Leadership in Newtown: Promoting Economic Growth & Meeting Residents’ Future Needs

 

Although mixed-income housing is increasingly beneficial to towns, regions and residents, it is often difficult to develop. Newtown has identified five locations that the community has agreed upon, and approved projects to increase the range of housing options available and enable families to improve the quality of their lives.

But it didn’t happen by accident. Pat Llodra, the First Selectman of Newtown, was thoughtful, incremental and had a plan. Here, she offers insights on why she undertook the difficult quest to expand the array of housing options in her town and how she was able to build support among community leaders and residents.      

The Spark: A Close Look at Demographics and The Future

 

Llodra believes “not in building for today, but building for tomorrow.” 
 

The year was 2007. She recognized her town was aging, and that there was the need for denser housing options walkable to services and shopping in several locations in Newtown. The population and growth trends were unmistakable: they suggested the increasing demand for multifamily developments with smaller, affordable rental units. 

But the projections would require an enormous change:  92% of the housing stock in Newtown was comprised of single family homes. Housing was also expensive; half of the renters and 38% of homeowners in Newtown were spending 30% or more of their income on housing. The Median Home Value in Newtown is $424,600 and the Median Gross Rent is $1,229. Like many other towns in Connecticut, Newtown’s population was aging; by 2025, there would be a projected 36% decline in school-aged population and a 51% increase in 65+ population. And the demand for more affordable multifamily and mixed-income housing would inevitably increase as smaller spaces and affordability remained primary concerns for both (a) millennials facing the nation’s 6th highest average higher education debt and (b) Baby Boomers entering retirement, many of them needing to sell their homes to tap the equity in them because they had saved too little for retirement.    

A Deeper Look Inside Newtown

Next steps - Learn more about planned housing development in Newtown: