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Affordable housing boost could ease CT eviction crisis, report says

Members of Unidad Latina en Accion stream in and out of the home of Juana Valle and her family as they move from their apartment of 10 years to another in New Haven, Connecticut, January 30, 2023 after being evicted.
Joe Amon
/
Connecticut Public
Members of Unidad Latina en Accion stream in and out of the home of Juana Valle and her family as they move from their apartment of 10 years to another in New Haven, Connecticut January 30, 2023 after being evicted.

The number of cost-burdened households in Connecticut exceeds the national average, according to a new study by the nonprofit Connecticut Voices for Children, which assessed the state’s eviction crisis, particularly as it impacts low-income families.

Connecticut households are more likely to be burdened by housing costs than households in the United States as a whole, according to study co-author Dr. Samaila Adelaiye.

About 35% of Connecticut households are burdened by housing costs, compared to about 32% nationally, according to the report.

“Many Connecticut renters struggle with housing costs. High rent, relative to income, increases the likelihood of eviction and evictions adversely impact families and children,” Adelaiye said.

The report says the relationship between rents that are going up and wages that are staying the same is one of many driving factors in Connecticut's housing crisis. The increase in average rent cost in Connecticut is outpacing the growth in household income.

Black and Latino households are more likely to be behind on rent and fear eviction than white families, according to the study.

The average annual earnings for white Connecticut residents from 2016 to 2020 was about $51,000. That's compared to $29,000 for Latino and $32,000 for Black residents during the same time frame, according to U.S. Census data.

“Many Connecticut renters struggle with housing costs. High rent relative to income increases the likelihood of eviction. Evictions, adversely impact families and children as part of our research," Adelaiye said.

A household is deemed "cost burdened" when it spends more than 30% of its income on rent and utilities, and "severely cost burdened" when it spends more than 50% of its income on those expenses. And 73% of extremely low-income renter households are severely cost burdened.

The term "low income" is directed towards people who earn 51% to 80% of the area’s median income. Those who are considered "extremely low income" earn 0% to 30% of the area’s median income.

In Connecticut, 81% of extremely low-income residents are cost burdened and 68% are severely cost burdened, according to a National Low Income Housing Coalition study.

Another key issue in Connecticut’s housing crisis is a lack of housing supply, Adelaiye said.

“The numbers of housing permits issued annually in Connecticut have decreased over the past few decades,” Adelaiye said. “Every year since 2008 Connecticut has had fewer annual housing permits issued than any of the years before 2008.”

The authors of the study believe bolstering affordable housing development across the state may help alleviate the eviction crisis.

They outlined several policy recommendations which include discretionary grants for affordable housing development funded by an "affordable housing tax." They also suggested the state General Assembly create more incentives to encourage the construction of mixed-income housing in areas close to public transit. That recommendation was proposed in the past legislative session.

The Connecticut Voices for Children study, which began in fall 2021, was released in two parts, Voices for Children Executive Director Emily Byrne said. The first section, focusing on policy options for short-term reform, was released in March. The second part, about long-term options, became available earlier this week.

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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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