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Amid housing shortage, more than 30 CT towns without state-mandated affordable housing plans

The second affordable housing project in the country to use the “mass timber” construction system is a 69-unit affordable housing project at 340 Dixwell Avenue in New Haven (above).
Abigail Brone
/
Connecticut Public
A contractor works inside a 69-unit affordable housing project in New Haven.

State leaders are encouraging municipalities across the state to submit their affordable housing plans amid Connecticut’s housing crisis.

Department of Housing (DOH) Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno said of the state’s 169 municipalities, more than 30 have yet to submit their plans to increase and maintain options for affordable housing.

At an event discussing additional affordable housing units in Newington Wednesday, which will bring the town closer to the state-mandated 10% affordable housing minimum, Mosquera-Bruno addressed the housing need statewide.

“We have more than 130 towns and, I'm very optimistic that towns do want to do the right thing,” Mosquera-Bruno said. “We have several projects in small municipalities and we have other towns that, after they’ve completed their housing plans, are looking for our support — technical assistance to implement those plans.”

Thirty-four towns haven’t submitted affordable housing plans, which were due to the state’s Office of Policy and Management (OPM), last June. The affordable housing plan data supplied by OPM was last updated in March.

Of the 34 towns without submitted plans, many are small municipalities with populations of 12,000 residents or less, including Ashford, Hartland and Scotland, all with populations of less than 5,000 people.

Norwalk, Bridgeport and New Britain are among some of the state’s largest cities that have not submitted plans.

“Some of them have asked for extensions,” Mosquera-Bruno said. “The message has been, ‘We want to do something that is meaningful,’ and they are looking at different opportunities within their towns. So, that's where we are right now. I haven't looked at how many this past week, because they have been on a rolling basis submitting those plans.”

The plans submitted and reviewed by OPM and DOH thus far have been approved. Mosquera-Bruno said she has been the visiting different regions to emphasize the plans’ importance.

“I'm visiting towns, I'm visiting cities, talking to the mayors and making sure that they know that we do have technical assistance, that we do have resources to help them to start projects,” Mosquera-Bruno said.

“Some have done a great job. They really made it meaningful. We provided about $1.8 million in technical assistance, as well as the Regional Plan Association created its template, so that they can do something that is not going to be on a shelf, but it's going to be implemented.”

Gov. Ned Lamont urged municipalities lagging behind in the affordable housing process to fulfill their residents’ needs, or developers will begin finding other ways around restrictive housing regulations in place.

“What the towns I talked to say is, ‘We want more housing. We want more affordable housing. Don't tell us how to do it. We're gonna do it ourselves.’ That's why I say let's set up, show us your plan,” Lamont said.

“I want to be able to build expeditiously, take some of the risk off the table, do it faster. That's what a lot of these plans mean as well. But if there are a few towns that say, ‘We refuse to participate in the plan,’ like that, there is 8-30g as a backdrop.”

The Affordable Housing Land Use Appeals Procedure,was enacted in 1989 as a way to facilitate the construction of affordable housing, particularly in communities that did not already have a large supply of affordable units.

It allows developers, in certain instances, to override local zoning in municipalities where less than 10% of the housing units meet the statute’s definition of affordable.

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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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