OLR Research Report


October 20, 2006

 

2006-R-0638

AFFORDABLE HOUSING AGENCIES AND THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING LAND USE APPEALS PROCEDURE

 

By: Joseph Holstead, Associate Analyst

You asked how many (1) agencies and organizations (government and private) in the state are involved in (i.e., advocate for or work on) affordable housing and (2) new units of affordable housing have been created under the affordable housing land use appeals procedure since it went into effect in 1990.

SUMMARY

We identified five state agencies, one quasi-public agency, and municipal housing authorities and several private organizations as being involved with affordable housing. Among the private organizations is the Connecticut Housing Coalition, which includes 65 non-profit affordable housing developers in its network and over 250 members overall.

The state does not keep statistics on the number of housing developments approved under the affordable housing land use appeals procedure; however, a Hartford law firm estimates that the procedure yielded approximately 3,200 affordable units between 1990 and the end of 2004.

The affordable housing land use appeals procedure is a set of rules developers and courts must follow when a developer sues a municipality for rejecting a proposed affordable housing project or a housing project that would include a certain percentage of affordable units. Municipalities without at least 10% of their housing stock meeting affordable criteria under the law are subject to the procedure.

AGENCIES AND ORGANIZATIONS IN CONNECTICUT INVOLVED WITH AFFORDABLE HOUSING

There are a number of organizations, government and private, in the state that are involved with affordable housing issues. For example, housing authorities are quasi-public agencies having the powers necessary under the law to provide safe, sanitary affordable housing (CGS 8-40). There are 108 such housing authorities in the state. Many of these authorities are charged with performing an affordability review on 8-30g units as they come up for resale, according to the state Economic and Community Development Department. For more information on housing authorities see OLR report 2006-R-0555.

Below is a list of the other entities we identified as advocating for or working on (e.g., financing or administering housing programs) affordable housing. Table 1 shows state agencies, including a quasi-public entity, that are involved in affordable housing. Table 2 below lists private organizations that advocate for or work on affordable housing.

Table 1: State and Quasi-Public Agencies Dealing with Housing

Agency

Statutory Citation

Statutory Mission

Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD)

CGS 8-37r et seq.

DECD is the lead agency for all state housing matters. Its commissioner must (a) monitor private and public sector progress toward meeting state housing needs and (b) coordinate with regional agencies, municipalities, housing authorities, and other appropriate agencies on housing policy and activities. DECD's commissioner and the CHFA prepare a long-range state housing plan every five years. DECD annually updates the state housing plan.

Connecticut Housing Finance Housing Authority (CHFA)

CGS 8-250, -242, -244, and -37uu

CHFA's purpose is to alleviate the shortage of low- and moderate-income housing and, when appropriate, to promote or maintain state economic development through employer-assisted housing efforts. It provides state housing assistance to low- and moderate-income people by making and purchasing mortgages and undertaking other financing arrangements to meet the state's needs and achieve its objectives, including mortgage loans to families and persons of low- and moderate-income for the purchase of existing housing units. CHFA is a quasi-public agency. The State Housing Authority is a subsidiary of CHFA. DECD transferred its housing loan portfolio to CHFA in 2003.

Department of Social Services (DSS)

CGS 17b-2, -3, 347e, and-800 et seq

DSS is a public housing agency. It administers the federal Section 8 existing certificate and housing voucher program. DSS' commissioner may make grants to develop and maintain programs for homeless people (including programs for emergency shelters services, transitional housing services, on-site social services for available permanent housing and for homelessness prevention). Additionally, DSS, DECD, and CHFA collaborate on a demonstration project for subsidized assisted living services for people living in affordable housing.

Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS)

CGS 17a-450 (c) (2), -455a, -468, and -485c

DHMAS' commissioner, in collaboration with DSS, DECD, and CHFA, established a supportive housing pilot to provide up to 650 housing units of affordable housing to eligible households. This, along with the Next Steps Initiative, provides housing for people and families affected by psychiatric disabilities and chemical dependency who are homeless or risk homelessness, and for supervised ex-offenders with mental health needs, among others (CGS 17a-485c).

Office of Policy and Management (OPM)

CGS 4-65a, -66, -66b, -66c, and -73

OPM is responsible for all aspects of state planning and analysis or budgeting, management, etc. OPM's secretary developed a form for capital development impact statements on which state agencies must indicate the way a planned or requested capital project or program addresses, among other things, the goal of promoting housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income people in urban areas. (OPM has the power to issue urban action bonds, funds that are used for DECD housing projects). OPM assists the governor in formulating the budget for all budgeted agencies.

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds programs that state agencies administer, such as the Housing Choice Vouchers program. HUD's state office is located in Hartford. The following link provides more information: HUD Connecticut.

Table 2: Private Organizations Involved with Affordable Housing

Organization

About

The Connecticut Housing Coalition (CHC)

CHC is a state-wide community-based affordable housing network. It consists of more than 250 members, including non-profit developers, human service agencies, resident associations and other housing practitioners and activists. Sixty-five non-profit developers belong to the network, according to Pat Spring, CHC Nonprofit Developers Network Coordinator. CHC's goal is to expand affordable housing opportunities in the state, according to its website.

Connecticut Housing Investment Fund (CHIF)

CHIF is a private, nonprofit organization established to finance affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization projects throughout Connecticut. It works closely with state housing agencies.

Legal Assistance Resource Center of Connecticut (LARCC)

LARCC advocates legislatively and administratively for policies that benefit low-income people, including increasing and preserving affordable housing. It is a collaborative project of the state's four legal services programs, according to its website.

Connecticut Legal Services

The legal services programs are a group of nonprofit organizations that provide legal assistance in civil matters, including housing, to low-income people. Services are free, but eligibility depends upon income, family size, assets and legal issue, according to its website.

Connecticut Chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (CONN-NARHO)

CONN-NAHRO provides housing professionals a forum to exchange ideas, develop strategy, and work with state legislators and housing officials toward the goal of having decent, safe, sanitary, and affordable housing for state residents, according to its website.

Partnership for Strong Communities

The Partnership for Strong Communities (funded by Melville Charitable Trust grant) is a collaborative advocacy initiative dedicated to ending homelessness and investing in affordable housing. Its partner organizations are the Corporation for Supportive Housing, Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, Connecticut AIDS Residence Coalition, Connecticut Housing Coalition, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, Connecticut), according to its website.

CT Coalition to End Homelessness (CCEH)*

CCEH is a statewide network that works to identify and eliminate the root causes of homelessness, which includes increasing affordable and supportive housing opportunities.

Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH)

CSH helps communities create permanent housing with services to prevent and end homelessness, according to its website.

* CCEH's website also identified the following organizations (some of which are Partnership for Strong Communities partners), linked to their respective websites, which are concerned about affordable housing issues: Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Mutual Housing Association of Greater Hartford, Corporation for Independent Living, CT AIDS Residence Coalition, CT Voices for Children, CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence, CT Association of Nonprofits, Chrysalis Center, Food Share, Collaborative Center For Justice.

NEW UNITS UNDER 8-30G

Attorney Timothy Hollister, a partner with the Hartford law firm Shipman and Goodwin, LLP (which represents private developers), estimated that at the end of 2004 the procedure had added about 3200 units. This represented about 2% of the state's overall housing production from 1990 through 2004, a number that has been somewhat consistent throughout the time that 8-30g has been in effect, according to Hollister.

Determining How Many Units Have Been Added under the Procedure

It is difficult to determine an exact number, as no state agency keeps statistics on the number of units created under the law. Furthermore, it is possible that developers have used the possibility of the procedure (where the burden of proof in court is on the municipality) to gain leverage when negotiating for a project. Thus, it could be that developers have been able to create affordable units without actually going to court under the law (i.e., because municipality's want to avoid court costs).

However, Hollister notes, for deed-restricted and assisted units, DECD's list of municipalities subject to the procedure, which the law (CGS 32-1m) requires the department to annually compile, provides a good indicator based on how it has changed since 1991. Municipalities with 10% or more of their housing stock meeting the law's definition of affordable are exempt from the procedure. Thirty towns are currently exempt, according to DECD's 2005 list, which is the latest (attached).

Units that May be Counted toward the Exemption under 8-30g

By law, housing units that may be counted toward the 10% threshold for exemption are (1) those built, acquired, or rented with government funds for low- and moderate-income people and (2) those where deeds require the owners to sell or rent the units at prices these people can afford. Specifically, this housing is:

1. defined as “assisted” (see below);

2. currently financed by Connecticut Housing Finance Authority mortgages;

3. deed restricted, which requires that the units be sold or rented at or below prices that preserve the units as affordable (i.e., people pay no more than 30% of their income, when their income is less than or equal to 80% of the area median income); or

4. in the form of (a) mobile manufactured homes that are located in mobile manufactured home parks or (b) legally-approved accessory apartments that are deed restricted (CGS 8-30g(k)).

“Assisted” housing under the law is that which is (1) receiving, or will receive, financial assistance under any governmental program for the construction or substantial rehabilitation of low- and moderate- income housing, or (2) occupied by people receiving rental assistance under state (CGS 17b-800 et seq.) or federal low-income housing assistance programs (42 USC 1437f).

For more information about the procedure, see OLR report 2006-R-0418 and 2005-R-0764.

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