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Housing issues affect everyone in Connecticut, from those who are searching for a safe place to live, to those who may find it increasingly difficult to afford a place they already call home.WNPR is covering Connecticut's housing and homelessness issues in a series that examines how residents are handling the challenges they face. We look at the trends that matter most right now, and tell stories that help bring the issues to light.

Housing Committee Hearing Provides Preview Of Affordable Housing Debate

Barbour Garden Apartments in Hartford was affordable housing but tenants say their health and access to opportunity was impacted by the housing. Connecticut lawmakers are, once again, tackling the issue of affordable housing this session
Tyler Russell
Connecticut Public Radio
Barbour Garden Apartments in Hartford was affordable housing, but tenants say conditions there affected their health and access to opportunity. Connecticut lawmakers are again taking up the issue of affordable housing this session.

Most elected officials agree that Connecticut needs more affordable housing. The Housing Committee held a hearing Thursday that offered a preview of how lawmakers intend to address the issue this session. 

The bills introduced take a statewide approach to increase affordable housing.

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker voiced his support for HB 6430, a bill that could put more affordable housing in high-opportunity areas -- those with stronger economic and educational outcomes. 

Elicker said the measure would keep towns involved in the decision-making process. “It will not take away local control or give cities power over surrounding suburbs,” he said. 

That’s the fear of attorney Timothy Herbst, who represents a group of Woodbridge residents opposed to an affordable housing application in that town. Herbst said believes the proposed state legislation and the application in Woodbridge are “triangulating a uniform agenda that seeks to strip local control of zoning.” 

State Sen. Tony Hwang observed that the Democratic solutions seem to come at the state level, while Republican fixes focus on keeping control in the hands of municipalities. 

“I think the most viable solution that we have to address this problem,” Hwang said, “is a collaboration between our state, our local municipalities and the federal government.” 

Municipalities are required to comply with state and federal law. The case in Woodbridge could end up moving the debate over affordable housing to the courts.

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