Housing Investments for Connecticut’s Future: Support Capital Investment in geographically balanced affordable housing by authorizing $100 million each year for the Affordable Housing FLEX Fund, and $50 million each year for the state Housing Trust Fund.
Streamline the Zoning Enabling Act (H.B. 5132): The power to zone is delegated by the state to municipalities through Connecticut’s Zoning Enabling Act, CGS Sec. 8-2. This statute, passed in 1959 and amended over 30 times since then, has become a hodgepodge of policy directives challenging for volunteer zoning boards to decipher. The statute also interacts with other legal mandates in ways that are typically not entirely clear to a volunteer zoning board member. More information available here.
Transparency for Municipal Plans of Conservation and Development: Every ten years each municipality is required to submit a town Plan of Conservation and Development outlining the locality’s plans for environmental conservation and growth. Alternatively, a town may submit a letter explaining why it has not submitted such a plan. These plans are required to outline the manner in which the town will address affordable housing needs. Electronic versions of these important documents are not collected in one place that is accessible to the public but, instead, typically reside on municipal websites and can be difficult to locate.
Make meaningful the state discretionary funding incentive in the Plan of Conservation and Development process:The statute governing municipal Plans of Conservation and Development provides an incentive for submission: access to state discretionary dollars. Unfortunately, this incentive structure is made meaningless by a provision that permits a town access to this funding if, instead of submitting a plan, it submits a letter explaining why it did not submit a plan. Furthermore, there is no obligation for the Office of Policy and Management to review municipal plans to ensure that they meaningfully considered the need for affordable housing.
Payment standard transparency for housing voucher programs (H.B. 5125): Government housing vouchers are a critical tool to help families avoid homelessness and gain housing stability. Because the 45 housing authorities that administer federal housing vouchers in Connecticut all have the discretion to set the maximum apartment rent in which a voucher may be used, and this information is not necessarily publicly available, and certainly not in one place, it is often very difficult for voucher holders wishing to move out of the municipality where their voucher is issued, including families wishing to move to higher opportunity areas, to do so. More information available here.
Expand Housing Authority Jurisdiction (S.B.110): Connecticut state law limits the jurisdiction of housing authorities to town borders. This means some of our best mission-driven housing providers are significantly limited in how they can contribute to addressing regional affordable housing and segregation crises. It also means that families relying on the help of housing authorities are restricted in where they can live and as a result disproportionately live in areas offering fewer opportunities for life success. More information available here.
Open Choice Vouchers Pilot (S.B. 108): Hundreds of Hartford families opt to participate in the Open Choice school desegregation program, a voluntary program enabling Hartford children to attend schools in suburban districts. Many of these families qualify for tenant-based vouchers, and studies, surveys and interview data reveal that many low-income residents of disinvested communities are interested in moving to high opportunity towns; yet, without the government assistance provided by these vouchers, many recipients cannot afford to do so. More information available here.
Healthy Housing Vouchers Pilot (S.B. 188): A growing body of research shows that when interested families with housing vouchers move to lower poverty areas they experience life improvements, including positive health outcomes. As documented in a recent paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (December 2019), one persistent health challenge that can be ameliorated with a “move to opportunity” is childhood asthma. Along with health improvements come cost savings for hospitals and insurance programs. Despite these benefits, housing voucher holders face a host of barriers to moving to healthy neighborhoods. Other recent research demonstrates that many of these barriers to accessing healthier neighborhoods can be overcome by 40% of voucher families when they are given access to specialized counseling called Mobility Counseling, an approach which has been adopted by Connecticut’s Department of Housing. More information available here.