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Malloy taps local Democrat to lead new state agency

2013.02.14 Evonne Klein
Former Darien First Selectman Evonne Klein speaks at a Thursday press conference announcing her nomination to state office. (Contributed photo.)

HARTFORD, Conn. – A Darien woman who has been involved in Norwalk politics has been nominated by Gov. Dannel Malloy to serve as commissioner of a new state agency.

Former Darien First Selectman Evonne Klein, who served as Democrat Andy Garfunkel’s campaign manager during the early months of his 2011 bid to unseat Republican Mayor Richard Moccia, is Malloy’s choice to lead the state’s Department of Housing, according to a press release.

The agency will provide a coordinated and comprehensive approach to Connecticut’s housing policies and programs by consolidating the existing housing functions of several state agencies into once centralized office, the release said.

Malloy has made “an historic investment” in the state’s affordable housing stock since being elected to office, the release said. That includes $200 million for affordable housing for seniors, young professionals, working families and other residents. For the upcoming biennial budget, Malloy has proposed investing an additional $221 million to continue these efforts.

“Affordable housing is integral to driving economic development and growing jobs in our state,” Malloy said in the release.  “When we invest in housing, we invest in people, communities and our economic future.  We invest in our cities, and make them better places to live and work.  Stable housing affects the quality of our neighborhoods, the education of our kids, the health of our citizens and the opportunity for individuals and families to live in thriving communities.  It is the right thing to do for our residents and the smart thing to do for our future.”

Klein served as first selectman of Darien from 2003 to 2009, leading efforts to expand affordable housing in the town, including the development of an affordable housing plan and zoning regulations to increase the stock of affordable housing, the release said. Klein is currently employed as an engage life director with Atria Senior Living.

“I am honored to be nominated by the governor for this position,” Klein said in the release. “Through the creation of the Department of Housing, we now have the ability to better meet our housing needs across the state.”

Legislation signed into law in 2012 established the Department of Housing as the lead agency for housing-related matters in the state, the release said.  The department will be responsible for providing centralized leadership and a comprehensive approach to eliminating homelessness and meeting the housing needs of low and moderate-income individuals, families and communities in Connecticut.

Existing state housing programs from the Department of Economic & Community Development, the Department of Social Services, the Office of Policy & Management, and the Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services will be transferred into the Department of Housing in the consolidation.

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