New Haven, Conn.: The Epicenter of Connecticut’s Housing Mafia?

Kaitlin Mahar

Earlier this month, the New Haven Independent published Aliyya Swaby’s article “Affordable Housing Elusive in Boom,” detailing New Haven, Connecticut residents’ desperate need to find a balance between affordable housing and proper living conditions. While the city is attempting to clean itself up – for example, many abandoned, broken-down warehouses in the New Haven area are being converted into luxury apartments –New Haven housing was 29.08 percent affordable in 2010, according to the state of Connecticut. As a college student in the New Haven area, I’m well-aware of the struggle to find affordable housing, and I’ve also heard (and read) plenty about one particular rental agency that is significantly perpetuating the problem: Mandy Management, LLC.

Mandy Management currently has over fifty rental properties in the New Haven/Hamden area listed on its website, but while the properties’ pictures make the apartments seem livable, the conditions under which tenants must live and do business with this agency are dismal. Reviews by current and former residents tell horror stories of filthy apartments and trash-laden complexes, security issues in unsafe areas, unresolved maintenance emergencies (including residents having no heat and brown water), etc. One woman, Elizabeth L., wrote on Yelp that she drove up from Austin, TX after putting down a $350 deposit to take an apartment off the market, only to find it was never even available. The manager’s (alleged) response? “We don’t owe you anything.”

After some arguing back and forth, the agency put Elizabeth up in temporary housing at a rather high cost, and not only were the conditions barely livable, but they were also unlivable to the point that a hole in the roof caused a bat to fly into the apartment on the third night of her stay. She moved quickly after. As one former resident put it, there is a reason why Mandy Management has so many properties available, and it’s not a good one – as soon as people move in, they’re desperate to get out.

This is just an example of the conditions New Haven residents are forced to endure in exchange for affordable housing. Options are either new, astronomically-priced palaces or dilapidated, borderline-tenement apartments; there’s no middle ground. New Haven is trying to change the game, but Mandy Management and other, similar monopolists need to play by the rules.