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Stamford takes steps to increase city’s affordable housing options

Stamford mayoral candidate Caroline Simmons, during an October debate with opponent Bobby Valentine at The Waters Edge at Giovanni’s Restaurant in Darien on Oct. 21, 2021.
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public
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Connecticut Public
File, 2021: An executive order signed by Stamford mayor Caroline Simmons (above) aims to help Stamford's housing affordability.

Stamford Mayor Caroline Simmons has signed the city’s first ever executive order aimed at increasing housing affordability and reducing homelessness.

In 2022, Stamford completed a 12-month study and plan looking at the city’s affordable housing needs.

The impact of the city’s affordable housing lack is felt in various ways, Simmons said.

“We have 8,600 cost burdened homeowners. We've got approximately 12,000 individuals who are rent constrained, meaning they're struggling to afford their rent. We're seeing a rise in homelessness and evictions in our city. And we're seeing so much of our workforce who can't afford to live here and have to commute from out of town", Simmons said.

The housing difficulties extend into the workforce, as businesses struggle to hire employees since few people can afford to live and work in Stamford.

Fifty percent of renters in the city are unable to afford their rent payments, while 37% of homeowners have difficulty making home repairs and 20% have a hard time paying their mortgage, Anka Badurina, Executive Director of Building One Community said. Badurina also noted, 79% of the city’s Spanish speaking population also have difficulty paying their rent which in turn leads to a rise in homelessness.

The first aim of the Affordable Housing Executive Order is to create or renovate 1,000 affordable apartments by the year 2025.

Further down the line, the city plans to support the development of 2,443 new affordable homes by 2033. An emphasis will be placed on low-income, family-sized housing.

The number of units to be built was determined based on the recent statewide fair housing bill. The bill looked at how many new units each city or town would ideally need to create, to fulfill statewide goals.

Stamford’s land use team determined 2,443 would be the number of units needed to reach the recommended level of affordable housing.

“It's hard to pinpoint the exact number of units we need, but that was sort of an approximate number of new units that ideally, for our city, our size, for the workforce needs we have, that we would need to help reduce housing insecurity in our city,” Simmons said.

The goal is to increase homeownership and end homelessness. Simmons says homelessness spiked in the city within the last year as more people found living there to be unaffordable.

The order also prioritizes better housing for veterans, seniors, Stamford’s workforce and more pathways to homeownership.

The city’s land use department will be responsible for much of the plan’s implementation, which will also include a community engagement and education strategy for residents.

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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