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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.
Private Land Trusts Need to Acknowledge the Role Conservation Plays in Exacerbating Inequitable Access to Land
Last year, Open Communities Alliance (OCA) sought to expand housing opportunities and end exclusionary zoning practices in Woodbridge via an application to the TPZ. In its study of our zoning history, the work of the Yale Law School Housing Clinic found that Woodbridge has repeatedly resisted calls to end its exclusionary practices. According to the study, a backlash from residents concerned about property values, quality of life, and “the character” of Woodbridge ensues whenever the town attempts to remove restrictions. Ultimately the town abandons significant changes rather than risk upsetting vocal anti-density residents.Read more
A lack of land for multi-family homes, limited infrastructure and local zoning restrictions are among the challenges faced in increasing towns’ affordable housing supply, according to a new report from Open Communities Alliance.
“The easier you make it, the less it’s going to cost and the more you’re probably going to get,” Roger Maldonado, an attorney with the organization, said at a presentation Thursday evening.
The report, Zoning for Equity, examines 12 Connecticut towns that have low percentages of affordable housing, including Darien, North Haven, Southbury, Fairfield, Ridgefield, Orange and Westport.Read more
Facing pressure to allow more than just expensive single-family homes to be built in Woodbridge, local zoning officials voted Monday to allow multi-family housing to be built on a sliver of land — provided such projects are first vetted through public hearing and subject to approval from the local Planning and Zoning Commission.
The decision comes more than eight months after a coalition of civil rights attorneys and a developer teamed up to challenge this suburban town’s zoning practices that left it with virtually no affordable housing – and segregated. The share of Black or Latino residents living in this suburb that borders New Haven is one-third the share living throughout the state.
Nearly everywhere in Woodbridge requires 1.5 acres to build a single family home, and only 35 housing units in town are reserved for low-income residents, nearly all of which are solely for elderly residents. Until Monday, Woodbridge essentially prohibited multi-family housing everywhere in its borders.Read more