A small CT town accepted a ‘first-of-its-kind’ affordable housing project. Why it finally fit in.

Connecticut has an affordable housing problem.

Connecticut has a job vacancy problem.

The two problems, no surprise to many, go together, according to advocates for housing in the state. If people can’t afford to live here, they can’t take the jobs that are available, they say.

And yet, local residents, citing local control, fight against multiple-unit developments coming into their towns.

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While Orange, with its population of about 14,000 people, has made a positive step, the Open Communities Alliance would like to bring a Fair Share plan for planning and zoning to the entire state.

“We’re missing about 120,000 units of affordable housing,” said Erin Boggs, executive director of the Open Communities Alliance, which advocates for affordable housing.

“Rents have been skyrocketing for a long time; our homelessness numbers are way up; our housing production numbers are way down,” she said. “We have between 90,000 and 100,000 jobs that are vacant, and a lot of those vacancies are tied to potential employees not having places to live in Connecticut, so it doesn’t sound worth it for them to come here. It’s both a social justice crisis but also an economic crisis.”

There’s simply a lack of housing inventory throughout the state in general, sometimes as low as a 1% vacancy rate in a given town, said Hugh Bailey, policy director for the alliance.

“There just aren’t units available,” Bailey said. “And those units that are available are subject to bidding wars. That price gets much higher than the initial asking price. And the jobs available might support someone paying in a place that has the asking price but, once it’s gone on the market and it goes up, it no longer becomes viable.”

 

A small CT town accepted a ‘first-of-its-kind’ affordable housing project. Why it finally fit in., Ed Stannard, Hartford Courant, May 22, 2024, available here

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