[Excerpt from Hartford Courant article by Michael Hamad, February 5, 2021]
Connecticut is failing to provide affordable housing for essential workers, and new public investment is needed, according to a report prepared for two state agencies.
And without better regional planning, the prioritization of housing based on need and “proactive” investment, Connecticut’s housing problems will surely get worse, the study’s authors predict.
The $500,000 report shows that Connecticut workers making 50% to 81% of county median income — janitors, administrative assistants, carpenters and others — can afford to live in many of the state’s nearly 2.2 million housing units. But cashiers, child care workers and many of the state’s unemployed laborers who fall in the low-income (31% to 50% of county median income) and very low-income (30% or less of county median income) categories struggle to find affordable housing statewide.
“Housing Connecticut’s Future: Meeting the State’s Affordable and Accessible Housing Needs,” released Thursday and commissioned by the Department of Housing and the Department of Social Services, also shows huge disparities in home-ownership between racial and ethnic groups.
While two-thirds of all Connecticut households own their homes, only 57% of Asians, 40% of Native Americans, 39% of Blacks and 34% of Latinos fall into that category — compared with 76% of whites. [....]
At a time when affordable housing in small, wealthy Connecticut towns remains a hot-button issue across the state and in the General Assembly — DesegregateCT, a coalition of nonprofits, recently launched an interactive map that shows a striking lack of available zoning for multifamily housing — the report and database provide more tools for researchers, lawmakers and advocates to enter the fray.
There are 86,068 more households that fall in the very low-income category than there are housing units they can afford, the study suggests. None of Connecticut’s eight counties has enough affordable housing units to meet demand; the largest gaps are found in Fairfield, Hartford and New Haven counties.
And while the total number of very low-income households is expected to decline over the next two decades, the decrease will not be significant enough.
Connecticut also has a problem with accessible housing for people with disabilities. The supply of supportive housing doesn’t meet the demands of the roughly 22% of households that include at least one person with a disability; as the population ages, the need will grow considerably.
Project partners include Fairfield County’s Center for Housing Opportunity, the Urban Institute, the Corporation for Supportive Housing, Source Development Hub and DataHaven. [....]