Planning and Development Committee
March 14, 2022
Presented By: Kathleen Callahan, MSW

Dear Honorable Chairpersons Cassano and McCarthy Vahey, Ranking Members Hwang and Zullo, Vice Chairs Needleman and Goupil, and all other distinguished Members of the Planning and Development Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly:

My name is Kathleen Callahan, a resident of Stratford, and the chair of the National Association of Social Workers Connecticut Chapter’s Education and Legislative Action Network (NASW/CT ELAN). I am testifying on behalf of the chapter which represents almost 2,400 members. We call upon the Planning and Development Committee to vote favorably on HB-5429.

NASW/CT seeks legislative action that promotes culturally responsive practices in all aspects of community life, including affordable housing and equitable access to basic needs. Our 2022 legislative agenda specifically supports zoning reforms which include diverse housing options and equitable transit-oriented communities – building affordable and accessible homes near public transit – has our full support.

Social workers are fundamentally rooted in the belief that an individual must be seen within the context and complexity of their human experience and their shared environment. The connection between where a person lives and their health and wellbeing includes the quality of housing and access to transportation.

We know that housing is a crucial social determinant of health with more affordable housing resulting in improved community health and better economic outcomes. Transportation is also a social determinant of health which impacts almost every other social determinant by either providing or impeding consistent and reliable access to various food options, health care and pharmacies, employment and education, and social connections.

In 2019, Kaiser Permanente[1] surveyed people across the country about their social needs, categorized by housing, transportation, food security, and relationships. A key takeaway was the holistic view of health – it isn’t the doctor visit only. While 92% of respondents believe access to doctors is important to overall health, both stable housing and reliable transportation, at 89% and 80% respectively, also ranked very important. Of additional significance is that these survey responses transcend demographics and are the same regardless of age, income, race, or gender.

All of our neighbors, with diverse income and housing needs and who depend upon public transit, will benefit from equitable transit-oriented development as will all of our communities. NASW/CT supports a mix of housing types and income levels and asks the committee to vote favorably on HB-5429.

With respect and gratitude for your service and consideration,

Kathleen Callahan
Stratford, CT

[1] Kaiser Permanente. (2019, June). Social Needs in America Survey Key Findings. Retrieved from https://about.kaiserpermanente.org/content/dam/internet/kp/comms/import/uploads/2019/06/KP-Social-Needs-Survey-Key-Findings.pdf.

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