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With a $22 million commitment to affordable housing, Connecticut will now put its plans to resolve the state’s affordable housing crisis into action.
Gov. Dannel Malloy and the state Department of Housing announced Nov. 20 that nearly $22 million in state funding will be used to build or renovate more than 700 units of affordable housing in Hartford, New Haven and Waterbury. $10 million of those funds will be allocated to developing 276 units in New Haven’s Farnam Courts, Hill-to-Downtown, Ruoppolo Manor and Fairmont Heights communities.
Edward Mattison LAW ’68, chair of the City Plan Commission, said this funding will be beneficial in mitigating New Haven’s current lack of affordable housing.
“If you look at how many families are in our family shelters and on the waiting list for them, you will see how dire the need is for affordable housing in New Haven,” Mattison said in an interview with the News.
The Department of Housing awarded the funding as part of the Competitive Housing Assistance for Multifamily Properties, an affordable housing initiative. According to a November press release from the governor’s office, CHAMP provides developers and owners of multifamily affordable housing with money to create more affordable units in their developments. This form of financial support is designed to incentivize developers to “create more opportunities for housing in diverse communities, while fostering inclusivity and expanding the state’s much-needed affordable and multifamily housing stock,” according to Governor Malloy’s press release.
Mattison is a member of the city’s Affordable Housing Task Force, which was established in March by the Board of Alders to investigate and provide policy recommendations addressing New Haven’s lack of affordable housing. The task force came under fire in October when a coalition of local activists demanded that the task force become more transparent, inclusive and effective in a demonstration outside City Hall.
Mattison said that this announcement of funding is extremely important for New Haven and other cities in Connecticut because the federal government has proven unreliable in its commitment to provide low-income housing.
“The federal government is continuing to pay for the promises that they have made in the past, but there aren’t any new ones,” he said. “That means that although we’re not losing subsidized housing, we’re not increasing it all. So, the state wisely decided to step in and say that it would provide funds for additional affordable housing.”
According to a statement made on the Governor’s office’s Facebook page, since 2011, the Department of Housing and the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority have built, rehabilitated or committed funding for nearly 25,000 units of housing — 22,000 of which are affordable for low and moderate income individuals and families.
These housing units are the actualization of a nearly $1.5 billion state investment, which has been matched by $2.5 billion from other financial sources, including the private sector, according to Malloy’s 2011 announcement of the funding.
“For nearly three decades, Connecticut made almost no attempt to encourage the development of affordable and multifamily housing in our state,” Malloy said in the Nov. 20 press release. “These new awards represent our administration’s ongoing commitment to improving Connecticut’s housing infrastructure and will play an important role in attracting new talent to our workforce, incentivizing our young people to stay in Connecticut and encouraging business growth.”
Affordable housing issues have featured prominently in the New Haven political dialogue in recent years. According to data obtained by the Partnership for Strong Communities in February, New Haven’s median annual household income is $37,192, almost half the state’s median of $70,331.
In an October Affordable Housing Task Force meeting, New Haven Housing Authority Executive Director Karen DuBois-Walton ’89 cited that 41 percent of New Haven’s households are housing burdened –— meaning that the household spends 30 percent of its income on housing.
At the meeting, DuBois-Walton stressed that increased affordable housing could promote social justice and racial integration.
“We see an investment in affordable housing [in the region] as an equity issue in a range of ways,” DuBois-Walton said at an Affordable Housing Task Force meeting in October. “There is clearly a housing crisis in this community, and segregation is also a crisis.”
The plan’s $10 million commitment to New Haven will be spread throughout the city.
In the Farnam Courts communities, the DOH is providing a loan of $3.8 million to the Glendower Group, Inc., a subsidiary of the New Haven Housing Authority, to assist in the new construction of four buildings on a currently vacant site, building an additional 36 affordable housing units.
In the Hill-to-Downtown community on 49 Prince St., the DOH is providing a loan of $2.7 million to RMS Downtown South-Hill North Development Company, LLC to renovate the former Welch Annex School into 30 affordable units. The project is part of the Hill-to-Downtown Planning Initiative, a long-term action plan to increase development in the area between Union Station and Yale-New Haven Hospital.
The Department of Housing is allocating $3.7 million to rehabilitate housing units in the Ruoppolo Manor and Fairmont Heights communities. The loan, which will be given by Glendower Group, Inc., an affiliate of the Housing Authority of New Haven, will be used to renovate three buildings that hold 201 affordable housing units. According to Malloy’s press release, the development will serve senior and disabled resident households with incomes at 30 percent, 50 percent and 80 percent of area-median income.
Ward 1 Alder Hacibey Catalbasoglu ’19 said the city has been working to find solutions to the affordable housing crisis, including exploring initiatives like banning parking minimums and implementing inclusionary zoning.
“It feels like a breath of fresh air when Hartford for once sends us the funding we so rightly deserve,” Catalbasoglu said. “I’m glad Governor Malloy will be ending 2018 with such a fiscally responsible decision.”
Gov.-elect Ned Lamont will replace Malloy in January as governor of the Nutmeg state.
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