HARTFORD — On Tuesday, February 28th, House Republican Deputy Leader Tom O’Dea (R-125) was the leading Republican voice in support of improving Connecticut’s longstanding affordable housing laws, including state statute 8-30g.
Rep. O’Dea stood with his Republican colleagues for a press conference to outline a set of legislative proposals aimed at increasing the state’s actual affordable housing stock with respect for municipal guidelines on zoning and development. Among the proposals was HB 5326, the House Republican caucus bill which was first on the agenda for a same-day public hearing in the legislature’s Housing Committee.
Immediately following the press conference, Rep. O’Dea was among the New Canaan state legislators who presented testimony and fielded questions from members of the Housing Committee during the landmark public hearing, which rallied almost 300 residents to testify.
Proposals to amend 8-30g by House Republicans, which have already garnered bipartisan support, will attack two main goals:
- Make statewide, affordable housing goals more achievable by granting municipalities more freedom to set guidelines according to their communities’ unique needs; and
- Foster an honest affordable housing development culture by incentivizing certain private and public investments in the best interest of residents and small, highly developed towns.
“8-30g is broken and it needs to be fixed,” said Rep. O’Dea. “New Canaan has doubled our affordable housing stock. We’ve renovated most of it since 2015.”
Despite that, New Canaan is still far below the 10% threshold that the existing state statute sets for deed-restricted affordable housing, opening the town to legal action from developers. The House Republican proposal, outlined by Rep. O’Dea, would include naturally occurring affordable units in the total “affordable housing” stock, as deemed by state regulations.
Rep. O’Dea maintains that the state must work with its cities and towns, not against them, by improving Connecticut’s housing laws to encourage and empower private and public development projects which incentivize affordability. When a municipality like New Canaan can fully develop their own housing project, it can enact a 100% affordability rate, as opposed to a private development which might feature 20-30% affordable units.
“This is the biggest issue facing our communities in southern Fairfield County. It can destroy our towns,” Rep. O’Dea remarked in his testimony. “Or we can embrace it on a bipartisan basis and make 8-30g better. We can do better…I assure you we will.”
Rep. O’Dea thanks all of those dedicated community members who spoke in front of the Housing Committee, submitted written testimony, and helped contribute through advocacy to furthering sensible alterations to 8-30g.
READ Rep. O’Dea’s written testimony submitted to the Housing Committee: https://www.cga.ct.gov/2023/hsgdata/tmy/2023HB-05326-R000228-Republican,%20House-House%20Republican%20Office-Supports-TMY.PDF
WATCH a press conference from Hartford outlining Rep. O’Dea’s proposals: https://youtu.be/ZQA5hVOTnSQ
REP. O’DEA’S AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROPOSALS
HB 5326 will incorporate existing properties that meet affordability standards; eliminate deed restrictions for owner-occupied affordable housing which restrict the ability to create equity; and increase municipal control by removing the deadline for opt out of the “as of right” accessory apartment requirements
HB 5783 will grant a right of first refusal to municipalities for set aside developments and to require that any municipalities exercising such right complete such developments within 8 years
HB 5784 will reduce the municipal conveyance tax remittance to the state by 10% for any affordable housing development by the municipality
HB 5785 will expand the number of units qualifying for the calculation of an affordable housing appeals moratorium
HB 5791 will enable towns that financially encourage affordable housing to meet affordable housing goals established by 8-30g
HB 5793 will require developers who submit affordable housing applications to erect placards with certain required information at the proposed development site
HB 5794 will reduce the affordable housing appeals threshold in small, highly developed municipalities
Read a press release from Rep. O’Dea here