CT Residents “All In” on Housing, Food, and a Voice for Everyone

October 11, 2023 - Across Connecticut, more and more people are struggling to afford a home, feed their families, and make their voices heard in the decisions that affect their lives. In a growing number of towns in and around the Naugatuck Valley, longstanding community organizations and their leaders are getting together to do something about it. They call themselves “All In” — All In for Milford, All In for Oxford, All In for Seymour, All In for Ansonia/Derby, and so on.

All In began in the darkest days of the COVID-19 lockdown, when a community-based non-profit in the region, TEAM, Inc. recognized that solving its communities’ problems meant going beyond direct service. “We don’t want to just make poverty more livable,” says TEAM’s CEO David Morgan. “We want to end it. And for that to happen, those most affected by the problem actually have to have a seat at the table, to be meaningfully involved in the decisions that affect our lives. As we like to say, if you’re not at the table, you might be on the menu.”

TEAM found many other area organizations ready to roll up their sleeves — faith organizations, local businesses, farms, food pantries, mutual aid groups, tenants’ unions, and advocacy groups on various issues, as well as the Waterbury-based Naguatuck Valley Project, which has organized broad-based coalitions based around labor rights, housing, and environmental justice.

All In works from the ground up, as neighbors get to know neighbors, share their personal stories, and recognize common ground they never knew they had. “I’ve gotten to know so many of my neighbors through working with All In,” says Milford resident Rachel Merva. “For the first time in my life, I’m working hand-in-glove with Republicans, Democrats, and independents on projects and issues that matter to all of us!”

Three years into the project, All In’s grassroots leaders are serving on town committees and commissions and boards. They are building a community center in Oxford, loosening regulations to allow more studio apartments in Milford, and knocking on doors in Ansonia and Derby to support renters facing predatory landlords. They are leading region-wide efforts to build pantries to make healthy food accessible to all, and to support town governments in carrying out their plans to increase housing options. And they are hosting community meals and gatherings several times a month, where more people can make their voices heard and get involved.

“Seymour is a small town with a big heart,” says Seymour First Selectwoman Annmarie Drugonis. “When anyone in our community is hurting, we all are hurting. When anyone goes above and beyond, we roar together. All In For Seymour represents what it means to be a Seymour resident.”

Residents and organizations interested in learning more and getting involved in All In can contact:

You may also visit the following websites:

About All In for Milford

All In for Milford is an alliance of community leaders and neighborhood organizations that strive to make Milford a city where everyone has a place to live and food to eat, where everyone's voice is heard and we all can thrive!

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