Can you imagine a Connecticut in which every town embraced a portion of the regional affordable housing need designed to ensure fairness and economic vibrancy?
There is actually a way to promote a balance in the location of affordable housing – which in turn promotes racial, ethnic, and economic integration – and fosters economic vibrancy in every town. A “fair share” housing plan would allocate to every town a reasonable apportionment of the regional need for affordable housing considering town characteristics like job access, school performance, environmental considerations, and resources. Fair share goals can be incorporated into the state’s central land use planning document, the Plan of Conservation and Development, and the local plans produced by towns. Without such changes, the state will likely be out of compliance with its federal duty to affirmatively further fair housing.
Let’s take the first steps towards Fair Share!
Component 1: Know the Need. Adopting a fair share approach is a long-term policy proposition that requires discussion and evaluation, but the first step is to determine the actual and projected need for affordable housing at various levels across regions of Connecticut.
This is central to performing basic state planning functions. Additional legislative guidance is needed, however, to ensure such data is produced in a useful manner. In addition to more accurate overall information on housing need, it is important to know the demand for features like two- and three-bedroom units and units that are accessible for people with mobility challenges. Having a handle on this kind of basic information is fundamental to good housing planning. Furthermore, a needs assessment is already required by state law and by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as part of participating in several of its programs. This is information Connecticut does not currently compile.
Component 2: Generate Regional Fair Share Allocations. Once we know the actual need for affordable housing, it is then essential to have recommendations from the state, with input from Councils of Government, municipalities, and housing and civil rights experts on an appropriate allocation of this need by region. This will allow municipalities to begin to envision what hosting their fair share would actually look like, taking into account town resources, access to jobs, viability of public transportation routes, and more.
Component 3: Engage towns in generating initial fair share estimates. Ask towns, as part of the Plan of Conservation and Development process, to generate their own proposals for hosting their fair share percentage and plans for reaching that goal. Towns would also be asked to identify barriers they face when planning for affordable housing production.