On a Thursday afternoon in July of 2009 the Waterbury green is bustling with activity. The bounty at the farmers market is vibrant with color: a green economic development project not just for suburbanites and gourmets. Food stamps are accepted and samples with recipes for fresh salsa are displayed in hopes of helping to bridge the gap between poverty and prosperity, obesity and good health. A few blocks west of the city’s center a young woman struggles to keep on track; she is thinking about completing her high school diploma, getting to her night job on time, and most importantly, keeping her apartment, the ﬁrst real home she’s had in years.
The City of Waterbury, blessed with the good bones of handsome architecture and tree-lined neighborhoods, is a classic example of the New England mill town that once drove the economy of the Northeast. But, like many other cities in New England and across the country, Waterbury sits now at a tipping point as it wrestles with a faltering economy and the visible and invisible knowledge that residents, including an ever-increasing number of children, are homeless or at-risk of becoming so.