PA 17-170—sHB 6880 (VETOED; OVERRIDDEN)

Housing Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING LAND USE APPEALS PROCEDURE

SUMMARY: This act makes several changes to the affordable housing land use appeals procedure (“procedure”), which requires planning and zoning commissions to defend their decisions to deny affordable housing developments or approve them with certain conditions. Generally, the act makes it easier for municipalities to qualify for a temporary suspension of (i.e., moratorium), or exemption from, the procedure. It also extends the length of moratoria for certain municipalities. Some of the changes to the procedure terminate on September 30, 2022, as described below.

The act also:

1. requires all municipalities to adopt an affordable housing plan every five years,

2. aligns the definition of “median income” applicable to the incentive housing zone (IHZ) statutes to the affordable housing land use appeals procedure statutes, and

3. makes technical and conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage; except that the (1) “median income” provision applies to IHZs and related grants approved by the Department of Housing (DOH) after July 24, 2017 and (2) specified moratorium-related provisions sunset on September 30, 2022.

EXEMPTION FROM THE PROCEDURE

By law, a developer cannot appeal under the procedure in a municipality (1) in which DOH determines at least 10% of the housing stock is affordable or (2) that obtains a moratorium.

The act requires DOH to count homes in “resident-owned mobile manufactured home parks” as part of a municipality's affordable housing stock (i.e., toward the 10% threshold) and makes such homes eligible for housing unit-equivalent (HUE) points toward a moratorium. (To obtain a moratorium, a municipality needs to increase its affordable housing supply by a certain amount, measured in HUE points.)

Under the act, “resident-owned mobile manufactured home parks” are parks with homes located on deed restricted land and, at the time a loan for the purchase of the land was issued, the loan required 75% of the units (parcels of land) to be leased to households earning 80% or less of the median income. Furthermore, of these income-restricted units in a resident-owned mobile manufactured home park, either:

1. 40% must be leased to households earning 60% or less of the median income or

2. 20% must be leased to households earning 50% or less of the median income.

The act also establishes a HUE point value for homes in these parks (see Table 2 below). It does not specify how long the required deed restrictions must last.

Under existing law, deed-restricted mobile homes count toward the 10% exemption threshold if the necessary restriction is for at least 10 years and requires the units to be sold or rented at prices so that low- and moderate-income individuals or families will pay no more than 30% of their income for them (i.e., the units are deemed affordable).

MORATORIA

Under existing law, a municipality is eligible for a moratorium each time it shows it has added a certain number of affordable housing units over the applicable time period (for first moratoria: since July 1, 1990). Newly built set-aside and assisted housing developments count toward the moratorium, as do units subject to certain deed restrictions. (Moratoria are not applicable to certain assisted housing development proposals.)

Five Year Moratoria

Under prior law, all statutory moratoria lasted for four years. The act lengthens the duration of moratoria for municipalities with at least 20,000 dwelling units, as of the last decennial census, and that previously obtained a moratorium under CGS 8-30g. Under the act, second and subsequent moratoria in these municipalities last five years.

Lower HUE Points Requirement

Under prior law, a municipality was eligible for a moratorium if it showed it added affordable housing units, measured in HUE points, equaling the greater of (1) 2% of the housing stock, as of the last decennial census, or (2) 75 HUE points.

The act lowers the 2% standard to 1.5% for municipalities that have adopted an affordable housing plan (see below) and have at least 20,000 dwelling units, if the municipality is applying for its second or subsequent moratorium under CGS 8-30g.

Through September 30, 2022, the act lowers, from 75 to 50, the minimum number of HUE points municipalities need to qualify for a moratorium.

Calculating HUE Points Toward a Moratorium

Under the procedure, base HUE points are weighted based on unit affordability, population served, and ownership type. Table 1 shows the types of units that count toward a moratorium under existing law, as well as their point value.

Table 1: Base HUE Points

Unit Type

HUE Point Value

(per unit)

Owned or rented market-rate unit in a set-aside development

0.25

Owned or rented elderly unit restricted to households earning no more than 80% of the median income*

0.50

Owned family unit restricted to households earning no more than:

80% of the median income

1.00

60% of the median income

1.50

40% of the median income

2.00

Rented family unit restricted to households earning no more than:

80% of the median income

1.50

60% of the median income

2.00

40% of the median income

2.50

*Median income means the lesser of the state median income or the area median income, after adjustments for family size.

Homes in Resident-Owned Mobile Manufactured Home Parks. The act establishes HUE point values for homes in resident-owned mobile manufactured home parks, based on the occupants' income, as shown in Table 2. (Under the act, it is unclear whether the points are allocated based on occupancy on the day the municipality applies for a moratorium, or on another date.)

Table 2: Points for Homes in Resident-Owned Mobile Home Parks

Unit Type

Base HUE Point Value

(per unit)

Owned or rented homes occupied by households earning 80% or less of the median income*

1.5

Owned or rented homes occupied by households earning 60% or less of the median income

2.0

Owned or rented homes not otherwise eligible for points

0.25

*Median income means the lesser of the state median income or the area median income,

after adjustments for family size.

By law unchanged by the act, eligible mobile manufactured homes qualify for HUE points based on the general criteria that apply to all housing units, which vary depending on home affordability, population served, and ownership type.

Incentive Housing Development (IHD) Units. Through September 30, 2022, the act allows income-restricted (“restricted”) units in an IHD to count toward a moratorium and applies the existing point schedule to them (see Table 1). An IHD is a residential or mixed-use development located within an IHZ in which at least 20% of the units are restricted for at least 30 years. (CGS 8-30g generally requires units to be deed-restricted for at least 40 years.)

Bonus HUE Points. Under existing law, certain rental family units in set-aside developments are eligible for bonus HUE points. Bonus points are awarded in addition to the base HUE points a unit receives.

Through September 30, 2022, the act makes three additional categories of units eligible for bonus HUE points, as shown in Table 3.

Table 3: Bonus HUE Points

Unit Type

Bonus HUE Point Value (per unit)

Prior Law

Act

Owned or rented restricted family units in an IHD

No bonus

0.25 bonus

Owned or rented restricted family units with at least three bedrooms

No bonus

0.25 bonus

Owned or rented restricted elderly units, if at least 60% of restricted units used toward the moratorium are family units

No bonus

0.50 bonus

Rental family units in a set-aside development, if the developer applied for local approval before July 6, 1995

Bonus equal to 22% of the total points awarded to such development

No change

MUNICIPAL PLANNING REQUIREMENT

The act requires each municipality (regardless of whether it is exempt from the procedure), at least once every five years, to prepare or amend and adopt an affordable housing plan. The plan must specify how the municipality will increase the number of affordable housing developments in its jurisdiction. The act does not specify which municipal body must adopt the plan.

In preparing their plans, municipalities may hold informational meetings or organize other activities to keep residents informed. If a municipality holds a public hearing on a plan's adoption, at least 35 days before the hearing, it must (1) file a copy of the draft plan and any amendments to it in the town clerk's office and (2) post the draft on the municipality's website, if one exists. Similarly, a municipality must file any plan it adopts in the town clerk's office and post the plan on its website, if any.

Municipalities must regularly review and maintain their plans, making geographical, functional, or other amendments as needed. If a municipality does not update its plan at least once every five years, its chief elected official must submit a letter to the DOH commissioner explaining why.

DEFINITION OF MEDIAN INCOME FOR INCENTIVE HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS

The act aligns the definition of “median income” applicable to IHDs with that under the affordable housing land use appeals procedure. Under prior law, restricted units in an IHD had to be affordable to individuals earning 80% or less than the area median income (AMI). The act instead requires restricted units in an IHD to be affordable to individuals earning 80% or less of the AMI or state median income (SMI), whichever is less.

An IHZ is an overlay zone that allows developers to build, as a matter of right, high-density housing close to existing or planned infrastructure. DOH may make grants to municipalities that adopt, or are working to adopt, IHZ regulations (CGS 8-13m et seq.).

BACKGROUND

Affordable Housing Developments

Under CGS 8-30g, an “affordable housing development” means a housing development that is (1) assisted housing or (2) a set-aside development. “Assisted housing” means housing that receives government assistance to construct or rehabilitate low- and moderate-income housing, or housing occupied by individuals receiving rental assistance (e.g., “Section 8”). A “set-aside development” is a development in which, for at least 40 years after initial occupancy, at least (1) 15% of the units are deed restricted to households earning 60% or less of the AMI or SMI, whichever is less and (2) 15% of the units are deed restricted to households earning 80% or less of the AMI or SMI, whichever is less.