to 87 — all people who live in town and are "committed to very transparently addressing the topic of social justice and equity in town," said Wolfley, a professor at the University of Connecticut's Avery Point campus. She said this was RISE's third community dialogue, an effort to connect with members of the community as the group continues to form a mission statement and goals.