photo Fionnuala Darby-Hudgens, screenshot from CT-N

Trinity senior Fionnuala Darby-Hudgens (Educational Studies major and IDP ’13) was invited by her community-learning partner, the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, to provide testimony on her thesis research at a March 18th public hearing of the Planning and Development Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly. Fionnuala’s testimony explained why she supports House Bill 6574: Creating a Task Force to Consider Impediments to Fair Housing Choice. In cooperation with the Center, she analyzed municipal zoning regulations across the state’s 169 towns and coded them by type of restrictions, such as minimum lot size requirements for single-family homes, which drive up housing costs and effectively block low-to-middle income families from residing and attending public schools in several suburban communities.

Based on a publicly accessible database that Fionnuala and her colleagues constructed (available on the Cities Suburbs & Schools site), she argued that “exclusionary zoning exists in this state, and is a direct barrier to fair housing.” Her testimony builds on a quantitative analysis of zoning policy, housing affordability, and school performance for her senior thesis in the Educational Studies Program at Trinity. Fionnuala “totally rocked the room” with her testimony, according to CT Fair Housing Center executive director Erin Kemple, and did a fantastic job of fielding questions from the legislators. One state senator recommended that she get herself appointed to the proposed Task Force. Trinity College has supported Fionnuala’s investigation with Levy Research Grant for Urban Studies and a Community Learning Research Fellowship.

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