8 thoughts on “Town ‘Hard at Work’ on Application for Relief from Affordable Housing Law 

  1. The State definitions are the problem. “Affordable”? How are these calculated or determined? Is rent price the primary factor?

    “Housing Stock”? How is this calculated? What is the numerator and the denominator for the 10% calculation?

    Section 8-30 of Chapter 126a of the Connecticut General Statutes—allows developers in towns where less than 10% of all housing stock qualifies as affordable, to appeal local P&Z decisions in projects that set aside a certain percentage of new units as “affordable,” under the state’s definition.

    The state’s definition of “affordable” only includes properties that the government is deeply involved with on all sides of the housing transaction. The construction, the landlord side, and the tenant side. Developer’s get subsidy & tax credits, the landlords must deed restrict the land records to keep the government as a partner, tenants must accept the government as their partner/parental figures/God to qualify and they must do so each year. These connected developers, landlords, and tenants cannot do much without the government’s permission or subsidy.
    Guess the political beliefs of the government partners on all sides of the housing transaction?

    The tenants that get the “affordable” apartments are incentivized not to earn more money, and not to get married or else they will lose their “affordable” apartment.

    “Affordable” has little to do with this housing. It is about control!

    There are apartments and houses in New Canaan that rent for prices that fit the affordable financial standards that DON’T COUNT toward the “affordable stock”, because the government is not involved on all sides of the housing transaction.
    This “naturally occurring” affordable housing actually counts as not affordable. The units are included in the denominator but not the numerator.

    The “affordable” developers are hardly build affordable housing. Their “affordable” units cost twice as much to build because the government is involved throughout the entire process, and the developers earn some of the highest fees in the industry.
    They can only afford to rent these brand new units with all the bells and whistles at low rents by getting tax credits, incentives, grants or other government favors. To get the favors these developers are typically big political supporters.

    If the state can get Connecticut’s lovely small towns to give them control of 10% of the housing transactions, they won’t stop there. Next they will want control of all housing within .5 miles of trains or public transportation, an idea that was floated recently, or they will raise the threshold to 15%.

    The politicians and developers manipulate the definitions and formulas used, and they will continue doing so. They keep the slogans simple and the details complicated. The system is easily perpetuated because it sounds so noble. Who doesn’t think there should be more “Affordable housing”? Teacher’s, Police, and Firefighters should be able to afford to live in the towns where they work…

    This can be true without requiring the state to take over every town. New Canaan and other beautiful small towns should fight back hard against the state takeover.

    Tom O’dea is aware of much of this, but little can be done when so many benefit from the existing system, and so few understanding what is happening.

    We should take the definitions back.

    What is “affordable” and when is there enough of it? How affordable should it be? How should it be defined and measured.

    Affordable should be about price only not government involvement.

    Should every town be “affordable”? Every neighborhood? Every street?

    • I would like to see your points addressed by those more knowledgeable about the law. For example, I don’t believe there are incentives not to marry, because the definitions are defined based on family size. “Affordable” is defined in 8-30 as earning less than 60% of the area median income or 80% of the state.
      I found this definition: “Definition of Developments Facilitated by 8-30g
      At least 30% of housing units in a development seeking approval under 8-30g must be affordable, with at least 15% affordable to households earning no more than 80% of median income and at least 15% affordable to households earning 60%. Housing is considered affordable when it costs its occupants no more than 30% of income, including the cost of utilities. For the purposes of 8-30g, median income is defined as the lesser of Connecticut’s state median income or the property’s Area Median Income, as determined by HUD. As shown below, a three-person family would qualify for income at the 80% AMI threshold if the family earns no more than $70,650 per year. Their housing could cost nearly $1800 per month (including utilities) and be considered affordable to the family. Different funding programs support the development of housing at lower income levels, including for extremely low income households, which earn roughly 30% of the area median income, or less.”

  2. I fully agree with Kathleen Corbet’s idea of a FAQ correcting many of the false and misunderstood statements being made

    Bernard Simpkin

  3. Having just watched the BOS meeting from last night one thing became very clear. The application for extension of our town moratorium has never been a particularly high priority. Had it been the town would have hired a consultant months ago and all of the paperwork necessary would have been assembled and ready to file once the TCO for Canaan Parish was issued in Oct. All of the information the town is assembling today was available at that time. If we had done that the 90 day clock for the state to consider the submission would have started and stopped by now and Arnold Karp’s project would be sitting on his own desk and not on P&Z’s. The lack of urgency is more galling due to the fact that members of our town leadership knew that Karp had plans for an 30-g affordable housing project that had been submitted to our town fire Marshall for another property he owns on Hill St so his intentions have been clear for some time. Pointing fingers at Hartford is fine and may be deserved but it doesn’t absolve the lack of action on the town’s part to proactively pursue such a powerful tool that allows the town some modicum of control over how development of our town proceeds.
    All that said for perspective, pray for Ukraine!!

    • This is a really astute point. Thanks for making it. Seems disingenuous for the town to be so very surprised to find a bear in the kitchen when they left the door wide open.

  4. Stepping away from the intricacies of the proposed new build on the corner of Elm and Weed for just a moment, I’m hoping that if we are going to have a conversation about affordable housing as a community, we do so with facts and nuance and not political talking points nor sparring. I grew up here and returned as an adult with my partner who did the same; I think New Canaan deserves this dialogue from us.

    As a disabled woman, I know first hand that disabled folks like me live in poverty at more than twice the rate of people without disabilities whether we are able to work or not. People with disabilities make up approximately 12 percent of the U.S. working-age population (at least 20% of the population overall), but we account for more than half of those living in long-term poverty. A more recent estimate suggests 30% of us live in poverty, and in the last two years alone long Covid has disabled 1.2 million more Americans per many estimates.

    It’s expensive to be disabled, and what few resources are accessible to some of us after years-long, hard fought and expensive legal battles are truly paltry at best. I have buried too many friends whose deaths were preventable had they had access to any or more supportive financial intervention. It is by no means easy to receive social services, despite what we’ve been told, and those of us who do receive them are denied many times prior to approval. This minimal funding will be divided up further with such a large portion of our workforce unable to support themselves due to disability caused by the pandemic.

    As such, housing issues — like so many issues our society faces — are disability issues. As mentioned above, many of us do lose our benefits when we marry — and that often includes our health insurance, publicly funded or private. This is manageable perhaps if our partners can support us financially and with their health insurance benefits, but for many this is not the case. Said another way: there is still not marriage equality for disabled folks in 2022. We do not *choose* to not marry. We are *forced* to not marry because we cannot afford to survive if we tie the knot to the person we love most in this precious earth for the brief time we are on it.

    And finally: call me radical, but I believe we deserve to live in every town, on every street.

    NB All the facts and statistics I’ve shared above are from reputable, nonpartisan, highly researched sources and can easily be found with a quick google search. If this is the first time you’re reading this information, know it’s because the media does not find disability justice particularly newsworthy unless politicians are using us to prove a gruesome, often grossly inaccurate, point and not because I am misinformed.

    • I was remiss in not including this fact, as “welfare abuse” is a common retort to the facts I’ve outlined: only about 3% of social services are overpayments, and more often than not these are clerical or technical errors. Many agencies put fraud at closer to 1%.

      Salon described the phenomena of inflating fraud fairly well recently:

      If we are going to talk about social services for disability and abuse, we should talk about the fact 70% of disabled folks report being abused and experts believe this is an underestimate. Disabled women are twice as likely to experience domestic violence than their nondisabled peers, at a rate of 50%. Again, safe and secure affordable housing is a disability issue.

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