Community Reinvestment

JPMorgan Chase Invests $450K In Center For Housing Opportunity

Results To Support Housing Stability And Increase Equitable Access

Keith Griffin

June 30, 2020

JP Morgan Chase sign | file photo

Fairfield County in Southwestern Connecticut is one of the more affluent regions in New England, if not the United States. It faces problems with housing instability. JP Morgan Chase has committed $450,000 to address the issue.

It is working with Fairfield County’s Community Foundation to establish Fairfield County’s Center for Housing Opportunity. According to the Fairfield County Community Wellbeing Index 2019, 7% of adults did not have enough money for housing or shelter at some point in the preceding year.

The index also found that nearly 40% of households are either housing cost-burdened – meaning that they spend more than the recommended 30% of income on housing or are severely housing cost-burdened, meaning they spend more than 50% of their income on housing. Renters are generally at a higher risk for housing instability with research indicating 28% of renter-occupied households are severely housing cost-burdened.

The center’s goals include enabling and promoting the production and preservation of affordable housing in Fairfield County; creating opportunities for thriving, equitable communities; and positioning housing opportunity as foundational for a healthy, regional economy. The center’s first initiative, the Fairfield County Housing Alliance, is comprised of 65 partner organizations representing diverse geographies, technical expertise, and sectors.

“Thriving neighborhoods are critical for any region’s long-term success. Yet many neighborhoods are struggling from disinvestment, high poverty and unemployment, lack of affordable housing, persistent crime, and other challenges. As a result, many of the most vulnerable residents are shut out of the rewards of a growing economy,” states Matt McSpedon, JPMorgan Chase Connecticut Market Leader. “We know that the future of our business depends on the wellbeing of our communities. Our investment in Fairfield County is critical to the region and we are proud to partner with the organizations that are undertaking this work.”

The county’s largest city, Bridgeport, is one of the country’s poorest cities, according to research by the website Wall Street 24/7. According to the Connecticut Post, a Bridgeport daily newspaper, “Bridgeport is the only city in Connecticut — and the broader New England region — to rank among the worst U.S. cities to live in. A relatively poor city, the typical household in Bridgeport earns just $44,841 a year, and more than one in every five city residents live below the poverty line.”

JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s says its philanthropic mission is to drive inclusive growth and create a working economy for all. It says this “is not simply about being a good corporate citizen, it is a business imperative.”

In Fairfield County this will happen in three stages:

• Phase One of the Fairfield County Center for Housing Opportunity initiative included identifying opportunities; gathering data; convening partners across sectors; surveying funders and practitioners, as well as, developing a municipal planning and zoning toolkit.

• Phase Two includes defining a strategy by creating a workplan, including benchmarks that can be measured and evaluated, and creating a unifying framework and outcome model.

• Phase Three is driving change for opportunity, equity and economic vitality.

When the housing center was conceived, it was agreed that a data-driven strategic approach would drive this initiative. JPMorgan Chase’s investment is helping to create forward-looking data and planning tools to help community leaders better address the biggest challenges facing their communities and introduce a more diverse stock of housing, equipped to sustain a new Connecticut economy.

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