Ashna Gupta

Following a tightly contested gubernatorial race, Governor-elect Ned Lamont SOM ’80 will be sworn into office on Jan. 7. With his election victory now set in stone, Lamont’s housing policies are receiving attention from local officials and community leaders in the state.

On the campaign trail, Lamont promised to promote small businesses in Connecticut and to stimulate the state’s economy. He stressed the importance of homeownership to the financial stability of communities in the middle class.

“Every Connecticut resident deserves a safe home that doesn’t break the bank,” reads Lamont’s platform. “If we can build the range of housing options our residents and employers need, they will stay in Connecticut, participate in the life of our communities, contribute to our tax base, and support local businesses and shops.”

Lamont has proposed property tax cuts for working- and middle-class families, particularly those in high-tax neighborhoods. He has also proposed alleviating homelessness by continuing Connecticut’s “housing first” policy, which provides permanent housing for homeless residents.

New Haven has struggled in recent years with providing affordable housing. At the New Haven Affordable Housing Task Force’s October meeting, Housing Authority of New Haven Executive Director Karen DuBois-Walton ’89 said that 25,062 households are rent-burdened — meaning that the residents spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

“We see this investment in affordable housing [in the region] as an equity issue in a range of ways,” DuBois-Walton said at the October meeting. “There is clearly a housing crisis in this community.”

According to Ward 8 Alder Aaron Greenberg GRD ’18, Lamont will prove to be an advocate for affordable housing developments throughout New Haven and the state.

“We look forward to working with his administration to promote affordable housing developments,” said Greenberg. “From talking with him, I know he recognizes that the future of this state depends on the health of urban areas like New Haven.”

New Haven Mayor Toni Harp’s 2018-19 budget, which passed in May, included an 11 percent property tax increase.

Earlier this year, the Board of Alders instituted an Affordable Housing Task Force in an attempt to collect information and public testimony and to suggest policy ideas to alleviate New Haven residents from the burden of excessive housing prices.

The task force, which is chaired by Greenberg, meets at City Hall Thursday night at 6 p.m. and is collecting information regarding affordable housing through guest presentations and public testimonies. The task force plans to use this information to suggest potential housing legislation to the Board of Alders.

Elsewhere in the state, Lamont has stressed the benefits of increased housing development and home ownership.

Lamont said in his campaign platform that southeast Connecticut is expected to have 23,000 new households by 2025 — with only an estimated loss of 18,000 households in that time. According to Lamont, a wide range of housing options is vital, as an increased number of residents is necessary to drive the economy forward and to raise tax revenues. He noted that for every 100 new apartment units, 161 jobs are created, leading to $11.7 million in local income and $2.2 million in government tax revenue.

“Data on current housing conditions in southeastern Connecticut shows an unmet need for lower-cost and rental housing,” the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments housing needs report stated. “Affordability challenges have increased for both owners and renters over the last fifteen years, with the share of renters who are cost-burdened growing from 32% in 2000 to 48% in 2015.”

While Lamont provided a detailed plan regarding housing throughout his campaign, Republican candidate Bob Stefanowski’s campaign did not focus on the issue.

Lamont narrowly defeated Republican candidate Bob Stefanowski by a margin of 687,949 votes to 647,772 votes. Although Connecticut historically votes Democrat, current Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy won the 2014 gubernatorial election by only 30,000 votes, or two percent.

Nick Tabio | nick.tabio@yale.edu