April 10, 2007
AFFORDABLE HOUSING PRESERVATION
By: Joseph R. Holstead, Associate Analyst
You asked (1) how many state- and federally financed affordable housing rental units of various kinds have been preserved (i.e., kept affordable to low- and moderate-income households) in the state and (2) who participated in a 2004-2005 multi-agency study and discussions on the preservation issue.
The Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), the state's lead housing agency, has helped preserve more than 4,000 units since 1995 (the year the state's Housing and Economic Development departments were combined to form DECD). Since 1993, the quasi-public Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) has worked to preserve 4,753 affordable rental units.
Overall, in early 2005, the state had 81,579 affordable assisted rental housing units (i.e., in use by or available for low- and moderate-income people), which is substantially the same number today, according to CHFA. This includes CHFA developments and the state affordable rental housing loan portfolio, Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) developments, DECD/other developments, federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) developments, and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other federal developments.
However, CHFA notes that the preservation picture for the state is complex because various developments are subject to different contracts and programs that may allow them to become market rate units (e.g., no longer affordable because an owner paid back a loan or contract requirements expire) at different times. DECD has been working over the past two years (as required under PA 05-239) with CHFA and other entities to develop and maintain a comprehensive list of government assisted units, which may be used in part to provide information about certain affordable developments that may at different times be lost to the affordable housing stock.
In 2004, to address affordability and preservation issues, several entities formed a study group, which first met in December of that year and included individuals from: CHFA, DECD, HUD, USDA - Rural Development; Connecticut Housing Coalition; Local Initiatives Support Corporation; Recapitalization Advisors; Connecticut Legal Services; Konover Properties; JHM Financial Group; New Neighborhoods; Middletown Housing Authority; East Hartford Housing Authority; TCB, Inc.; Connolly and Partners; Mason's Island Realty Group, LLC; Connecticut Appleseed; and the Partnership for Strong Communities.
Additionally, PA 06-48 expanded the number of affordable housing developments that must provide a one-year notification when the owner intends to end a program or pay off a loan that keeps units affordable and added to the types of events that trigger it.
AFFORDABLE RENTAL UNITS IN THE STATE AND PRESERVATION
By law, housing units are considered affordable if a person earning no more than the area median income (AMI) pays no more than 30% of his annual income for it (CGS § 8-39a). HUD annually issues a listing of states' AMIs by metropolitan statistical area and by county.
Other statutes use the 30% of annual income standard discussed under § 8-39a, but apply it to a lower income group. This is sometimes referred to as income-grouped housing. For example, the law requires the DECD and CHFA to serve people with incomes that are 25% or less of the AMI and between 25% and 50% of the AMI (CGS § 8-37aa and -37dd).
Included in the universe of affordable housing is the state affordable rental housing loan portfolio. In 2003, DECD transferred its housing loan portfolio (for which it had oversight) to CHFA, and CHFA gave $85 million to the state in return, as authorized under PA 02-1 and PA 02-5 of the May 9 Special Session. The portfolio includes over 17,000 low- and moderate income units (e.g., elderly, congregate, and family public housing) in 412 developments.
Affordable Housing Stock
CHFA provided a copy of the list that the preservation study group compiled, which it completed in early 2005. At that time, approximately 81,579 units in the state were affordable as listed in Table 1.
Table 1: Affordable Housing Developments
Type of Development
Number of Units
CHFA State Housing Loan Portfolio
CHFA additionally reported that, since the 1990s, it has worked to preserve affordable assisted rental housing units in two ways. First, it provided incentives to owners of CHFA financed rental housing developments to extend the periods during which the developments are required to be rented to low-income households. Second, CHFA has provided low cost mortgage financing and federal LIHTCs for new owners to acquire, rehabilitate, and preserve affordable housing developments originally developed through various federally assisted housing programs.
CHFA approved 32 transactions using these methods totaling just under 3,900 housing units, which were rehabilitated as needed and re-established in new long term low-income service periods (generally, an additional 30 years), according to CHFA. Additionally, CHFA provided low cost mortgages and allocated federal LIHTCs for the development of nearly 900 new housing units in Hartford, New Haven, and Stamford through the federal HOPE VI public housing replacement program.
Specifically, CHFA preserved:
1. 2,026 units in its portfolio through its portfolio preservation initiative;
2. 1,835 units acquired from the federal Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD); and
3. 892 that are HOPE VI replacement units.
CHFA and DECD continue to work to help preserve affordable assisted rental units.
COMPREHENSIVE LIST: ASSISTED INVENTORY AND DATABASE INFORMATION
PA 05-239 required DECD to develop and maintain a comprehensive inventory of all assisted housing in the state by July 1, 2006. The inventory must identify all existing assisted rental units by type and funding source. It also must include information on tenant eligibility, rents charged, available subsidies, occupancy and vacancy rates, waiting lists and accessibility features (CGS § 8-37ff). To assist DECD in the completing the inventory, the act requires all assisted housing unit owners, both public and private, to report information on their units to the database established and maintained by DECD under CGS § 8-119x. “Assisted housing” is (1) housing that is receiving, or will receive, financial assistance under any governmental program for the construction or substantial rehabilitation of low- and moderate-income housing and (2) any housing occupied by people receiving state or federal low-income rental assistance (e.g., federal Section 8 vouchers or state Rental Assistance Program certificates) (CGS § 8-30g). DECD continues to work on the assisted housing database.