Point of KNOW Return
CT is known as the land of single-family homes. We all agree Affordable Housing is needed in the state, however, simply building more affordable housing without thinking about the needs of people that would live in them isn’t enough by itself to solve problems for people with less income.
Let’s talk about our town of Stratford.
Stratford is not a place that has exclusive enclaves of neighborhoods but has neighborhoods that are broadly inclusive of everyone---all mankind. Let it be known that Stratford does not build barriers to Affordable Housing.
Stratford’s current housing stock, categorized as affordable, is 6.37%. The town would now be over the ten percent required by the 8-30g classification except that Stratford lost the deed restrictions on Stonybrook Co-Ops and Success Village. It is also important to note that Stratford has double the minimum federal HUD assistance available for apartment owners to offer reduced rents to low-income tenants and help families become self-sufficient.
For people with less income to have more Affordable Housing offered in our town, it is important to have a considerate approach for all involved. It’s important to recognize that it matters deeply on an individual level how a person feels about their home and its location. It is far more than just a roof and four walls.
Although “character of neighborhood” is am ambiguous phrase, in a neighborhood where residents maintain their roots after years of paying taxes and living in a neighborhood zoned for single family homes without a close proximity to stores and with no public transportation available, high-density projects that require zone changes are not the answer for anyone.
However, first, let’s KNOW some facts about Affordable Housing and the 8-30g statute:
According to an article in “CT Viewpoints” by Sean Ghio, July 21, 2017, 8-30g does not allow developers carte blanche to ignore local zoning.
Definition of Affordable Housing: At least three of every 10 units in a development proposed by a developer must be priced for people earning less than 80 percent or 60 percent of the state or area median income so that those people do not have to pay more than 30 percent of their income in rent.
This was set by the US Dept. of Urban Development (HUD).
Does the town have Recourse when a developer uses the Affordable Housing Law for a project?
Yes. The town has recourse when significant issues regarding wastewater, traffic or other substantial objections can be proven. A town cannot block an affordable home creation by claiming they will lower property values, increase crime or swell school budgets. However, the structures must be proven to be environmentally sound without environmental or safety hazards.
In addition, an increase in traffic is not enough for zoning to deny a project. The accessibility of municipal and public safety vehicles is necessary to serve the people of the town. If it is proven that these services are hampered in some way to reach the public for emergencies, this legitimate safety concern would need the approval by police, fire and EMS authorities before the project could be approved.
If it is placed in the right location, an Affordable Housing Development can work well in a community where all families will have the opportunity to enjoy all the town has to offer. Placed in the right location, the residents could be good neighbors and the mixed-income development would offer people better access to schools, jobs, heath care, child care or other vital services.
A “right location” would be building Affordable Housing in a walkable, biking, or mass transit location that fits with the lifestyle that people in multi-family housing will need so they will bring a solid work force to the town and strengthen the town’s tax base. In general, the people living in Affordable Housing would have more disposable income available to them to take advantage of the businesses of the town.
What draws the ire of people in single-family home zones is when developers target Affordable Housing as a tool to circumvent town zoning regulations and, therefore, make more money for themselves with high-density apartment projects. Putting it simply, the economics for developers is why Affordable Housing projects are appealing despite locations and zoning restrictions.
Obviously, a multi-family development proposal is more economically viable to the town if it is placed in a corridor where shopping or health care or other amenities are offered. Then the families in those developments can contribute to the economics of the town. Property values are not devalued in appropriate locations for high-density apartment projects.
However, many developers use properties for Affordable Housing where it is not necessary in order for them to manipulate their profits with tax breaks.
In order to offer Affordable Housing to people that will bring a solid work force to strengthen our town’s tax base and economy, we need to encourage developers to target more properties that are transient oriented with less zoning restrictions.
If developers worked together with the laws of the town where the people can live in communities that offer more desireable locations for Affordable Housing Projects, more people could be offered a safe, affordable place to call home.