The Partnership for Strong Communities provides many resources to towns and cities regarding the benefits of increasing affordable housing options in their communities. We have pulled together many of these resources to make it easier for communities to find and use them.
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Frequently Asked Questions:
How have towns overcome opposition to affordable and mixed-income housing?
Opposition can be difficult to overcome. While towns approach this effort in a variety of ways, here are a few methods they have used to engage the community:
- Recognizing they may need a wider array of housing options than they currently have (e.g., they realize, like many towns, that they have too many single-family homes and not enough apartments and town houses), they apply for a technical assistance grant through the Department of Housing’s Housing for Economic Growth Program to study their housing needs and look at potential sites.
- They begin a town-wide conversation about those needs, using a variety of engagement tools, such as questionnaires/surveys, public meetings, or videos of town leaders discussing the issues.
- They enlist municipal and community leaders and respected town institutions, such as large congregations, philanthropic organizations and community foundations, fraternal organizations, and others to engage residents in low-key, non-committal educational sessions about what could be built, where the best locations might be, and what impact the new homes would have on the town.
How can affordable and mixed-income housing benefit my town?
From the young creative web designer who will start a business to a young musician who'll open a club to a kindergarten teacher who wants to stay after school to help her students to the Boomers who want to downsize in their hometown to the adult children who want to return to it, smaller, denser, more affordable homes can make a town more vital and provide the people and energy that improve community life.
Of late, a dollars-and-sense reason has also emerged: most towns, filled with mostly single-family homes, have seen sales prices and real property grand lists flatten or fall. Smaller, denser and more affordable homes - especially if they are walkable to town center or transit – can be one way to draw new young professionals and families to town, seeding a future group of potential buyers for the single-family homes that will continue to become available over the next decades. That will also allow police, firefighters, teachers and others to live in the towns they serve, an undeniable benefit. Strong communities need all sorts of people and all sorts of people need all sorts of housing.
For more on this, be sure to check out our resources on Housing Market and Need.
Why is there so much new demand for smaller, denser, more affordable homes?
The demand is intense across the state, often in towns that have never seen it before, because of strong demographic and economic forces that have aligned for the first time. Baby Boomers seeking to retire and downsize are looking for new, smaller and more affordable units in the town center of the municipalities they’ve been living in for the last several decades. They want to stay close to family, friends, their churches and doctors. Research indicates they often have insufficient savings for retirement and so need to sell their homes to tap the equity.
Similarly, their children – the Millennials – often want the same type of affordable multifamily unit after college and graduate school. They are often saddled with education debt – Connecticut's average debt is approximately $30,000 – and are less able or interested in buying a home because of that and/or because their lifestyles don’t warrant it.
A third reason for the demand is simply a shortage of multifamily housing across the state: more than 70% of the housing stock is single-family in two-thirds of Connecticut’s towns.