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Housing challenges persist statewide. But there are reasons to remain optimistic, CT governor says

Lygnd Menard, 14, sits on steps of his aunt’s apartment as his cousin King Dorleans, 15, plays around with a basketball. The apartment, part of the Colonial Village public housing complex, will soon undergo a major renovation. As the hot housing market burns people attempting to find affordable housing, a huge pot of state money legislators earmarked for the construction of affordable housing is going unspent.Every year, state legislators earmark millions of dollars to build new affordable housing. But as the housing market has heated up, Connecticut Public’s Accountability Project has found there’s a $450 million pot of money that hasn’t been spent.
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Lygnd Menard, 14, sits on steps of his aunt’s apartment as his cousin King Dorleans, 15, plays around with a basketball at the Colonial Village public housing complex which underwent a major renovation.

Connecticut is in need of more housing units, from affordable apartments to single-family homes.

Gov. Ned Lamont addressed realtors at the Connecticut Association of Realtors conference at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford on Monday. Lamont offered advice on how to attract residents and sell homes.

“First of all, you need more housing inventory. We're desperately short right now. And we've put $600 million over the next two years into housing, and that's not just affordable housing,” Lamont said. “But frankly, those are studios and one bedrooms, often in downtown areas, hopefully next to major transit areas.”

Lamont said building more apartment complexes near downtown areas may entice older residents and empty-nesters to sell their homes and downsize, allowing more single-family homes to come on the market.

Connecticut became a popular destination during the COVID-19 pandemic as new residents sought refuge from larger neighboring cities with higher COVID rates, such as New York City.

“We had about 60,000 young families move into the state of Connecticut in 2021 and 2022, I think in part, because our schools were more likely to be open. And our restaurants were more likely to be open. And our parks and beaches were open,” Lamont said.

“For the first time in a long time, we had tens of thousands of young families — not guys like me, young families — coming into the state of Connecticut and and we're working hard to keep that momentum going.”

Lamont’s administration is dedicating more attention to the establishment of Transit Oriented Developments, which place an emphasis on housing near bus and train hubs. It is also working on expanding access to housing and incentivising housing production.

The governor urged each municipality to comply with the mandated affordable housingplans required from each town by June 2022.

The state’s last data update, provided in March, shows more than 30 municipalities have yet to submit an affordable housing plan to the state Office of Policy and Management. There are no consequences for non-compliance.

“If you don't come up with a plan, and then there's (CT General Statute) 8-30g and other ways that developers can try to move things along. Hopefully our towns are going to come up with their own plan,” Lamont said.

“If you care about your town, you want it to be a town where the kids who grew up there, now a little bit older, can afford to live there, a place where the parents who raise their kids can afford to stay there. It's the right thing to do," Lamont said. "And we're giving you incentives to do it.”

Abigail is Connecticut Public's housing reporter, covering statewide housing developments and issues, with an emphasis on Fairfield County communities. She received her master's from Columbia University in 2020 and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2019. Abigail previously covered statewide transportation and the city of Norwalk for Hearst Connecticut Media. She loves all things Disney and cats.

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