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Bill aimed at creating affordable housing near transit hubs gains steam

A man with crutches walks off a bus at a transit hub operated by the Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority on August 17, 2023.
Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public
FILE, 2023: A "Work, Live, Ride" bill has been approved by the state's Planning and Developing Committee and will move to the General Assembly for a vote.

A move to boost affordable housing production in Connecticut near transportation hubs took another step forward at the state capitol.

The ‘Work, Live, Ride,’ bill would create financial incentives for cities and towns that create new affordable housing along main bus and rail stops. The legislation was approved Friday by the state’s Planning and Development Committee. It now moves to the General Assembly for a vote.

The bill’s approval represents a move forward in the state’s goal of increasing housing, according to Democratic Rep. Eleni Kavros-DeGraw, Planning and Development Committee co-chair.

“It would get us to actually building and I think that’s probably the biggest issue we have is that we continue to not actually build,” Kavros-DeGraw said. “While I utterly respect the parts of our state that are not interested in building, the parts of our state that are, we need to do everything we can to encourage that.”

“Work, Live, Ride” was proposed by housing advocacy nonprofit Desegregate Connecticut.

The bill is designed to increase affordable housing by establishing special districts to increase housing supply near transit, legalizing new, efficient housing choices like “missing middle” homes and designating monetary boosts to streamline affordable housing production.

The bulk of the bill was approved last year. It established the state’s Office of Responsible Growth with the goal of coordinating the state’s revitalization efforts.

This year’s version of the bill is focused on the community guidelines of transit oriented developments, increasing environmental protections and paving the way for more affordable housing development.

Republican Planning and Development Committee member Sen. Ryan Fazio was against the bill, with concerns over the use of monetary boosts for municipalities that opt-in to the program.

“I am concerned it’s almost as good as a mandate if that money is prioritized or deprioritized in a very assertive or aggressive way,” Fazio said.

Fazio would also like the bill to have more of an emphasis on “middle” housing, rather than solely on affordable housing.

“If this section, what qualifies of a transit oriented community was pared down, if it promoted maybe middle housing, but didn’t allow as of right up to nine units completely,” Fazio said on what changes would sway his vote.

Democrats say the bill will get construction moving, and the state is in need of more housing, in any form.

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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