CT zoning reform bills an attempt to address housing crisis
Lawmakers have moved several zoning reform measures through the committee process this session, a major part of Democrats’ push to address the housing crisis in Connecticut.
The Planning and Development Committee finished its last scheduled meeting of the legislative session Friday and passed House Bill 6890, also known as the Work, Live, Ride bill. Members also approved Gov. Ned Lamont’s housing bill, which includes financial support for transit-oriented development.
Earlier this year, the Housing Committee also passed House Bill 6633, the fair share bill. It would require towns to plan and zone for a certain number of units of affordable housing based on the needs of the region, which would be determined in an assessment.
The Work, Live, Ride bill and the fair share bill aim to help address a lack of housing in Connecticut.Read more
Fair Share, Adding 8-30g Units, Senior Tax Abatements: Up Late with the Housing Committee
The controversial Fair Share bill – affordable housing legislation that was killed in committee in 2021 – was back on the table at Tuesday’s Housing Committee public hearing along with a number of other bills up for discussion.
“There’s a consensus that we are in an affordable housing crisis. Connecticut, led by its political leaders, has an important decision to make – do we want to address zoning over-regulation and plan and zone for a sustainable economy and equitable future or not? It’s really that simple,” said Erin Boggs, executive director of Open Communities Alliance, who spoke in favor of the bill.Read more
CT lawmakers eye fixes for ‘deeply broken’ affordable housing voucher system
A group of top-ranking state lawmakers are eyeing a series of legislative fixes following a Hearst Connecticut Media Group investigation which found many low-income residents who received government subsidies to help them afford rent were ultimately unable to use the aid.
The proposals include lifting onerous restrictions on where affordable housing vouchers can be used, creating a centralized waiting list to simplify the application process and requiring agencies to post online how much vouchers are worth and rules around their use.
Other ideas call for getting landlords who accept vouchers paid faster and improving landlord confidence in the program so more are willing to participate.Read more
Zoning for affordability: Housing advocates say public support is there
Advocates for a bill that would spread the need for affordable housing across the state instead of allowing it to concentrate in cities, pointed to recent poll results as evidence that Connecticut residents are ready for “transformative change.”
The survey of 2,562 registered voters by Embold Research found that 73% believe there should be “housing options in every town for residents of all incomes.” The remaining 27% said those who can’t afford market-rate housing in a town “need to move somewhere else.”Read more
Should state overrule towns on affordable housing? More than 60% of CT residents say yes
Connecticut residents hold generally favorable views toward policies that would make housing in the state more affordable, even in cases when those policies would undermine municipal control over housing, a new survey has found.
According to the survey, sponsored by a coalition of advocacy groups, 61 percent of registered voters agreed that "when towns won’t act to make housing more affordable, the state government should step in so that Connecticut doesn’t get too expensive for everyone," compared to 39 percent who said that "housing is a purely local issue and towns should be able to make whatever decisions they want about it."Read more
Advocates plan affordable housing priorities for 2023 legislative session
From policy reform to requests for financial infusions, affordable housing advocates are looking at different ways to address the widespread lack of housing affordability when the state legislature convenes on Jan. 4.
A separate coalition of more than 45 mostly nonprofit social service and advocacy groups called Growing Together Connecticut has taken up the banner of zoning reform. The group was launched earlier this year by the Hartford-based Open Communities Alliance, a group that started almost a decade ago to address racial segregation.
The new consortium brings together advocates in the realms of housing, civil rights, medicine and the faith community to push for building up existing urban communities and more affordable housing options in the suburbs.Read more
How one lawsuit could change housing opportunity in Connecticut towns
Aleena Thomas is living in her three bedroom home in Derby with one foot already out the door. Her landlord has asked her to leave. And she has every intention of doing so, but first she has to find the ideal home as a single mother of five children.
Her hopes include a four bedroom unit in New Haven county so she can stay close to her job and school, a driveway so she doesn’t have to park two blocks away from her home and a yard so her children have ample room to play.
“I'm ready to go, like I have everything packed up already. But I don't know if that's gonna even be possible because I still have not found anything,” Thomas said.
She’s been on the hunt since June and said it’s been hard even with a realtor by her side.Read more
Lawmakers eye reforms after report finds half of affordable housing vouchers going unused in CT
Federal and state lawmakers are eyeing major reforms in response to a Hearst Connecticut Media Group investigation which revealed half of vouchers issued to help low-income residents find affordable housing in the state went unused.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT, called the situation “heartbreaking” and cited how the report found a confluence of factors has fueled the problem.
“We are in kind of a perfect storm of sky-high rents, mountains of red tape, and discrimination that we need to address,” Blumenthal added. “[For voucher holders] the housing market is a maze, a labyrinth of restrictions and rules. We need to deal with some of the root causes of these problems.”Read more
Advocates say CT needs over 137,000 affordable housing units. They want it fairly allocated to more towns.
Jahaira Vega said she was in shock when she received an eviction notice from her landlord requiring her and her two daughters to leave their apartment after 16 years of living in West Hartford.
She knew the landlord was upset with her for reporting heating and electrical issues in her apartment, but Vega said she never imagined having to relocate her family to another home.
It is stories such as Vega’s that prompted the Growing Together Connecticut coalition of 38 local organizations to hold a briefing to address the high cost of housing within the state and call for change.Read more
Housing advocacy group announces priorities for legislative session
The upcoming legislative session is likely to bring a new effort to pass meaningful zoning reforms, according to advocates for a fund that rewards towns that create affordable housing and eviction protections for tenants.
Growing Together Connecticut, a consortium of about 45 advocacy groups, faith leaders and housing experts, held a press conference Tuesday to announce their proposals for several housing-related measures they want to see lawmakers take up. The proposals included another attempt to pass what’s called a “fair share” law, which would require towns to plan and zone for more affordable housing based on the needs of the region and not just within their borders.Read more