‘Ambitious’ Housing Bill Gets a Second Chance in Connecticut Legislature

After dying in committee last year, the “Fair Share” affordable housing bill is heading to the floor of the Connecticut General Assembly for a vote after receiving the approval of the state’s Housing Committee earlier in March.

The law, if passed, would supplement the state’s existing affordable housing law by establishing town-by-town goals for constructing affordable apartments that, if built, would together add roughly two or three times the housing now required under 8-30g.

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A study shows zoning impediments to multifamily housing in East Lyme and Stonington

East Lyme and Stonington are among 12 towns across the state with zoning barriers that discourage and impede multifamily and affordable housing, according to a study released last week.

"Zoning for Equity: Examining Planning and Zoning Impediments to Housing and School Diversity" is the second federally funded report from Open Communities Alliance, a Connecticut-based civil rights nonprofit organization, in the last two years. The reports are aimed at examining planning and zoning regulations in 24 towns.

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‘Zoning for Equity’ report by local nonprofit finds barriers persist in building affordable housing

Significant barriers to housing options for low to moderate income families with children persist in Connecticut, according to findings from a new “Zoning for Equity: Examining Planning and Zoning Impediments to Housing and School Diversity” report.

The federally-funded report from Open Communities Alliance, looked into the zoning and planning of 12, mostly white and wealthier than average towns including East Lyme, Farmington, Gilford, Monroe, New Canaan, North Branford, Old Saybrook, Shelton, Simsbury, Stonington, Wallingford and Weston.

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New study examines barriers to multifamily housing in CT towns

In at least 12 Connecticut towns, there are major impediments to building multifamily housing that’s affordable, and many of these barriers exist in the name of preserving the towns’ character, a new study says.

The study from the Open Communities Alliance examines zoning policy and land use in East Lyme, Farmington, Guilford, Monroe, New Canaan, North Branford, Old Saybrook, Shelton, Simsbury, Stonington, Wallingford and Weston.

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Advocates: ‘Fair Share’ law would increase affordable housing in CT

An approach to affordable housing that assigns each town a certain number of units to plan and zone for, based on the needs of its region, would help cut down on housing segregation in Connecticut, advocates said Thursday.

Under the proposed “Fair Share” law, the state Office of Policy and Management would assess the need for affordable housing in different parts of Connecticut. Then, towns would share the responsibility to meet that need.

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Growing together: Let’s end segregation and build a better economy

Housing — and housing segregation — has never been so expensive.

Connecticut is one of the costliest places to live in the country. We have the 10th-highest housing costs, so one might expect it to be bursting with high-quality jobs and workers flocking to our state to take part in a thriving economy. Instead, the state’s work force has dropped by 92,000 people since this time last year. Even worse, Connecticut is close to last in economic and population growth in the country. It’s not a coincidence that Connecticut is also one of the most segregated states in the country. Our broken housing policies lead to segregation and economic stagnation — and we pay for it through the nose.

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'Growing Together CT' Aims at State's Affordable Housing Crisis

A new alliance has formed to address Connecticut's affordable housing crisis, with a focus on its urban centers.

"Growing Together Connecticut" is a multi-year effort to pass housing laws and reforms that confront discriminatory policies, like redlining, that have led to disinvestment in cities.

One way to do that is through "fair-share" policies, that require cities to plan and zone for an adequate amount of affordable housing, based on need.

Erin Boggs - executive director of Open Communities Alliance, a coalition member - said these policies would make Connecticut a stronger state.

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Connecticut’s lagging residential construction hurts affordable housing supply, experts say

No state in the country has enough housing that’s available and affordable for the lowest income renters. Connecticut lacks 86,717 rental units that are available and affordable to tenants with extremely low incomes, according to estimates from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

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For other Connecticut residents with low incomes, it means they’re rent burdened — paying more than a third of their income to housing costs.

New residential construction, particularly of multifamily housing, has lagged in Connecticut for years, a problem that’s been exacerbated by the pandemic, industry experts said.

Through the pandemic, developers have seen rising costs of materials and labor for new construction projects. And a portion of what’s been built has been billed as luxury housing, not affordable for people with lower incomes.

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New coalition renews push for more affordable housing in CT

About 20 organizations have joined a coalition to support a new, multi-year initiative designed to support more affordable housing and reduce segregation in Connecticut.

The initiative, called Growing Together Connecticut, aims to build 300,000 new housing units and promote revitalization in Connecticut over the next 10 years. Among the first goals is to create a fair share planning and zoning law for zoning reform in the state.

“From our perspective, Connecticut has this sort of dual housing crisis,” said Erin Boggs, executive director of the Open Communities Alliance. The alliance is an organizing member on the steering committee.

“On one hand, we are one of the most expensive states in the country, and on the other, we are one of the most segregated.”

Municipalities would be responsible for building a share of new affordable housing units to meet a statewide goal. A draft bill stipulates the state will determine the need.

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Open Communities Alliance Statement on Sheff v. O’Neill Settlement

Open Communities Alliance Statement on Sheff v. O’Neill Settlement

January 27, 2022

 

Open Communities Alliance congratulates the Sheff Plaintiffs, their counsel, and the state of Connecticut for reaching a final settlement in the Sheff v. O’Neill school desegregation case. Without the dedication and tenacity of the team that advanced Sheff, the Hartford school system would likely be as segregated today as it was when the case began in 1989.  While there is much left to do to ensure that all students in Hartford have access to high performing schools and there remains a tremendous need to further and ongoing educational integration efforts in the public schools in the Hartford region, it is important to acknowledge this tremendous achievement borne out of decades of civil rights struggle.

“Cases like Sheff are daunting to undertake, hard fought, and imperative to ensure that rights enshrined in our civil rights laws and our state Constitution hold real meaning,” said Open Communities Alliance’s Executive Director Erin Boggs. “We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the Sheff plaintiffs and legal team for doggedly protecting these rights."

This accomplishment also begs other important questions. First, what is the future for school systems across the state that do not get the benefit of the diversity available to many (though still by no means all) students in the Hartford region? Second, understanding that residential segregation drives school segregation, is the state of Connecticut prepared to step up and support structural changes to our housing and zoning policies so that meaningful integrative housing choices are available throughout our state without recourse to costly litigation? Lastly, going forward, how are we as a state going to provide meaningful investment and opportunities to low-income families and children in neighborhoods that have faced systematic disinvestment?

Open Communities Alliance stands ready to be a partner in developing equitable and thoughtful solutions to these challenges.

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