Homeless Bridgeport mother brings attention to lack of affordable housing in the state

Jennifer Martinez says she has called 211 and has gone through the process of applying for housing, but has been unsuccessful.

News 12 Staff

Mar 25, 2023, 4:53 PM

Updated 423 days ago

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A homeless Bridgeport mother hopes her story will build awareness about the lack of affordable housing in Connecticut.
"Like, I'm stressed, I'm tired," said 32-year-old Jennifer Martinez on Saturday as she wiped away tears after months of being homeless.
The single mother has spent the past few weeks staying with a friend though. At one point, she said she was living out of her car.
"Everything we own, mostly everything we own is in here," Martinez said showing her belongings in her car.
She said it has not been easy while caring for her 2- and 4-year-old daughters, the younger of whom she says has severe behavioral issues, does not sleep much and will only consume milk.
"I have never seen my daughter eat ever, so something has to be wrong," Martinez said.
She said she has tried unsuccessfully to get doctors to designate the child as having a disability -- a step she believes would help her get housing more quickly.
"She likes to bite things, scream, hit," Martinez added.
She said no matter what she does, she simply cannot get an apartment, even though she has called 211 and does have a navigator assigned to her case.
"I'd love to speak with Jennifer and try to figure out ways to get a roof over her head," said state Sen. Herron Gaston.
News 12 Connecticut spoke with Gaston, Sen. Richard Blumenthal and local officials on Saturday. Each plays a direct role in helping to make affordable housing more readily available to people like Martinez.
"Jennifer Martinez is one example of millions, literally, millions of people who need federal support," Blumenthal said. He added that he is pushing for more federal funding to build affordable housing in Bridgeport, along with tax credits as an incentive to home builders so people like Martinez can better afford to live in the city.
"We just can't build housing fast enough for the need that's out there," Gaston said.
"We see this over and over again -- people couch surfing, people living in their cars," said Doris Latorre. She, along with Charlie Griggs, are of the nonprofit Building Neighborhoods Together. Both said their organization provides the crucial free service of helping people like Martinez find rental or mortgage assistance.
"Obviously, we need more funding for affordable housing, whether it's rental or home ownership," Griggs said.
She said she got the idea to tell her story during Women's History Month in the "desperate hope" that somebody, somewhere, will give her a hand up so that she and her daughters can have "a more normal life."
"A stable safe home. That's all I'm asking for," Martinez added.
Gaston told News 12 Connecticut he will be reaching out to Martinez this week and do his best to help her get housing.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help Martinez.


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