‘Ambitious’ Housing Bill Gets a Second Chance in Connecticut Legislature

Image Credit: Robin Breeding


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After dying in committee last year, the “Fair Share” affordable housing bill is heading to the floor of the Connecticut General Assembly for a vote after receiving the approval of the state’s Housing Committee earlier in March. 

The law, if passed, would supplement the state’s existing affordable housing law by establishing town-by-town goals for constructing affordable apartments that, if built, would together add roughly two or three times the housing now required under 8-30g.

“Fair Share” assigns each town in Connecticut a share of affordable housing based on a formula drafted by the Open Communities Alliance, a Hartford-based nonprofit, with the self-described “ambitious mission of unwinding Connecticut’s history of government-perpetuated segregation … by establishing pathways to affordable housing in thriving communities.”

According to OCA Executive Director Erin Boggs, the housing calculation is based on four main factors: a town’s grand list value, relative area median income, the town’s percentage of poverty and the town’s percentage of multifamily housing.

Open Communities Alliance estimates that 137,304 affordable housing units are needed across Connecticut, based on 2016 U.S. Census and HUD data – a number that can be reduced by as much as 30 percent, to 85,886 units, if towns provide housing that includes more than two bedrooms.

The legislation is based on what advocates call the Mt. Laurel Doctrine — drawn from two landmark New Jersey Supreme Court cases, Mount Laurel I (1975) and Mount Laurel II (1983), which together decided that the state’s municipal land use regulations cannot discriminate against the poor for the purpose of housing, and ordered each town in New Jersey to plan and zone for a “fair share” of the region’s need for affordable housing.

David Kinsey, of Kinsey & Hand consulting, was responsible for developing the New Jersey’s formula, which was modified by Sam Giffin, a policy and data analyst, on the staff of OCA.

Calculating a “fair share”

The calculation varies significantly from 8-30g, but does not replace the existing law.

In the case of Old Lyme for example, the town’s “fair share” is calculated at 346 apartments, about 10 fewer than neighboring Old Saybrook, and fewer than the roughly 419 units needed to meet the 10 percent threshold under 8-30g. 

For Fairfield, the formula currently calculates a “fair share” of 2,015 new affordable apartments – compared to the roughly 1,557 new affordable units needed to meet a 10-percent cap in the town.

In Guilford, the town’s “fair share” is calculated at an additional 1,671 new affordable apartments – also more than the approximately 732 additional apartments under  8-30g.

Stamford, which currently meets the goals of 8-30g, with about 15.7 percent of housing qualifying as affordable, is given a “fair share” of  2,385 affordable units.

Hamden, which is currently just shy of 10 percent under 8-30g, at 9.33 percent, needs another 168 apartments to meet existing thresholds, and 1842 additional units to meet its “fair share.”

In each case, the new law would not replace existing 8-30g thresholds, and would cap the “fair share” calculation to no more than 20% of existing occupied housing stock.

You can find out how your town’s share is calculated here.