2020 Legislative Agenda
To end homelessness, create housing opportunity, and build strong communities in Connecticut.
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For too many people in Connecticut, the prospect of a safe, stable, and affordable home is out of reach. Thousands of people experience homelessness every day, one in four renters spends over half of their income on housing. These high costs are hurting individuals and communities across the state.
We can do better. The Partnership envisions a state with strong, vibrant communities where all people can find safe, affordable homes with access to opportunities, and where being without a home, even briefly, is the rare exception. And we have a track record of success: Spurred by demands from housing advocates, the state of Connecticut has made targeted investments that have decreased homelessness by over 25% since 2007, and built thousands of new rental-assisted homes.
We need bold, sustained investment to maintain this progress, and to ensure that everyone in our state has a safe, affordable home. The Partnership for Strong Communities is proposing these items for the 2020 legislative session:
Continue Necessary Strategic Capital Investments in Affordable Housing
Authorize $100 million each year for the Affordable Housing FLEX Fund, and $50 million each year for the state Housing Trust Fund.
Helping rent-burdened and homeless families obtain permanent, affordable housing as quickly as possible is critical to stabilization of families and the economic growth of the state. The economic benefits of affordable housing development are clear. Building affordable homes generates millions of dollars in new economic activity, creates jobs, and broadens the state’s tax base. We must continue making critical capital investments in affordable housing to expand housing choices for low and moderate income households across Connecticut, preserve existing affordable rental homes at risk of loss, and support the state’s economy.
In the next five years, 4,843 publicly supported rental homes in Connecticut are set to have their rent restrictions expire. At least 2,230 units of public housing are in need of immediate investment due to their poor condition.
Preserve Vital Homeless System Resources
Connecticut has made crucial investments into ending homelessness, including support for homeless youth and coordinated services with mental health & addiction programs. These line items, including $85.8M on DOH's Housing/Homeless Services line, $2.3M on the DOH Homeless Youth line, and $23M on the DMHAS Housing Supports and Services line, must be preserved in the upcoming session.
In addition, new targeted investments (see below) will help Connecticut's service system to bring more people out of homelessness and into stable housing. These crucial investments will help with housing assistance, prevention and diversion from homelessness, and identifying all unsheltered individuals and families.
Make New Targeted Investments in Key Housing and Services Lines to End Homelessness by 2023
- Funding for Housing Stabilization at DOH’s Housing/Homeless Services Line at $1.47M: This funding will enhance our state’s capacity to quickly resolve episodes of homelessness by decreasing the number of individuals and youth requiring shelter through the use of flexible funds for shelter diversion and rapid exit.
- Rental Assistance at $1M at DOH’s Housing/Homeless Services Line to provide adequate, safe, and stable housing for highly vulnerable people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness.
- Individualized services at $1M at DMHAS’ Housing Supports and Services Line to pair support services with the rental assistance and improve housing stability, income and employment, health and wellness issues, and enhance connections to community resources.
- Enhance outreach services at $375,000 at DMHAS’ Housing Supports and Services Line to better identify individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness.
Stabilize Funding for the Coordinated Access Networks (CANs):
The Coordinated Access Networks (CANs) provide streamlined access to the homeless services system at the regional level. 2-1-1 serves as the statewide single point of entry to the CANs. In recent years, CAN funding has been provided at the discretion of the Department of Housing from their Community Investment Account (CIA). The state should continue to support this critical network by providing $2.3 million annually to the Department of Housing’s Housing/Homeless Services line.
Reorganize the Zoning Enabling Act and Promote Housing Planning
Reorganize CGS Section 8-2, the statute that grants land use authorities to local governments, to make it more easily readable to land use commissions and the general public. Require municipalities comply with the existing law’s affordable housing planning requirement by January 1, 2022 and require a working group convene to study municipal zoning and affordable housing planning requirements related to housing choice. The study would include recommendations concerning guidelines for municipal compliance, how compliance should be determined, and possible incentives for such compliance.
Amend State Statutes to Remove Harmful Barriers for Youth and Young Adults Experiencing Homelessness to Access Identity Documents
Lack of access to identity documents including associated fees, such as birth certificates and state issued ID’s, are a significant barrier for youth and young adults who are experiencing homelessness and housing instability. The result is that many young people are unable to work or participate in workforce development programs, unable to access, or experience delays accessing, Job Corps and housing, and have difficulties in accessing supports such as mental health, benefits, or athletic activities.
Develop Training on Housing Issues for Local Planning & Zoning Commissions
Planning & Zoning commissions make important land use decisions that affect the function of their communities for many years. Connecticut does not offer a training curriculum, or require training, for commissioners. In order to ensure commissioners are provided with the educational resources needed to make important land use decisions, we must develop and offer a training curriculum to commissioners. By January 1, 2022, municipalities should require all new commissioners meet the minimum standard available through the state training curriculum of four hours of training per year, two of which must relate to housing.
The Partnership for Strong Communities staffs and manages two statewide campaigns: The Reaching Home Campaign to end homelessness and the HOMEConnecticut Campaign to expand housing affordability in Connecticut.