WOODBRIDGE, Conn. (AP) — A civil rights group has purchased land in Woodbridge as part of an effort to force the New Haven suburb to provide more affordable housing.

The Open Communities Alliance announced Tuesday that it has applied to build a small multi-family development with a mix of market-rate and affordable rental units on that land.

The group says the move will challenge a zoning policy that reserves the vast majority of land in Woodbridge for single-family homes on large lots and bans the development of multi-family housing across the entire town.

“For generations, Woodbridge’s exclusionary zoning policies have strategically made it nearly impossible for middle and low-income families to live within its borders and benefit from its resources,” said Erin Boggs, Executive Director of the Open Communities Alliance. “These policies are reminiscent of redlining practices and have functionally insulated its residents from the diversity of surrounding towns."

Boggs said the application will force the Woodbridge Planning and Zoning Commission to hold a hearing at which the group plans to outline how the town's policy violates the federal and state Fair Housing Acts and perpetuates segregation.

Woodbridge First Selectman Beth Heller said the town does not comment on zoning applications. She also declined to comment on the broader allegation that town's zoning practices are discriminatory.

Town officials recently established a committee to to explore issues of diversity and inclusion in Woodbridge, which has a population that is about 75% white, about 2.7% African American and 5.6% Hispanic, according to the state. New Haven's population is 31.5% white, 31.5% Black and 30.3% Hispanic, according to the census data.

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