2024 Legislative Re-Cap: Housing Progress and Opportunities

The 2024 legislative session ended on May 8th. While the Connecticut General Assembly passed some incremental housing measures, including several that we supported, other crucial and impactful policies to allow for the homes that people, our communities, and the state need to thrive were left unaddressed.

Over 100,000 Connecticut families that rent their homes are forced to spend more than half their income on their housing costs. Across our state, many of our rental homes are very old and sometimes unlivable. The shortage of homes continues to drive increased rents, and low-income tenants are bearing the brunt.

This session we were honored to collaborate with other advocates and activists who hold the vision that everyone in Connecticut should have a safe, stable home, that is affordable to them, in an equitable community of their choice. A notable example of the power of unified advocacy were the tenant leaders of the Just Cause Coalition. Those directly experiencing the effects of our housing challenges are the closest to true solutions.  

We’re better when we work together.

We remain steadfast in our work to improve housing affordability for Connecticut’s families. Our housing crisis will continue to persist without adequate investments in rental assistance and continued investment to increase the supply of affordable homes in our state. Our housing crisis will persist without comprehensive reforms to where and how housing is built in Connecticut, and equitable investment in our lowest income families. Our housing crisis will persist until we address the underlying issues of our state’s exclusionary land use systems and expand assistance and protections for people who rent their homes.

We will persist. We will work alongside you, our advocacy partners, our legislative champions, and our communities to re-shape our policies to support the safe, stable, affordable homes we need.

In partnership,

The team at the Partnership for Strong Communities


 

Summary of Housing Bills

The following housing related bills were passed by the legislature and now wait for Governor Lamont’s signature:

H.B. 5474 – AN ACT REQUIRING MUNICIPAL REPORTS CONCERNING RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION APPROVAL TO THE OFFICE OF RESPONSIBLE GROWTH. 

This bill became the vehicle to combine several bills that passed out of the Housing Committee and includes several changes to housing development, rental housing, and zoning requirements. After a multi-hour debate in the Senate on the last day of the session, it was passed with a bipartisan vote. Some key aspects:

  1. Requires the Department of Community and Economic Development (DECD) to send municipalities an annual questionnaire on residential permit applications. This bill was a key priority for the Partnership. Increasing the transparency and accountability for local planning and zoning commissions is an important step in ensuring municipalities are providing adequate housing for their region. The measure can be strengthened in the future to make municipal responses to the questionnaire mandatory.
  2. Requires the Department of Housing to expand reporting on the states’ Rental Assistance Program (RAP) to better measure program demand and utilization. This bill was a key priority for the Partnership.
  3. Requires the Majority Leader’s Roundtable on Affordable Housing to study municipal design review processes required for residential developments and report its findings and recommendations to the legislature.  
  4. Requires municipalities to allow vacant nursing homes to be converted to multifamily housing if they comply with zoning regulations and do not substantially impact public health and safety. 
  5. Requires the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) to prioritize any DOH plans to use state surplus property for low- and moderate-income housing.
  6. Requires municipalities to assess properties used for housing only low- and moderate income households based on the capitalized value of net rental income. This would likely result in lower property tax for 100% affordable housing. 
  7. Requires DOH, when setting maximum rents for RAP, to use the fair market rent figure under the federal Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program if it is higher than RAP’s maximum allowable rent for the housing unit.
  8. Authorizes municipalities to use tax increment district funds to renovate certain 8-30g deed-restricted affordable housing in exchange for the owner renewing the development’s affordability restrictions. 
  9. Requires landlords to provide tenants with at least 45 days written notice of proposed rent increases. 
  10. Establishes a task force to study the state’s implementation of the federal HCV program. 

Two components of H.B. 5474 were opposed by Partnership for Strong Communities:

      • Awards municipalities points towards a moratorium from the Section 8-30g appeals procedure for each middle housing dwelling unit (e.g. duplex, triplex) that is built if they have adopted zoning regulations allowing as-of-right middle housing developments. Partnership opposed this provision as it rewards towns with permitting moratorium points for housing that is not restricted to low- or moderate-income households. 

      • Specifies that eligible units completed before a municipality’s moratorium from Section 8-30g has begun, but that were not counted toward establishing its moratorium eligibility, may be counted toward qualifying for a subsequent moratorium. The way DOH counts these units for moratorium points has been disputed by New Canaan. This language would clarify the law in future moratorium applications.  

    H.B. 5523 – AN ACT CONCERNING ALLOCATIONS OF FEDERAL AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT FUNDS AND PROVISIONS RELATED TO GENERAL GOVERNMENT, HUMAN SERVICES, EDUCATION AND THE BIENNIUM ENDING JUNE 30, 2025 

    The bill assigns $370 million in expiring federal pandemic grants to boost spending for higher education, social services, mental health, childcare and town aid for FY 2025. In addition, there are a few additional homelessness related allocations.

    Homeless Services are allocated an additional $3.5 million in ARPA funds for FY 2025. The CT CAN End Homelessness initiative had asked the legislature to invest $20 Million to stabilize and strengthen Connecticut’s Homeless Response System. 

    Partnership for Strong Communities had asked that budget adjustments include an increased investment in the state funded Rental Assistance Program (RAP) of $16 million – $8 million to keep pace with rent increases and maintain the number of families served by RAP and $8 million to expand rental assistance and provide stable homes to 650 more low-income families. The bill included no additional allocation to RAP. 

    Additional allocations of ARPA funds for FY 2025 are made to the following housing and homelessness uses: 

        • $170,000 to Aging Homelessness Pilot – South Park Shelter  

        • $154,320 to Parsonage Cottage Roof  

        • $500,000 to 50 Nye Road Improvements  

        • $1,000,000 for Homelessness (It is unclear currently what the allocation is earmarked for.)  

        • $150,000 to Columbus House Shelter  

        • $150,000 to New Reach/Life Haven Shelter for Women and Children

      The Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management is permitted to reallocate any ARPA funds that remain unspent beginning January 1, 2025. 

      The bill also requires the Connecticut Municipal Redevelopment Authority (MRDA) to provide members, by request, technical assistance on developing project criteria and regulations to substantially increase housing production. 

      H.B. 5524 – AN ACT AUTHORIZING AND ADJUSTING BONDS OF THE STATE AND CONCERNING PROVISIONS RELATED TO STATE AND MUNICIPAL TAX ADMINISTRATION, GENERAL GOVERNMENT AND SCHOOL BUILDING PROJECTS.

      Bond authorizations adopted in the FY2024/FY2025 biennial budget for FY 2025 remain unchanged. $100 million is authorized for the Affordable Housing (FLEX) Program and $200 million for the Housing Trust Fund. This bill was a key priority for the Partnership. 

      New Housing-Related Bond Authorizations for FY 2025 

          • OPM – Transit-oriented development and predevelopment activities – $2,000,000 

          • DOH- Grants to nonprofits for capital improvements to facilities used to house or serve the homeless – $15,000,000  

          • Funded improvements may include renovation, rehabilitation, architectural, engineering, and related cost, but they exclude land and building acquisitions, demolitions, and purchases and capital improvements to permanent supportive housing. DOH must set the program’s eligibility criteria, application forms, and deadlines by October 1, 2024. 

          •  Department of Aging and Disability Services- Grants for aging in place – $1,000,000 

        Cancellations and Changes in Current Bond Authorizations for FY 2025 

            • DOH – $10,420,007 in existing authorizations are cancelled for the Homelessness Prevention and Response Fund authorization. 

            • OPM – $2 million in existing authorizations for Responsible Growth Incentive Fund are cancelled. 

            • DDS – $15 million in authorizations for supportive housing for people with intellectual or other developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder are transferred from DDS to DOH. 

          DOH Report on Bond-Funded Housing Programs  

          Requires DOH to report biannually to the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee information on the use of bond funds the department received for the Housing Trust Fund and housing development and rehabilitation under the FY2024/FY2025 bond act.   

          Housing Environmental Improvement Loan And Grant Fund And Retrofit Pilot Program 

          Expands DEEP’s multi-family housing retrofit pilot program by allowing it to offer grants in addition to loans and the department to contract with quasi-public agencies to administer the fund that finances the program. The bill removes the eligibility requirement that dwellings be renter-occupied and instead extends eligibility to owners of residential dwelling units as defined in state law.  

          State Building Code And Fire Safety Code Amendments 

          Requires the next adopted version of the State Building Code and the Fire Safety Code to include amendments that allow additional residential homes to be served by a single exit stairway and encourage construction of safe three- or four-unit residential buildings under similar requirements for certain one- and two-unit residential buildings; requires those adopting State Building Code amendments to consider the housing shortage. 

          “Additionally, the bill requires the state building inspector, the Codes and Standards Committee, and DAS commissioner, when adopting State Building Code amendments, to consider that the state’s housing shortage compromises the safety of residents who cannot afford a safe home. The amendments must also encourage producing buildings that include safe housing that can be built at a reasonable cost.” 

          Concentrated Poverty Program 

          Creates a pilot program to reduce the levels of concentrated poverty in the state by developing and implementing a 10-year plan for a participating “concentrated poverty census tracts.” $50 million in bond funds are available for eligible projects. 

          Creates the Office of Neighborhood Investment and Community Engagement within the Department of Economic and Community Development to oversee the plan’s implementation and monitor the state’s progress in reducing concentrated poverty.  

          Gives projects included in the plan priority for specified state grants and funding programs. Eligible projects include capital projects, workforce development programs, housing development, community and neighborhood improvements, and education initiatives to help residents in meeting and exceeding the educational metrics described above. 

          Historic Homes Rehabilitation Tax Credit 

          This bill was a fix for changes enacted last year that limited the use of the tax credit. The bill restores taxpayers’ ability to claim the historic homes rehabilitation tax credit against certain business taxes in the 2024 tax year and all following years. Allows all taxpayers to apply credits issued after January 1, 2024, against the unrelated business income tax. 

          Visit our website to find our 2024 Legislative Priorities, fact sheets, and written testimony on housing bills raised this legislative session. 

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