To the Editor:
Before the legislature in Hartford is HB 6633, also known as the “Fair Share” law. This bill provides that the Office of Policy Management assess the need for affordable housing in different parts of the state and then assign numerical objectives to each town and city to create affordable housing and to meet very specific targets.
Ultimately, however, this bill represents a very sizable (and undefined) unfunded mandate “cram down” tax on the cities and towns, in that no one has even attempted to cost out the very significant expenditures that will be required by cities and towns to build (or to perhaps subsidize) what is likely to be well over 140,000 “fair share” homes across the state, as advocated by some proponents. Under the New Jersey Mount Laurel cases and the many that followed in New Jersey (the case upon which the “Fair Share” Bill is based), New Jersey towns are responsible for their allocated affordable home development and the towns must undertake that development or subsidize it if no commercial developers are forthcoming. Similarly, Connecticut towns will have such an obligation under Bill HB-6633.
Some towns, according to proponents of the bill may need to expand their affordable housing stock such that it constitutes as much as 20% of the current homes in the town.
What is missing from the language in HB 6633 is how towns and cities accomplish these objectives — only that they must get it done.
Unfunded mandates like HB 6633 do have a very large and significant cost to the residents of this state. Just fathom the cost of this bill to taxpayers in both cities and towns alike. If you are starting to feel that this bill is like signing a huge taxpayer “blank check”, then you have just scratched the surface of the question. How can this possibly be responsible lawmaking?
We can all likely agree that a humane society should accord those in need, and without the resources to provide for themselves, with appropriate food, clothing and shelter. But this should not translate to extreme and ludicrous statewide development mandates being levied on individual towns and cities without knowing the specific short and long-term costs to state residents.
This type of “cram down” unfunded mandate is simply not a rational approach to good and effective policymaking and the New Jersey model is not one that Connecticut should emulate.