In October, a family at Green Homes, an affordable housing community in Bridgeport, went without water several days through a weekend after a burst pipe flooded their unit and others.
When Mayor Joe Ganim got the news from his staff, he wanted to "find out the correct story" then work on a plan to improve the lives of city housing residents.
"There's no reason a mother and two children should go without water the whole weekend. Mayor Ganim truly cares about folks and he's looking at these areas to improve quality-of-life conditions," said Rowena White in the mayor's office.
To improve the lives of Bridgeport youth, Ganim has created two task forces to start identifying areas for improvement in schools and housing.
Each task force will be required to gather information including public input—then work together to report on challenges and weaknesses—before making recommendations, according to Ganim. The goal is "improved governance and/or operations that will create a positive impact on our community of young people in schools and residents in public housing," Ganim said in an announcement.
The Education Task Force, comprised of the schools' superintendent, parents, teachers and administrative staff, aims to build better working partnerships with the Board of Education, City Council and Ganim Administration—identifying cost-efficient purchasing policies and procedures as well as identifying financial gaps that need attention for the betterment of our students, education and schools.
"Mayor Ganim is looking forward to building relationships with educators, the superintendent, City Council and parents to have a level of accountability in spending with measurable positive outcomes," city officials said in a statement.
“I am looking forward to working with the mayor and representatives from the Bridgeport school community to secure the resources that our students deserve. Our kids are entitled to the same opportunities that other children have in our neighboring communities,” said Bridgeport Schools Superintendent Michael Testani.
The Housing Authority Task Force will address challenges met by the Bridgeport Housing Authority and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HUD to find solutions and better practices to benefit residents of Park City Communities.
Various issues have surfaced and were brought to the attention of city officials and the mayor for unsafe living conditions, health hazards and quality-of-life issues.
“We need this partnership to be sure issues are handled appropriately and expeditiously for the residents,” said Ganim.
“The Bridgeport Housing Authority is in the process of hiring a permanent executive director. The Authority is working to reposition a portion of its functionally obsolete housing stock in order to revitalize neighborhoods," said Park City Communities Commissioner Cowlis Andrews, according to the city's release.
“I look forward to these committees building strong partnerships that will bring all parties to the table working collaboratively to provide solutions for our children to have the opportunities that they deserve,” said City Council President Aidee Nieves.
“Each stakeholder of the Task Force needs to be accountable because every Bridgeport resident, young and old, deserves an equitable education and living standards.”
“We made positive progress in the first four years, but I recognize that we need to do more, specifically for our young people,” said Ganim.
“The launch of these task force committees is just the beginning of moving things forward and letting Bridgeporters know that we hear them. I’m looking forward to hearing the ideas and solutions from these committees to make the improvements that will help our city, students and residents thrive. In the coming weeks, we will be making a few more announcements regarding reorganization," continued Ganim.