Location:
HOUSING;
Scope:
Connecticut laws/regulations;

OLR Research Report


HOUSING 2008

Kristin Sullivan, Principal Analyst

2011-R-0474

December 20, 2011

NOTICE TO READERS

This report summarizes Public Acts that affect housing passed in the 2008 regular and special sessions. We do not summarize all provisions of each act. Consequently, we encourage readers to obtain full texts of the acts that interest them online at www.cga.ct.gov, or from the State Library or the House Clerk's Office. Complete analyses are on our webpage (www.cga.ct.gov/olr).

Table of Contents

Brownfields redevelopment 4

First-Time Homebuyers 4

ENERGY EFFICIENCY 4

Furnace Rebates 4

Funding Increase for Furnace Rebates 5

Energy Conservation Loans 5

Energy Audits 6

Weatherization for Low Income Households 6

mortgages and foreclosure 7

Mortgage Assistance and the Foreclosure Mediation Program 7

Protection for Tenants and the Foreclosure Mediation Program 7

Emergency Housing Benefits for Certain Foreclosure Defendants 8

Reinstatement Payment Statements 8

Public housing 8

Permitting Solid Waste Facilities Located Near Housing
Developments
8

Terminating Leases for Elderly and People with Disabilities 9

Relocation ASSISTANCE 9

Displacement by District Health Department 9

Supportive Housing 9

Next Steps Initiative 9

Taxes 10

Property Tax Abatements and Exemptions for Certain Housing 10

Real Estate Conveyance Tax 10

BROWNFIELDS REDEVELOPMENT

First-Time Homebuyers

PA 08-174 establishes a low-interest loan program for parties who own or plan to purchase contaminated property. Eligible applicants are those who qualify for financing under the former generic program: municipalities, for profit and nonprofit organizations, local and regional economic development corporations acting on a municipality's behalf, and combinations of these organizations acting jointly. The former generic brownfield remediation and development program offered a wide range of financial assistance to public, nonprofit, and private entities.

Projects qualify for loans under the act if they will retain or create jobs or develop housing for first-time homebuyers. These may involve manufacturing, retail, residential, or mixed-use developments, expansions, or reuses. Applicants applying for loans of more than $50,000 must submit a redevelopment plan that describes how the property will be used or reused and how it will stimulate new jobs and investment in the community.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

Furnace Rebates

By law, the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) must provide a rebate of up to $500 for people who replace their residential furnaces or boilers with energy efficient ones. PA 08-1, August Special Session, (1) eliminates a $5 million annual cap on the rebates; (2) ends the program one day sooner, moving it from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2017; and (3) requires that the furnace or boiler be purchased and installed between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2017 to be eligible for the rebate.

By law, the amount of the rebate decreases with the purchaser's Connecticut adjusted gross income in the same way as the property tax credit against the income tax. The act specifies that the purchaser's eligibility for the program is based on his or her Connecticut personal income tax return for the tax year prior to the tax year in which he or she bought the furnace or boiler.

The act prohibits a person from receiving a rebate under this program if he or she has received a grant for furnace or boiler replacement under any program administered by the Fuel Oil Conservation Board (FOCB) or any other state or federal grant program that pays the full cost of furnace or boiler replacement. But, a person using a state or federal low interest loan program to pay for a furnace or boiler replacement may be eligible for a rebate. In any case, the rebate cannot exceed the total expenditures for the furnace or boiler replacement.

The act entitles a person who is not required to file a federal income tax return because his or her income does not meet the filing requirements and who otherwise qualifies for the rebate, to the maximum rebate, subject to verification of income in a manner prescribed by the secretary.

Under the act, rebates under the program (1) do not count as taxable income for purposes of the income tax and (2) must be excluded from any calculation of income for purposes of determining the eligibility for, or the benefit level of, any individual under any state or local program financed in whole or in part with state funds.

EFFECTIVE DATE: upon passage

Funding Increase for Furnace Rebates

PA 08-2, August Special Session, appropriates $3 million from the funds credited to OPM for FY 09 to increase funding for the replacement furnace rebate program.

The act additionally requires the OPM secretary to provide a rebate to eligible state residents who repair or upgrade their existing boilers or furnaces to improve their efficiency on or after August 1, 2008. Eligibility for these rebates must be determined using the eligibility criteria established for the existing program for replacements. The new rebate is available only for residential structures containing up to four dwelling units. Rebates are capped at $500 or 50% of the cost of the repair or upgrade, whichever is less. The act appropriates $2 million from the funds credited to OPM for FY 09 to provide funding for the new rebate program.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

Energy Conservation Loans

PA 08-2, August Special Session, increases the maximum income a household can have to participate in the energy conservation loan program from 150% to 200% of the median area income for the household's size. The program, administered by the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), provides loans for energy efficiency improvements and replacement furnaces and boilers in residential structures. The act sets a 0% interest rate for loans for natural gas furnaces or boilers that meet or exceed federal Energy Star standards and propane and oil furnaces and boilers that are at least 84% efficient.

The act appropriates $2 million from the funds credited in FY 09 to DECD to provide additional loans for this program for the efficiency improvements, alternative energy devices, and replacement furnaces and boilers. It allows DECD to spend up to $250,000 of the appropriation for administrative expenses and promotion of the program.

EFFECTIVE DATE: upon passage

Energy Audits

PA 08-2, August Special Session, requires OPM to establish a program to subsidize energy audits conducted by oil dealers or other entities for people who heat their homes with fuels other than natural gas or electricity. The program must cover the balance of the cost of audits conducted from September 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009 for qualified oil companies or other entities that show they (1) provided an energy audit to a residential customer and (2) collected a $75 fee from the customer for the audit.

The act appropriates $7 million of the funds credited to the General Fund in FY 09 to OPM for the program. Any unexpended funds do not lapse at the end of FY 09 and are available for expenditure during FY 10.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

Weatherization for Low Income Households

PA 08-2, August Special Session, appropriates $2 million of the funds credited to the Department of Social Services (DSS) in FY 09 to develop a plan for (1) funding weatherization projects for low-income households who participate in the Connecticut energy assistance program, (2) giving priority to helping households with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level, and (3) coordinating this assistance with the weatherization assistance provided to low-income households administered by the municipal electric utilities and utility companies under existing programs overseen by the FOCB and the Energy Conservation Management Board (ECMB). By November 1, 2008, and at least 45 days before implementing the plan, DSS must submit the plan to the Connecticut Energy Advisory Board, FOCB, and the ECMB for input and advice. ECMB may order that the plan be modified to ensure effective prioritization and coordination of weatherization assistance.

EFFECTIVE DATE: upon passage

MORTGAGES AND FORECLOSURE

Mortgage Assistance and the Foreclosure Mediation Program

PA 08-176 authorizes the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) to (1) continue the CT FAMILIES refinancing program and (2) implement mortgage refinancing and emergency mortgage assistance programs. It allows CHFA to develop and implement a program to purchase foreclosed Connecticut property and turn it into supportive and affordable housing. The act requires WorkPlace, Inc., in conjunction with the other regional workforce development boards and one-stop centers, to establish a mortgage crisis job training program.

The act requires the chief court administrator, by July 1, 2008, to establish a foreclosure mediation program in each judicial district. The act establishes requirements for mortgage loans (mainly for nonprime loans) and for mortgage professionals making those loans, and makes a number of changes to the National Mortgage Licensing requirements adopted under PA 07-156. Finally, the act establishes a commission on nontraditional loans and home equity lines of credit.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2008, except for the CT FAMILIES program, state assistance for the existing Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program, the establishment of the mediation program, and nontraditional mortgage commission provisions, which are effective on passage.

Protection for Tenants and the Foreclosure Mediation Program

Among other things, PA 08-2, November Special Session, establishes protections for tenants of foreclosed properties by (1) increasing the length of time certain tenants may continue residing in the property and (2) establishing a minimum threshold for incentives offered by mortgagees, lien holders, or successors in interest for tenants to move from foreclosed residential property.

The act also expands the maximum allowable length of the foreclosure mediation program and delays the start of the first mediation session. Specifically, it allows the mediation period to be extended for 30, rather than 10, days and allows the court to also grant an extension at the written request of the mediator. In addition, the act requires the first mediation session to be held within 15, rather than 10, days after notice of the mediation request is sent.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

Emergency Housing Benefits for Certain Foreclosure Defendants

PA 08-22 allows recipients of Temporary Family Assistance or State Supplemental benefits who are foreclosure defendants to be eligible for DSS emergency housing benefits when a foreclosure judgment is entered, rather than when the property owner's right to redeem has expired. By law, when a strict foreclosure judgment is entered, the court sets a “law date” by which the property owner must make full payment on the property or lose ownership. The time to redeem the property does not expire until the end of the foreclosure process, which may limit a person's ability to secure emergency housing.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2008

Reinstatement Payment Statements

PA 08-58 generally extends the requirements for issuing mortgage payoff statements to reinstatement payment statements. It defines a “reinstatement payment statement” as one that provides the total amount owed that a borrower must pay to cause the loan to be reinstated, provided any other contractual conditions for reinstatement are satisfied.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2008

PUBLIC HOUSING

Permitting Solid Waste Facilities Located Near Housing Developments

PA 08-173 bars the Department of Environmental Protection commissioner from permitting a solid waste facility to be built or operated on land whose boundary is within 150 feet of property where there is a housing development owned by a housing authority, unless the commissioner determines the facility does not pose a threat to (1) the environment of the surrounding geographic area or (2) public safety. It exempts from this prohibition (1) permits to build or operate a solid waste facility issued on or before September 30, 2008 and (2) the renewal of these permits. Under the act, a solid waste facility is a solid waste disposal area, volume reduction plant, transfer station, wood-burning facility, biomedical waste treatment facility, or redemption center.

It also allows an owner, regardless of any law, condominium association bylaw, or affordable housing deed restriction limiting the sale price of housing, who purchased housing between July 1, 2004 and July 15, 2004 for more than the amount specified in the law, bylaw, or restriction, to sell it for an amount that does not exceed the purchase price.

EFFECTIVE DATE: The ban on the construction or operation of certain solid waste facilities is effective October 1, 2008. The condominium resale provision is effective upon passage.

Terminating Leases for Elderly and People with Disabilities

PA 08-93 allows certain elderly people and individuals with disabilities accepted into state or federally subsidized housing to terminate their leases or rental agreements without penalty if they provide their landlords 30 days written notice. It applies to low-income seniors age 62 and older and individuals certified as disabled by a federal board or agency.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2008 and applicable to any existing lease or rental agreement entered into, renewed, or extended on or after this date.

RELOCATION ASSISTANCE

Displacement by District Health Department

Under PA 08-137, if a district health department displaces someone from their home, the municipality in which the home is located is responsible for any relocation assistance available to the occupant under the law. (Generally, such a health department order occurs when a hazard, nuisance, or source of filth injurious to the public health is identified.) The district health department must notify the occupant in writing of his or her rights when it issues a displacement order. The notice must include the contact information of the person authorized by the municipality to process applications for relocation assistance under the Uniform Relocation Assistance Act (URAA). The URAA establishes uniform policies for people displaced from their dwellings or businesses by state or local government activities and actions.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

SUPPORTIVE HOUSING

Next Steps Initiative

PA 08-123 authorizes the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to provide an additional 500 “Next Steps” supportive housing units, mainly for people with mental illness. Funding for these units comes from mortgages, tax credits, and grants from CHFA and DECD. The act authorizes the state to provide annual debt service payments on an additional $35 million in bonds CHFA may issue to finance these units. It also makes technical changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

TAXES

Property Tax Abatements and Exemptions for Certain Housing

PA 08-10 allows the DECD commissioner to continue reimbursing municipalities for property tax abatements and exemptions granted to low- and moderate-income housing. It does so by changing provisions specifying the circumstances under which the commissioner must end these reimbursements, which are authorized under two statutory programs.

One program allows municipalities to abate property taxes on privately-owned multifamily housing if the owner agrees to keep the rents affordable for low- and moderate-income people. Under prior law, the commissioner could reimburse municipalities for these abatements for up to 40 consecutive years. The act eliminates this sunset provision.

The other program exempts public housing authorities (PHA) from paying property taxes on moderate rental housing projects they developed with state funds. Prior law allowed the commissioner to reimburse municipalities for the revenue loss as long as the PHAs owned the projects. Under the act, the commissioner may continue reimbursing a project after a public or private entity acquired and redeveloped it with her approval.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2008

Real Estate Conveyance Tax

PA 08-1, June Special Session, extends the expiration date of the basic 0.25% municipal real estate conveyance tax rate for two years, until July 1, 2010. In doing so, it also maintains the optional rate of up to 0.5% allowable in 18 eligible municipalities for the same two years.

Under prior law, the basic municipal rate was scheduled to drop from 0.25% to 0.11% on July 1, 2008. Because 18 towns are eligible to impose an additional tax of up to 0.25% on top of the basic rate, the maximum rate allowable in the 18 towns under prior law would have dropped from 0.5% to 0.36% on that date.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

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