NORWALK, Conn. — A trio of Norwalk announcements:
- Norwalk given high rating in nationwide LGBTQ analysis
- HUD awards 27 additional housing vouchers to NHA
- A public events and school rental permit signing event – on Monday
Norwalk gains 26 points on Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index
The City of Norwalk scored 97 out of possible 100 points on the 2019 Municipal Equality Index as evaluated by the Human Rights Campaign, a press release said, touting this achievement: “In 2018, Norwalk scored a 71, and in 2019, scored a 97 – an increase of 26 points.”
“The Municipal Equality Index (MEI) examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies, and services are of LGBTQ people who live and work there,” the Human Rights Campaign states on its website. “Cities are rated based on non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and the city leadership’s public position on equality.”
“Every day, we strive to make Norwalk a more inclusive and welcoming place to live and work,” Mayor Harry Rilling is quoted as saying in the City press release. “I am happy to see our score improve so dramatically over the course of one year. Norwalk is one of the leaders in the state on LGBTQ+ rights and equality, and I am proud of the work we have done. Even with a score of 97, our efforts are not finished. We will continue to put policies, procedures, and service in place to enhance quality of life for all people.”
The Human Rights Campaign evaluated nine municipalities in Connecticut, which had an average score of 74 points. The national average of the 506 cities evaluated was 60 points.
Norwalk scored 83 “standard points” and was given 14 “bonus points,” the report states, explaining that bonus points are awarded for items which apply to some but not all cities. Two examples: Norwalk got two bonus points for openly LGBTQ elected or appointed leaders and two points for providing services to LGBTQ youth.
Only two Connecticut cities scored higher than Norwalk, Stamford with 100 points and New Haven with 99.
The Human Rights Campaign selected its 506 cities thusly: the 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities in the United States, the five largest cities or municipalities in each state, the cities home to the state’s two largest public universities, 75 cities and municipalities that have high proportions of same-sex couples and 98 cities selected by HRC and Equality Federation state groups members and supporters.
“This year, Mayor Rilling helped champion efforts to improve non-discrimination polices for city employees, and signed updated Affirmative Action Anti-Harassment Policies in April,” the City press release said. “Those policies include gender identity and gender expression harassment policies to protect against the intentional mis-gendering of a person, outing a person who is transgender or non- binary, and requiring documentation from an employee before affirming their name or pronouns. Norwalk also scored additional points for having dedicated LGBTQ+ liaisons on staff from the Mayor’s Office and Norwalk Police Department who are available to help the public connect with local resources and information. Moving forward, the City is working to ensure its intake forms for the public and required paperwork for employees are more inclusive and reflect gender-neutral language. Anti-discrimination trainings for city staff, with a specific focus on LGBTQ+ rights and equality, are also on the horizon.”
‘Great way to start the holiday season’
The Norwalk Housing Authority (NHA) has been awarded 27 additional vouchers through the Mainstream Housing Choice Voucher Program, operated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a press release said. The program provides housing resources to:
- Eligible people with disabilities and their families who are transitioning out of institutional or other separated settings
- at serious risk of institutionalization
- People currently experiencing homelessness
- Those who have previously experienced homelessness and are currently a client in a permanent supportive housing or rapid rehousing project
- Those who are at risk of becoming homeless.
“NHA partnered with Opening Doors Fairfield County and other community partners to ensure participants are provided with supportive services,” the press release said. “David Rich, the Co-Chair of Opening Doors Fairfield County, an organization of over 150 regional members, tasked with preventing and ending homelessness in Fairfield County, stated, ‘We are thrilled to have these vouchers as a resource to the homeless community. This is a remarkable demonstration of how public and private agencies can partner together to effect wide sweeping change. Those living in shelters and on the streets will have hope for a place to call home over the coming holidays and in the new year.’”
“Nationally, HUD awarded over $131 million to 325 local public housing authorities, providing approximately 15,363 units of housing to non-elderly persons with disabilities,” the release said. “In addition to serving the homeless, this program helps to further the goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act by helping persons with disabilities live in the most integrated settings.”
“These new vouchers are great news for Norwalk residents and families,” Mayor Harry Rilling is quoted as saying. “Housing is a basic human right, and we must do what we can to ensure everyone regardless of income or ability has access to safe, clean, and livable homes. I am deeply thankful for the efforts of the Norwalk Housing Authority and our key partners across the city. Thank you for the support, services, and resources you provide to our neighbors who are in need.”
“What a great way to start the holiday season!” Norwalk Housing Authority Executive Director Adam Bovilsky is quoted as saying. “We look forward to working with our partner agencies to house and support 27 additional individuals and families with a disability here in Norwalk.”
“The Norwalk Housing Authority supports nearly 2,000 low and moderate income Norwalk families through 18 housing developments and rental subsidies that are used in the private market,” the release said.
‘Special Public Events and School Rental Permit Signing Event’
Lastly, there’s this press release:
“The City of Norwalk will be holding a Special Public Events and School Rental Permit Signing Event on Monday, December 2, from 4 p.m. – 5 p.m. at Norwalk City Hall in Room 231. City Departments will be present to sign-off on applications for upcoming public events. Please no road races, as those events require more detailed approvals. Permit applications can be found online at norwalkct.org/SpecialEventsPermit. The front page of the application form, with notarized signature, should be completed in advance of coming to this event. For questions or more information, please contact Norwalk City Clerk Donna King at [email protected].”