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Posted on June 5, 2023
Hartford— A contentious zoning reform proposal calculating affordable housing needs was going to be mandated, but the bill narrowly approved in the early morning hours on Saturday turned it into a study. This bill was brought out shortly before midnight Friday as an amendment to an unrelated bill.
“For about two hours, I asked questions, expressed concerns, and relayed to my colleagues what was included in this bill. This has the state assessing the need for affordable housing, by town, for informational purposes. “Fair share” is the first step toward implementing a policy that would weaken local control and impose one-size-fits-all housing solutions on towns,” said Rep. Tony Scott (R-112).
Department of Housing officials did not offer testimony in support or opposition to this proposal.
“If this was so important for fair share, the department would testify. The Department is not asking or pushing for this. The process starts with the Office of Policy and Management secretary to work on the metrics for each municipality. The 50,000-foot guidance is here, and they would have wide autonomy to create mandates,” added Scott.
After OPM sets those metrics, it shall determine the minimum need for housing for each municipality.
“If the numbers are aspirational, there’s no action to it, then why do we need it? Because there will be something done with those numbers,” Scott noted.
“I worry about what will happen after that and the viability of local zoning boards or commissions. These local decisions will be made by appointed bureaucrats, unfamiliar with local needs. We’re opening the door to the next step. We don’t know what that next step is, but we know there will be a next step,” Scott continued.
There will be a number assigned to each town, and that number will be acted upon.
“It’s not part of this legislation, but it’s the first step towards that. The formula, devised by Open Communities Alliance, calculates each town’s need for additional affordable housing based on median income, poverty, multi-family housing stock and grand list,” said Scott.
The biggest piece of this bill is about Fair Share.
“With this needs assessment, we’re going to be back in 18 months to assign numbers to each of our towns. We’re also talking about relationships with tenants and housing providers in this bill. Some of the rules in here are going to be hurtful to landlords. If we’re taking housing providers out of the market because they don’t want to deal with the additional mandates, that’s going to cause a problem. This bill has put us on a path to removing rental units from the housing market,” Scott concluded.