Housing, Poverty and Land Use:  Myron Orfield and "CenterEdge" analysis for Archdiocese of Hartford now published on the Internet!   (HOMECT) Partnership's review of state of availibility of affordable housing in CT...

Link HERE to final report


Forum explores ways for Westport to escape impact of state's affordable housing law
Jarret Liotta, Westport NEWS
Published 5:33 pm, Saturday, January 24, 2015

Plans for two large multiunit housing projects in Westport -- potentially filed under the state law that grants special consideration to "affordable" housing developments -- would be difficult to deny, a local forum on the law was told last week...

At the heart of local concerns is the idea that developers can take advantage of the law by building much larger and denser housing projects than local regulations would allow. In some cases, following legal battles, projects have even gone forward without the original requisite number of affordable units.

"That's really a problem with the law that I see," said P&Z Director Larry Bradley. "Developers don't always build the project they asked for " They don't even have to build affordable housing."

In Westport, Bradley told the meeting, "we have about 10,399 dwelling units, so in order to meet that 10 percent burden" to be exempt from its provisions, would require construction of nearly 1,000 new units. "We're closer to about 2 percent, two-and-a-half percent."

A moratorium

He explained, however, that credits toward that goal can be accumulated with smaller projects that could allow Westport to be granted a four-year moratorium that exempts it from 8-30g. He said, in view of some current projects underway, the town was potentially only 30 or 40 units away from being able to gather enough "points" to make it happen.

"In order for us to get to the moratorium we probably will have to build another 30 or 40 units," he said.

"Will we ever get to the 10 percent?" Bradley asked rhetorically. "Probably not likely because that'll require another 1,000 units..."

Story in full:  http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Forum-explores-ways-for-Westport-to-escape-impact-6037924.php

State investing $55 million to revitalize old buildings, create affordable housing in cities

By Jacqueline Rabe Thomas
August 2, 2012

Ten vacant and deteriorated buildings in cities around Connecticut will soon be returned to residential use with the help of a $25 million state investment to create new affordable housing. Additionally, another $30 million will be invested in renovating long-neglected public housing sponsored by the state, the governor announced Thursday.

"For so many years we haven't fixed our cities. We have a lot of vacant properties," said Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch. He had just received news that the state will be spending millions in his city to bring life to some 125 residential units in three empty buildings. "None of these projects would be able to be done without this money."

Vacant buildings in Hartford, New Haven, Norwalk, Norwich and Guilford will receive funding, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Thursday at the Capitol. These projects are projected to create 1,018 residential units, 367 of which will be affordable housing.

The state's investment will stimulate about $238 million in private investment and federal funding for a total renovation expense of an estimated $263.5 million, officials said.

"Make no doubt about it, affordable housing is integral to stimulating economic development and growing jobs," Malloy said when announcing which projects will receive funding this year. "Stable housing affects the quality of neighborhoods, the education of our kids, the health of our citizens and the opportunity for individuals and families to live in thriving communities. It also lowers crime."

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the CT MIRROR website]

Editorial in CT POST March 26, 2004
Downsizing homes
It's highly ironic, absurd really, that a developer speaking against potential building size restrictions in Fairfield early this month said that the regulation changes under discussion would lead to the town losing its colonial appearance.  After all, there's nothing colonial at all about the "starter castles," or "McMansions" pick your own derogatory nickname that have been changing the New England landscape for over a decade now.

Supersized homes that seem to occupy every inch of property they sit on have been rapidly replacing much smaller homes in nearly every regional community's already developed neighborhoods. So it's really the popularity of such houses that's led to Fairfield and other municipalities losing their colonial atmosphere, not any proposed size limitations.

These opulent displays of wealth, with more square footage than any family could ever really need, seem to be hated by everyone except the people buying them. Indeed, at the same time as these oversized homes are readily selling, many communities are struggling to place size limits on such construction.  One such community is Fairfield, where the Town Plan and Zoning Commission is considering placing height limits on homes.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the CT POST website]

Housing costlier than '02;   Connecticut among the least affordable
By PAM DAWKINS, CT POST, September 9, 2003
The wage needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment in the Bridgeport metropolitan area jumped 11.11 percent between 2002 and 2003, the largest leap in the state.     Monday, the National Low-Income Housing Coalition released its annual report tracking national housing affordability; Connecticut again ranked as one of the "least-affordable states."

"It's expensive to live in Bridgeport," said Tanisha Jenkins, a 32-year-old single mother.  "I've always worked, but I've gone through two layoffs," said Jenkins, who last year started a new job that pays less than she is used to.  Jenkins, who lives with her 4-year-old daughter in a one-bedroom apartment on Charles Street, has worked for nearly a year as a team leader in the patient billing group at Dianon Systems' medical testing laboratory in Stratford.

"There are people who are getting up every day and working they're just looking to be able to keep a roof over their heads," said Carla Miklos, director of family assets for Bridgeport-based nonprofit Family Services Woodfield.  In Connecticut, a person needs to earn $18 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment. That earned the state the   rank of sixth on the list of least affordable states, behind Massachusetts ($22.40);  California ($21.18); New Jersey ($19.74); New York ($18.87); and Maryland ($18.85).

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the CT POST website]

CCLU Sues State Agency Over Low-Income Housing Pattern;  Suit Says Agency Pushes Poor To City
April 7, 2003 - by OSHRAT CARMIEL And MIKE SWIFT, Courant Staff Writers

A state agency charged with creating affordable housing is being accused of promoting segregation by the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union, which argues that the agency finances too many low-income apartments in already poor and largely minority neighborhoods.

In a state lawsuit, the CCLU argues that the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, which administers a federal tax credit program to encourage the construction of low-income apartments, approves too many proposals in "racially concentrated neighborhoods" that are already overburdened with poverty.  Concern over segregated neighborhoods is paramount, lawyers say, in light of the state's obligation to desegregate the Hartford schools through a new settlement in the Sheff vs. O'Neill case.

But the CCLU case could become less relevant. The federal tax credit plan, which has prodded corporations to invest in hundreds of low-income rental apartments in Hartford since 1987, could become less appealing to corporate investors if a tax cut plan proposed by President Bush in January is approved in its current form.  Philip D. Tegeler, CCLU's legal director, said the case has merit regardless of what happens to the federal tax credit plan and he is going forward with the lawsuit filed in December. He is less concerned about the future of the tax credit program than with how the state has managed it, he said.

According to the lawsuit, CHFA has approved proposals for low-income apartments with little regard for the neighborhoods.  "It's one of the reasons why we have segregated schools in this state," Tegeler said. "It's another example of a government agency that has been supporting the system, but has not taken serious efforts to address the problem of segregation. Our case says they have an obligation to do that under state law."  Carol DeRosa, a housing authority spokeswoman, declined comment.

The plaintiff in the case is, essentially, Hartford's Asylum Hill neighborhood, where, over the protests of residents, the housing authority approved corporate tax credits valued at $260,786 in 2001, to build 21 apartments on Huntington Street. The approval came one year after the agency approved $435,867 worth of tax credits to build 45 apartments on the same street. Together, the suit says, the two projects "represent a substantial additional concentration of low-income families."

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the Hartford COURANT website]

From the New London DAY editorial page...
A critical housing shortage
Published on 04/28/2002

The housing crisis that now faces Southeastern Connecticut is an echo of the housing difficulties the region grappled with in the late 1980s. Now, as then, the region faces
rising home prices, high rents and limited availability.

But there are two important differences.

The region then had 11,000 more manufacturing jobs. They paid high wages that enabled people to better afford higher housing costs. Southeastern Connecticut has
added plenty of jobs since, but most are service jobs that pay far less than manufacturing employment. A result: People are spending a staggering amount of money for some, up to 70 percent of their take-home pay to pay for shelter.

The state of Connecticut in the late 1980s spent tens of millions of dollars on housing programs. The state government today spends only 10 percent of what it did on housing a little over a decade ago, housing developers say.

The challenge is daunting.

The area will require the development of an additional 5,100 housing units by 2005 to keep up with demand, according to a recent analysis of conducted by the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments.

That means the area will need in the next three years as many units as were built in 10 years in the 1990s.

There's little choice about this. Without more affordable housing, people will suffer and the economy will stall.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at THE DAY (New London, CT) website]


 By: Judith Lohman, Chief Analyst

You asked for a comparison of the annual property taxes that would be paid on a hypothetical $ 300,000 home in New  Haven, Bridgeport, and Hartford and some of their wealthier suburbs based on 2001-02 mill rates. The mill rates used in this report are published by the Office of Policy and Management.

The tables below show the requested comparisons for the three cities and some of their suburbs. The tables assume that the $ 300,000 house is assessed at 70% of market value, or $ 210,000.

                                                Table 1: New Haven and Suburbs

                                             Hypothetical Tax on $ 300,000 House

Town                                      Mill Rate                                     Hypothetical Tax

New Haven                             34. 95                                            $ 7,340

Woodbridge                            31. 90                                            6,699

Guilford                                    31. 75                                             6,668

Durham                                    29. 70                                            6,237

Branford                                    27. 92                                            5,863

Madison                                    26. 26                                            5,515

Clinton                                        26. 09                                            5,479


                                                Table 2: Bridgeport and Suburbs

                                             Hypothetical Tax on $ 300,000 House

Town                                                     Mill Rate                                      Hypothetical Tax

Bridgeport                                                65. 00                                        $ 13,650

Easton                                                       28. 20                                        5,922

Wilton                                                        28. 11                                        5,903

Redding                                                    27. 00                                        5,670

Trumbull                                                    24. 00                                        5,040

Weston                                                        22. 42                                        4,708

Westport                                                    17. 20                                        3,612


                                                 Table 3: Hartford and Suburbs

                                             Hypothetical Tax on $ 300,000 House

Town                                                Mill Rate                                            Hypothetical Tax

Hartford                                            48. 00                                                $ 10,080

Simsbury                                            36. 30                                                7,623

West Hartford                                    35. 69                                                7,495

Glastonbury                                        34. 60                                                7,266

Wethersfield                                        32. 34                                                6,791

Avon                                                    25. 90                                                5,439

Farmington                                        25. 00                                                5,250

     JL: ro

Church Takes Stand On Sprawl; Leads Effort To Publicize Effects Of Suburban Growth On Cities, Towns
January 3, 2002
By MIKE SWIFT, Courant Staff Writer

The Roman Catholic Church, one of the state's most influential institutions, is pursuing a public dialogue that ultimately may bump up against another central aspect of
Connecticut life: the political sanctity of city and town.

Hoping to make the state's future development an issue of social justice, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford is cobbling together a unique coalition that ranges from business groups to environmental and civil liberties organizations.

The goal of the CenterEdge Project is to educate people about the social and economic disparities created by the state's long-term pattern of development, one that has
seen unchecked growth on the fringe of metropolitan areas, while core cities lost jobs and people.  The CenterEdge Project has hired a Minnesota firm to produce a detailed series of economic and demographic maps of the state's 169 towns. They show disturbing regional trends, including the spread of child poverty into suburbs to the north and east of Hartford, and rising crime rates in some suburbs even as crime declined in the cities.

With more than 1.3 million Roman Catholics, about 41 percent of the state's population, Connecticut is one of the nation's most Catholic states. A message from the church's pulpits that suburban sprawl contributes to the problems of the cities would carry some weight.  Whether that will happen in 2002 remains unclear. Bishop Peter A. Rosazza, honorary chairman of the CenterEdge Project, says he's not sure yet whether the effort will limit itself to education, or move into lobbying for change.

But Rosazza says finding a way to reduce the disparity between cities and suburbs is a social justice issue the church cannot ignore.

Looking out of the window of his office in New Haven, he says, he sees the disparity and wonders what can be done about it. "That's at the basis of it: How can we create an environment for a healthier Connecticut, not only the `environment' in the technical term for that, but also a peaceful one where people's needs are met?" Rosazza says.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the Hartford COURANT website]

OLR Amended Bill Analysis

sHB 5434 (as amended by House "A")*



This bill makes several changes to the affordable housing appeals procedure law. It extends, from three to four years, the length of an
appeals procedure moratorium a town can obtain. It also extends, by one year, any moratorium in effect on the bill's effective date
(October 1, 2002). By law, a town qualifies for a moratorium by obtaining a certification from the economic and community development
commissioner showing it meets a specific threshold of affordable housing units created since 1990.

The bill also adds deed-restricted mobile manufactured homes and accessory ("in-law") apartments to the list of affordable housing units
that count toward a town earning an exemption from the appeals procedure. The deed restriction must (1) be recorded on the land record;
(2) last 10 years; and (3) require the units to be sold or rented at prices so that individuals or families, whose income is at most 80% of the
median income, will pay no more than 30% of their income. It requires the commissioner to produce model deed restrictions that satisfy
these appeals procedure requirements.

Finally, the bill eliminates the owner-occupied requirement for local-option property tax credits triggered by an affordable housing deed

*House Amendment "A" adds deed-restricted mobile homes and accessory apartments to the list of affordable housing units that count
toward a town earning an appeals procedure exemption. It also requires the commissioner to produce model deed restrictions that satisfy
the appeals procedure restriction requirements and permits towns to waive deed restriction filing fees.

It also restores the exemption for affordable housing proposals from open space, parks, and playground zoning requirements. This leaves
current law unchanged. The original bill made such housing proposals subject to these local requirements.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2002


To count toward an appeals procedure exemption, mobile homes must be located in a mobile home park, and accessory apartments must
be "legally approved," presumably through local zoning procedures.

The bill defines an "accessory apartment" as a separate living unit that:

1. is attached to the primary unit of a house that has the external appearance of a single-family residence,

2. has a full kitchen,

3. has square footage no greater than 30% of the house footage;

4. has an internal doorway connecting the two units,

5. is not billed separately from the primary unit for utilities, and

6. complies with building code and health and safety regulations.


Removes Owner-Occupied Requirement for Local Tax Credits

The bill eliminates the owner-occupied requirement for local-option property tax credits triggered by an affordable housing deed
restriction. Under current law, a town may adopt an ordinance providing such credits to owner-occupants of single-family or multi-family
dwellings who place long-term affordable housing deed restrictions on the dwellings. By law, the deed restrictions must be covenants or
restrictions filed on the land record requiring the dwellings to be sold or rented only to people whose income is 80% or less of the area or
state median income, whichever is less. The restriction must last 40 years and cannot be revoked by the owner or subsequent owner until it

Binding and Recorded Restrictions

The bill specifies that in order to count toward the procedure exemption, deed restrictions to keep units affordable must be binding and
recorded on the land record.

Fee Waiver

The bill permits towns to waive any fee that would otherwise be required to file an affordability deed restriction on the town land records.


Appeals Procedure

Under the procedure, a town bears the burden of proving certain facts in court if a developer appeals its decision rejecting a proposed
affordable housing development. (Normally, developers bear this burden in land-use appeals. ) The procedure applies to towns with less
than 10% of their housing stock in affordable housing, as defined by law. Currently, the procedure applies to 137 towns, with the
remaining 32 towns exempt (because they have at least 10% of their housing stock certified as affordable).

Procedure Moratorium

A town qualifies for a moratorium each time it adds certain types of affordable housing units that equal 2% of the total number of housing
units it had as of the last 10-year census or 75 unit-equivalent points, whichever is greater. A unit-equivalent point is the value the law
assigns to types of units. The lower the income level of the unit's tenant or buyer, the more points are awarded for that unit. For example,
family units restricted for tenants with incomes at or below 80% of median income are awarded one and one-half points each. When the
income level is restricted to 60% and 40% median, the units are awarded two and two and one-half points each, respectively.

Legislative History

The House referred the bill (File 261) to the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee on April 10, and the committee reported it
favorably on April 17.


Select Committee on Housing

Joint Favorable Substitute Change of Reference

 Yea         10
 Nay          2

Planning and Development Committee

Joint Favorable Report

 Yea         17
 Nay          0

Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee

Joint Favorable Report

 Yea         45
 Nay           0

Friday, October 11, 2002 - 3:05:36 PM MST (Darien NEWS-REVIEW) - opponents of affordable housing in Darien

                   Resident Requests Reopening Of Avalon Decision

                    By Michael C. Juliano mjuliano@bcnnew.com

                    A week after the Planning and Zoning Commission's approval of AvalonBay Communities'
                    application for a 189-unit condominium complex on Hollow Tree Ridge Road's former D'Addario
                    property, Darienite and environmental engineer Dot Kelly has submitted to P&Z a letter
                    requesting another hearing on "Condition BB, contending P&Z had approved the application after
                    receiving false information on the property.

                    Drafted in December 1998, "Condition BB states "In evaluating this application, the Planning and Zoning Commission
                    has relied on information provided by the applicant. If such information subsequently proves to be false, deceptive,
                    incomplete and/or inaccurate, this permit shall be modified, suspended or revoked by the Commission. As part of her
                    request, Ms. Kelly said she is requesting another hearing because "the Connecticut DEP Remediation Staff has provided
                    information indicating that AvalonBay's pond sediment testing and the freshwater compliance levels were incomplete
                   and/or inaccurate.

                    Furthermore, Ms. Kelly told P&Z, "Based on my description of the information in AvalonBay's sediment sampling report,
                    the DEP sediment specialist, Traci Iott, reported that the bottom sediment samples did not meet the minimum solids
                    content required for sediment samples and therefore should have been reported on a dry-weight basis.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the Darien NEWS-REVIEW website]

Greenwich officials oppose increased state aid proposal
By Hoa Nguyen, Greenwich TIME Staff Writer
January 27, 2004
Corrupt and inept city leaders -- not inadequate revenues -- are to blame for the problems of several of the state's urban areas, several elected officials from Greenwich said last night during a public hearing on a report addressing fiscal and land-usechallenges facing Connecticut.

"Poor government can't be fixed by spending money or by shifting the tax burden around," First Selectman Jim Lash said during the meeting in Town Hall.  He joined several other officials from Greenwich in protesting a recommendation of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Property Tax Burdens and Smart Growth Incentives. The report recommended reducing dependence on local property tax revenues and replacing it with increased state aid to municipalities.  Reliance on the property tax, the report said, forces local officials to encourage development to grow grand lists and increase tax revenue.

Greenwich officials said local government is well-run and efficient in its use of property tax revenues.  Greater reliance on other state revenues such as the income tax would reward poorly run local governments.  State Rep. Lew Wallace, D-Danbury, co-chairman of the legislature's Planning and Development Committee, attended the public hearing to listen to reaction to the report as part of the committee's effort to elicit comments on the report.

The Blue Ribbon report was issued in October, after over a year of study on the effect of the property tax and ways to encourage "smart growth." Several of the report's recommendations may eventually be proposed as state bills, Wallace said.  Those include providing training to local tax and land use decision-makers, creating an integrated view of state development trends by linking geographic information system databases and creating a split-rate property tax, which would tax land separate from buildings so development could be encouraged in some areas and discouraged in others, Wallace said.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the Greenwich TIME website]

Housing officials call for fairness in rents
By Joy L. Woodson, Stamford ADVOCATE Staff Writer
September 6, 2004

Several housing authorities in lower Fairfield County think a proposed change in rent standards set by the federal government won't be fair.

Fair market rents, published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, represent the average rent for an apartment and utilities in an area. The amounts would change Oct. 1.

HUD wants to lump the entire county together, instead of separating cities by housing markets -- areas with similar housing characteristics that compete for renters and buyers.

Now that counties will be considered one housing market, average rent standards will decrease in areas with higher-priced housing and increase in areas with lower-priced housing, meeting at the same median price.

For example, according to posted rates, the average rent for a one bedroom is $800 in Bridgeport and $1,200 in Stamford.

HUD's new fair market rent for a one bedroom would be $950, causing the average estimated rates to increase for Bridgeport and decrease for Stamford.

The changes would come at the same time as a proposed $1.2 billion cut to HUD's Section 8 voucher program.

The estimates would affect tenants in the Section 8 and moderate-rent programs by altering eligibility requirements, which depend on the income of each tenant.

The new rents also would decrease the amount of money landlords could collect because Section 8 landlords can't charge more than amounts set by HUD.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at the Stamford ADVOCATE website]

Housing disaster feared
By ROBERT KOCH, Hour Staff Writer
Sunday, September 5, 2004
REGION -- Public housing authorities and elected officials are forecasting disaster, if the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development next month redraws Section 8 fair-market rents to conform to counties instead of housing markets.

The Norwalk Housing Authority, which oversees a relatively affluent market, is predicting that it will lose $3 million annually, that local landlords will leave the popular housing voucher program, and that tenants will be left homeless.  Under Section 8, tenants pay 30 percent of their gross income toward rent, and HUD pays the private landlord the difference up to the established "fair-market rent." In October, many of those fair-market rents could change dramatically, when counties rather than often-smaller housing markets are used to calculate them.

Under the redistricting, Greenwich, Norwalk and Stamford will be merged with other Fairfield County communities. The move is expected to drop fair-markets rent for those and other relatively affluent communities, while raising fair-market rents in poorer communities such as Bridgeport.  In Norwalk, the HUD fair-market rent for a one-bedroom apartment would drop from $1,225 to $950. That's a $275 loss in guaranteed income to the private landlord participating in the Section 8 program.
Candace E. Mayer, Norwalk Housing Authority deputy director, fears that landlords put in such circumstances will stop taking Section 8 tenants, and recapture their losses by renting to others who can pay $1,225 (see related story).

"It's up to the landlords whether they want to participate in the program. Will landlords continue to participate in the program with the lower rent standards?" Mayer asks. "It's hard to imagine that this will not lead to people being homeless." A HUD spokesman reminded that the redistricting comes at the request of the federal Office of Management and Budget, and remains a proposal, as the department continues to solicit input.  Still, HUD is scheduled to implement the redistricting in less than a month. On Oct. 1, fair-market rents are scheduled to be based on counties rather than "cities and towns sharing similar housing and market characteristics," according to the Norwalk Housing Authority.

"The Northeast really doesn't operate on counties," Mayer said.  Mayer said 770 Norwalk families participate in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher and Moderate Rehabilitation Single-Room Occupancy programs. Most are in the Section 8 program; both programs use fair-market rents.  Under the redistricting, HUD fair-market rents for Norwalk would drop from $1,225 to $950 for a one-bedroom; from $1,493 to $1,100 for a two-bedroom; from $2,001 to 1,316 for a three-bedroom; and from $2,210 to $1,725 for four-bedroom apartments, if the city is merged with Fairfield County, Mayer said.

[Please read the rest of this article in the archives at THE HOUR (Norwalk, CT) website]