HousingInCT2015 - A Tale of Housing Struggles in CT

 

David Fink is the Policy Director at the Partnership for Strong Communities. 

There is good reason why we at the Partnership for Strong Communities say housing is the foundation of opportunity: without a safe, secure home that is affordable and appropriate for a household’s needs, it is virtually impossible to successfully hold a job, manage a family, get an education and attend to healthcare and other important concerns.

HousingInCT2015, The Partnership’s annual snapshot of housing conditions in Connecticut, finds cracks in that foundation of opportunity. The 4-page report, issued on December 2 to federal, state and municipal policymakers, business leaders, and the general public, tells two stories: muscular efforts by state leaders and housing advocates have produced measurable progress, but nagging housing price and supply problems continue to burden hundreds of thousands of households across the state.

The findings of HousingInCT2015 are both significant and sober:

  • Gov. Malloy and the General Assembly are making nation-leading progress ending homelessness and building more affordable units. In 2015, Connecticut became the first state to end chronic homelessness among veterans, a major step on its path to ending all homelessness among veterans.
  • Meanwhile, the number of households experiencing homelessness continues to decline, and the state has supported initiatives to assist youth experiencing homelessness and connect families exiting homelessness to secure jobs. Because of work by Gov. Malloy and the General Assembly, Connecticut has thousands more affordable units today than five years ago.

But Connecticut housing costs continue to increase, remaining among the nation’s highest, and the supply available to working-class households continues to fall well short of demand, particularly in locations where high-resource schools, jobs and abundant services are available.

  • As a result, half the state's renters and more than a third of its homeowners remain "burdened" by their housing costs, paying more than 30% of their income.
  • And Connecticut's continuously rising wealth disparity, the nation's second highest, is driving safe, secure homes out of the reach of more and more households.

Still, those findings should not be allowed to overshadow the state’s notable successes.

The near and long-term future of housing affordability will be dominated by the likely demand for smaller, denser, more affordable homes that are close to services, walkable to town center and near available mass transit. Demography is not the only factor that shapes the market. But the needs of aging Baby Boomers and their children, the Millennials, for this type of housing will likely have a decades-long impact on the state’s housing needs. Without new supply, that heightened demand will drive up the cost of existing housing, making it even more unaffordable for those at the lower end of the income spectrum.

The future will also be impacted by several other factors: the state’s ability to subsidize housing creation for low- and moderate-income residents, the ability of developers to respond to the new housing market, and the ability of residents and municipal leaders to develop the capacity and consensus to plan, zone and build to meet those needs.

At the end of the day, the story of Housing in Connecticut in 2015 is one of commitment, dedication, progress and momentum fueled by the Department of Housing, CHFA and their partners in government and the private and non-profit sectors.  

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