State increases housing permit issuance

In a sign of a housing market recovering from the 2008 financial crisis, the state of Connecticut issued 359 new building permits in Aug., up 55 percent from the same period last year.

The data, compiled by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, indicates greater interest in building new homes than has been seen in the past few years. Betwenn Jan. and Aug. 2012, 2,451 permits were issued — up 41 percent over the same time period in 2011. In the first eight months of 2009, the state issued only 2,097 permits, while in 2004, the earliest year for which data are available, the state issued 6,570 permits.

Many of the permits issued are concentrated in areas where there is an excess of land to build new properties, such as Bridgeport and Milford, which issued 114 and 96 permits between Jan. and Aug. 2012, respectively. But in New Haven, a city that was built up in the post-war years, there is not much room for construction of new homes, said City Hall spokesperson Elizabeth Benton ’04. Only 13 new building permits were issued in the Elm City from Jan. to Aug. of this year, according to the DECD data.

Other indicators paint a mixed picture of the housing market in New Haven. The city has one of the lowest residential vacancy rates in the nation. According to Drew Morrison ’14 , president of New Haven Action, this low rate can partially be attributed to the high number of college students in the city and the relatively high foreclosure rate, as families whose homes are foreclosed typically relocate to live in apartment buildings.

But Morrison said the low vacancy rate also decreases the supply of homes available for those seeking affordable housing. Though Governor Dannel Malloy made a commitment in his latest budget to spend $300 million over the next 10 years on affordable housing projects, 2,000 people are still on a waiting list to move into affordable housing units, Morrison said.

Additionally, according to 2011 city property valuations that assessed the fair market value of homes in New Haven, a majority of neighborhoods saw a slight decrease in their homes’ market value since 2006, the last time the study was conducted, while wealthier neighborhoods like East Rock and Westville saw the value of their homes go up as much as 56 percent. Overall, 54 percent of New Haven residents saw the value of their homes decrease.

According to real estate research firm Reis Inc., in Jan. 2009, New Haven had the nation’s lowest apartment vacancy rate at 2.1 percent.

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