Governor: Towns Need More Affordable Housing
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Wednesday laid out a new plan to nudge towns and cities to allow more affordable housing.
"Without an affordable place to live we cannot grow our economy," Malloy said. "We have made real progress but there is more work to be done."
Saying the "carrots have not worked" — previous state incentives to encourage affordable housing — Malloy pledged to rewrite state statutes governing zoning laws in an effort to force towns and cities to allow and encourage affordable housing.
The governor noted that too often communities write zoning regulations that restrict or prevent fair housing.
"We are changing our approach," Malloy added "Part of it is an educative effort, quite frankly. We need incentives to overcome our resistance to making sure people have fair and decent housing."
The proposal includes provisions that would withhold certain state funding if communities do not allow a reasonable amount of affordable housing and establish a five year reporting period to the state.
A bill introduced to the legislature on behalf of Malloy removes a provision in state law that allows zoning regulations to consider "the character of the district" when establishing regulations controlling housing development.
"This phrase is undefined and unnecessary, as the existing law still directs zoning regulations to consider a district’s suitability for particular uses," a summary of the bill explains.
Held back by zoning? back to top
State Rep. Ronald Lemar, D-New Haven and co-chairman of the planning and development committee, said segregation within Connecticut communities remains a problem.
"[The proposal] will help unlock potential held back by zoning and desegregate our communities," Lemar said.
"We didn’t end up with desegregation polices by accident,” Lemar added. “It’s not an accident our schools have remarkable segregation in urban and rural areas. This is a serious issue and demands serious effort."
Still, Kevin Maloney, a spokesman for the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, said towns already recognize the value of affordable housing.
“They have worked to find pathways for affordable housing that best fit for their particular community,” Maloney said. “And towns are most responsive to affordable housing initiatives from the state that lean on the carrot more than the stick to expand housing.”
Evonne Klein, commissioner of the state Department of Housing, conceded the state made progress by making housing affordable for veterans and homeless residents.
"We are on track to end youth and family homelessness by 2020," Klein said. "It’s time to reform zoning laws by making reasonable changes in the governor’s proposal to continue to expand access to affordable housing."
Klein added "This kind of forward thinking this is how we get it done and build a Connecticut where everyone has a home."
A summary of the bill introduced by Malloy notes that "almost 60 percent of municipalities do not include provisions in their zoning regulations for affordable housing in residential zones."
Of those communities that do include provisions for affordable housing, 95 percent require a special permit, the summary said.
"In addition, 25 percent of municipalities have no provision for the construction of multifamily housing," the summary explains. "This proposal will bring more municipalities into compliance with their obligations under current law."