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Seen and Heard in Norwalk: Affordable housing argument

Zoning
Norwalk Zoning Commissioner Emily Wilson, left, reacts as Zoning Commissioner Nate Sumpter, right, questions Ela Lagasse of Belpointe Capital about the placement of affordable housing units in the Waypointe development at Monday’s Plan Review Committee meeting.

NORWALK, Conn. – Here are some items of interest that were seen or heard recently in Norwalk:

An argument over affordable housing in Norwalk led to an uncomfortable back-and-forth between commissioners at Monday’s Plan Review Committee meeting.

The exchange came after Zoning Commissioner Nate Sumpter began grilling a developer’s representative about what he saw as a sticking point.

Ela Lagasse of Belpointe Capital, developer of the Waypointe project at 515 West Ave., was there to request approval for 21 additional apartments in the development. Two of those would be affordable housing units, making a total of 37 in the resultant 362-unit building.

The problem for Sumpter: Lagasse said none of the affordable units would face West Avenue.

“Is that kind of like the back of the building? Versus West Avenue, which is the front,” he said.

Four other zoning commissioners eventually joined this discussion.

Lagasse said the building’s courtyard was actually the main amenity, that some of the apartments facing West Avenue would carry premium prices because they come with lofts. Some of them have bigger windows, which developers think may make them marketable for a higher rent, she said.

“You’re saying the workforce housing people aren’t eligible, or they don’t have your premium units? Although this commission, and not just this commission, but others, approved dispersing them through the building?” Sumpter said.

Lagasse said she had supported affordable housing units for years, that she thought it was fantastic, that she had seen hundreds of people come in and enjoy the same amenities as other renters, which in this case meant granite countertops and stainless steel appliances.

Sumpter asked her how the affordable housing units were subsidized. How does the developer get the difference in rent, he asked. Who pays it?

That’s when commission Chairman Joe Santo decided to jump in.

“They are not subsidized. They’re paying less rent,” he said.

“Excuse me Joe,“ Sumpter said.

“Well, you’re wrong. You don’t understand it,” Santo said.

Champions
Seen in Orlando: The Norwalk Packers U13 cheerleaders won first place in a national competition Saturday.

“Can I have her answer the question?” Sumpter said.

“You’re wrong,” Santo said.

“Don’t tell me what to understand. I am asking her to answer a question,” Sumpter said.

Santo and Commissioner Jill Jacobsen asked Sumpter why he wanted affordable units on the front.

“Why shouldn’t they be disbursed like every other person?” he said.

They are, several people said.

“They’re not! They’re not on the front,” he said.

“I don’t get it,” Santo said.

“Of course you don’t get it Joe, you never get it,” Sumpter said. “I’m not asking you, I’m asking the people that own the building.”

Commissioner Linda Kruk attempted to mediate, but Sumpter was having none of it.

“Linda, way before you came on this commission, the question that I am asking of Waypointe is the same question I asked on a different development. It has nothing … it was explained before that in any of the developments that they were going to be dispersed,” Sumpter said.

Santo said he couldn’t understand why Sumpter would want the affordable units out front, on a noisy street.

“Joe, you go to the back,” Sumpter said. “I don’t like the back. I never did and I never will …”

“You’re way offline,” Santo said.

“What I am saying is the frontal part of the building, if it’s great for you, then it should be great for workforce housing people,” Sumpter said.

“There is nothing in the regulations that gives us the authority to tell the owner where to put these units,” Commissioner James White said. “Whether we like it or not there’s nothing in there.”

Santo moved to stop the argument and called for a vote, although he is not the chairman of the three-member committee. Chairwoman Jill Jacobsen made a motion that the commission not require the developer to move the affordable housing units. White voted for that. Commissioner Mike Mushak, who had been silent, voted against it.

At Wednesday’s full Zoning Commission meeting, the application was approved, leaving the apartments where the developer had designed them.

What was that again?

Diane Cece confronted Director of Public Works Hal Alvord after a recent public hearing on whether Norwalk’s sewage treatment plant should have its permit renewed.

Cece said she had overheard Alvord say something as Mary Therese “Missy” Conrad was testifying. Conrad was upset about an editorial written by Common Councilman David McCarthy (R-District E), published in The Hour, which took the environmental activist who requested the hearing to task.

As she was speaking, Cece said, Alvord said something to the effect of “You haven’t seen anything yet.”

“I wanted to know what you meant by that?” she said to Alvord. “What does that mean?”

Alvord stared at her.

Cece started up again. “I don’t know if that was in relationship to something Missy said, or a public official’s comment.”

After 20 seconds of soulful staring at Cece, Alvord said, “I don’t recall, Diane. I don’t recall.”

Later that night she said by email that she had caught Alvord’s comment on a recording she had made of the entire meeting.

Last week she allowed NancyOnNorwalk to listen to the recording.

Just as Conrad is saying, “That a public official would write such a letter – a person who is in charge of our Public Works Committee of our Common Council,” you can barely hear Alvord say, “You ain’t heard nothing yet.”

Asked about it Friday, Alvord said he really didn’t remember the comment or what it was about.

Heady thoughts 

The sewage treatment plant has a new headworks, Alvord said before the hearing, in defending its merits.

A headworks, it turns out, is the primary process in treating sewage. It’s basically a filter, stopping large items from getting into the system.

The question, “What have you found in the headworks?” prompted laughter among a small group standing with Alvord after the hearing.

“You can’t imagine,” one person said.

Alvord mentioned bowling balls.

“We found two-by-fours in Darien,” Water Pollution Control Authority board chairman Darren Oustafine said. “how do you get a two-by-four – ?

“You put it in a manhole that has a pipe that’s like 24-, 36-, 48-inch diameter pipes,” Alvord said. “… somebody lifts the manhole cover and throws something in there.”

“A hundred fifty pounds to lift the lid off,” Oustafine said. “But somebody did it, stuck a two-by-four in there.”

“We have concrete, people who dump oil, antifreeze … paint, cement,” Alvord said. “It’s amazing what people throw in there. It’s crazy.”

A building permit

Norwalk 121413 003
Seen in Norwalk: A sold home. Josh Overbay bought 8 Flicker Lane from David and Priscilla McAughan for $1.5 million, according to records at the town clerk’s office. Papers were passed Thursday.

SoNo Ironworks, the large building formerly known as 20 North Water St. being constructed on the corner of Washington Street and North Water Street, apparently has another business lined up to occupy its ground floor. Harlan SoNo pulled a permit Wednesday, declaring a value of $600,000 and paying a fee of $9,166.

The Connecticut Secretary of State reports that Harlan SoNo is owned by Forstone Capital. The company also owns Harlan Social in Stamford, an upscale restaurant/bar.

Random acts of kindness

Long before she was Republican registrar, Karen Doyle Lyons ran a day care. Now she has about 100 “grandchildren,” she said.

One of them was Michael Ness, who died in August at age 22 after being severely burned in a fire on Pettom Road.

Lyons said the family is now distributing business cards with Ness’s photo on them and words suggesting that it might be a good idea to perform random acts of kindness.

Lyons said that’s what she is doing, especially because it is Christmas.

“Do it in memory of someone you love or just because,” she said. “It not only makes them feel good but it makes you feel better.”

photo 1
A news story about a theft from the Toys for Tots box in City Hall resulted in a uptick of donations, Karen Doyle Lyons said. “This is thrilling. It really warms our heart. It’s something sad, and kindness out of it.” Lyons said police had identified the women who took the toys out of the box with the surveillance video footage she found. They’re not going to be arrested but were instead reprimanded, she said.

 

Comments

30 responses to “Seen and Heard in Norwalk: Affordable housing argument”

  1. Pay It Forward

    Random acts of kindness..
    How about having the girls participate in distributing the gifts. Giving is more rewarding than taking. Instead of just a good chewing out, how about a lesson in paying it forward?

  2. anonymous

    Sumpter needs a lesson in private enterprise. The owners of Waypointe will be renting 37 units below market rate, forever. That’s not enough. He wants them to rent prime units at below market rates too. There will be 37 people jumping at the chance to rent in Waypointe cheaper than everybody else who will be paying full price.

    His reference to ‘the back’ is race baiting and has no place in this discussion. Affordable housing does not mean housing for any particular race, ethic group, religious group and so on. Affordable housing is about socio-economics.

  3. Suzanne

    Arguments of this nature can easily become neutral discussions of content and fact IF people show respect to one another, let each participant have their say without interruption and agree to disagree based on facts and process. Instead, our dear commissioners insist on disrespect, interruptions, spats, etc. I mean, really. Go back to school, as in elementary school, and see how children are taught to discuss things about which they disagree. There is childishness here but none of the rules of good conduct taught to children. These people could do so much better coming to resolution without rancor. What poor examples to our residents in conducting good governance.

  4. Don’t Panic

    Could the current workforce housing reg be posted. I thought it already had a requirement that the units be dispersed throughout the project, like Mr. Sumpter is requesting.
    .
    It is kind of double-talk to suggest that the courtyard is prime while suggesting Street side will get higher rents. The purpose of workforce housing is to have mixed community

  5. tired of negative b.s.

    I agree with don’t panic, and I feel Joe Santo was out of line. I AM SO TIRED of commissioers who sit on these boards and say yes and vote fir items they dont know about merely because it doesnt affect them. Stop voting yes, read and research these articles, remember your lice as you know it can change, and you may have to utilize and or abide by the same rules you make or vote in!

  6. tired of negative b.s.

    Your life

  7. anonymous

    Sumpter was out of line. He was race baiting, that sets people off. Just stop it already, it’s exhausting. Cheaper units get less prime locations. It’s basic economics. People have a Choice to rent there or not if they don’t like the location of the unit. They can pay full price somewhere else.

  8. Diane C2

    here is link to the current Workforce Housing regulation:

    http://www.norwalkct.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/363

  9. Oldtimer

    Commissioner Sumpter asked a legitimate question that could have been answered very simply if others hadn’t jumped in. What is the problem with letting the building owner’s agent answer a question ? Doesn’t Commissioner Santo understand the message he, and others, were sending ? Their jumping in where there was no need gives the public a sense that some kind of “fix” is in and they were trying to protect it or, worse yet, were afraid the builder’s agent would reveal something they wanted kept secret.

  10. Oldtimer

    Alvord has been trying to discredit Ms Lauricella for a long time, rather than deal with questions she raises. He really doesn’t like dealing with questions from anyone who knows what they are talking about. He should follow Hasselkamp out the door and let Mayor Rilling find somebody he can trust to fill Alvord’s position.

  11. anonymous

    @Dianec2 nice link. Sumpter needed to do his homework and read the code you shared. Answer to Sumptner question was in there.

  12. Oldtimer

    Even if an answer to commissioner Sumpter’s question could be found in the regulations, that does not excuse the bad manners of the people who jumped in to prevent the owner’s agent from giving the answer from their perspective, and making it sound like there was something to hide.

  13. anonymous

    Agent did give the answer when saying all amenities are alike. Sumpter was race baiting.

  14. dlauricella

    Another good discussion!
    What I and others observed that night represents a continuation of attitudes towards the public’s rights and controversial applications like BJs, the Gaut Oil Tank Farm, Norden/Spinnaker, Lowe’s, Costco, Fodor Farm,etc.).

    In the business world, the CEO’s attitude trickles down to to others concerning how people are treated and issues are handled. While several longtime appointees got the wrong message and most appointees are respectful, this continued behavior sends a chill throughout both the public and the business sector…especially those that don’t have uber political connections.
    This attitude must stop. Training is needed! The staff should teach commissioners how to handle these matters as should the Corp. Counsel office, since failure to make a proper, fair record could hurt decisions.

    What I observed that night deserved a lesson in civility of commission and staff, especially in the behavior of current Commission Chair Santo (disrespectful interuptions, eye rolling), recent former Zoning Chair Emily Wilson (smirking when Nate was trying to ask questions), longtime Commissioner White (interupts with a glare), Committee Chairwoman Jill Robertson (failing to control the interruptions and demand a civil discussion).
    One matter that has been observed for years, going back at least as far as the Esposito-era Zoning Commissioners and Chair ( which coincidentally includes Mars. Santo, White,the “godfathers of the big box era”; former Zoning Chair Ernie Desrochers) being less than civil when they sometimes attack lay public in the middle of public hearings or discourage public when we observe Commissioners act so disrespectfully. Nate started getting prickly, but who wouldn’t when you have others constantly interrupting and making faces?

    It goes both ways but in the last 8 years seemed more than coincidental that certain Moccia appointees with their philosophy about govt. seemed intent upon discrediting and beating down Commissioners who differed in their opinion and did not just sit there like a band of bobbleheads.

  15. anonymous

    @ lauricella decent argument except excused someone he/she agrees with for doing the same thing as those he/she doesn’t agree with. Sumpter was prickly and rude, others became prickly.

    One only has to read this blog to understand why Stamford has all the growth and Norwalk gets ugatz. This town can’t even give away a give away like affordable housing without finding something to complain about.

    Norwalk taxpayers pay for affordable housing subsidized by building owners through lower property evaluations, lower taxes.

  16. Don’t Panic

    Additional standards.
    (1)Workforce Housing Affordability Plan: Workforce housing units shall be reasonably dispersed throughout the development and shall contain, on average, the same number of bedrooms and the same quality of construction as the other units in the development, as detailed in an Affordability Plan submitted by the applicant. Such plan may allow for equity sharing.
    .
    So the reg DOES require for “reasonable dispersal” and Mr. Sumpter was questioning whether putting all of the units on the courtyard side met that standard. I’d say, regardless of tone, he was doing his job.
    .
    Why the developer thinks the standard is met is unclear.

  17. Diane C2

    @anonymous (and Don’t Panic thanks for pointing out the specific language to him/her) –
    The units must be reasonably dispersed. Putting all the units on one side or the other would not meet this requirement. I think anyone reading the regulation would side with Commissioner Sumpter on this one.

  18. dlauricella

    FYI.
    Atty. Margaret Suib, Norwalk’s Fair Housing Officer, should be requested to educate the staff and all land use commissioners!
    After the 20 Water Street debacle, she cited several great examples of case law and is an underutilized resource!

    As for Nate’s behavior that was observed, his questions were direct because he had been given the runaround for years. So if his style was a bit too rough for your liking, remember it was much more calm and productive that the Chairman’s public insults….which makes it hard to concentrate, by design.
    Don’ t again “kill the messenger” . Do you have any problem with the Zoning Commissioner Chairs’ comments, faces or duty to be civil and take back control to make sure Commissioners were able to ask questions and discusscimpirtant issues of the day without fear of attack? Just askin’.

  19. Diane C2

    @DLauricella – appreciate your pointing out the usual antics of some of the commissioners, but honestly, two wrongs don’t make a right, so while you are offering up an explanation for Commissioner Sumpter’s behavior, let’s not use it as an excuse. It’s easy being civil when everyone is singing kumbaya, but takes better character to keep cool and respectful under fire. All city appointees should be required to have that ability. Doesn’t mean folks have to be any less passionate about their contribution, just have to be respectful and professional.
    (I often leave Zoning meetings shaking my head, wondering what the newcomers and out-of-towners must think of the shenanigans – as for me, well, I’ve been bringing my popcorn for the good theatre: part drama, part comedy, part reality TV show….)

  20. Mike Mushak

    This was a matter of perception, and the perception was, according to staff in a letter to the applicant, that the affordable units were NOT reasonably dispersed because there were none in the front of the building. Mr. Sumpter was responding to staff’s concerns, and admittedly got a bit testy when the developer’s representative waved her hand over the floor plan and said there were some over here and some over there without getting specific. The other commissioners, spawned by Santo’s response to Sumpter, quickly escalated into a nasty conversation that I didn’t want to enter as it was futile to argue with a childish and angry pack mentality that sadly defines so much debate on the commission, mostly due to the constantly repeating chair positions that never change from year to year, strange as that is.
    .
    The real issue here is that the business community including multi-national corporations look at the availability of affordable housing in communities they seek to relocate to or expand in, as it helps their bottom line to attract the best staff and to know their employees can afford to live nearby. It is absolutely in the best interest of any developer building a mixed use project with office and retail space to invest in building affordable housing to help fill their project and add to the overall health of the community which directly affects the success of their own project.
    .
    “Anonymous” above can surely find no evidence that a project with affordable units is paid for by Norwalk taxpayers in lower property taxes for the project. Property values are not based on rents paid for the units but on the value of the building and the land. Our tax assessor can confirm this. This is clearly a desperate argument.
    .
    Here is a 12 minute video that explains how important this issue of affordable housing is to our collective future as it relates directly to CT cities: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmW2eiRzFoo#t=15

    If Norwalk wishes to become a healthier and more sustainable community through its land-use regulations, and remain attractive to businesses (which stabilizes our tax base and takes the burden off of homeowners and renters)it must make a priority the availability and construction of affordable housing.
    .
    Unfortunately, there are some key city staff and members of our Common Council and the Planning and Zoning Commissions that have an obsolete knee-jerk antagonism towards affordable housing in general, and do not understand that availability of affordable housing provides greater returns to investors as well as improvements to quality of life.
    .
    It is economics 101: if folks are spending too much of their income on housing costs, they spend less on other items at local businesses including restaurants and stores, have less free time to exercise and maintain healthier lifestyles as they often have to work 2 jobs, and often choose to live elsewhere where housing is more affordable adding to gridlock on the highways, making lower Fairfield County one of the worst areas for traffic jams in the nation.

    Here is a good overview of what healthier communities mean to all of us, which includes plenty of housing and transportation choices: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=HM9lpyn-X2M

    Our Workforce Housing regulation is a step in the right direction but it still has flaws that need to be corrected. Mr. Sumpter did not need to be attacked by the GOP Commissioners for inquiring about staff’s concern that the units were not “reasonably dispersed”. I voted against the committee opinion but ended up voting for the change in the full Commmission because I want Waypointe to succeed, I supported the extra units with the expansion of the project which is what the change was all about in the first place, and Sumpter made a point that will likely stick in future developments even if this issue was not resolved at Waypointe. It would have been so easy for Waypointe officials to just say they would add a unit or two in the front to improve the “perception” that the affordable units were reasonably dispersed. They chose not to and the regulations are not specific enough to demand it, so that settled that, but it could have easily ended differently.

  21. LWitherspoon

    @Mike Mushak
    Surely the value of the building is lower if it includes 37 units that must be rented below market value in perpetuity. If the value of the building is lower, the City collects less in property taxes than it otherwise would. Either way, the people who live there need services, so the cost for those services falls more on everyone else.

  22. M Allen

    Norwalk is the affordable housing of Fairfield County. And as for Economics 101 telling you that “if folks are spending too much of their income on housing costs, they spend less…” that also applies to taxes for we homeowners. But it does make me laugh that we’re talking about “:workforce housing” being so dispersed that it requires equality with the full-price rental units. They get a penthouse too?

  23. M Allen

    @LW – Absolutely right. They do need services. It’s why we really need to ask ourselves how many apartment buildings we really want to build. How much do they use in terms of city services versus how much they pay into the kitty

  24. Mike Mushak

    LWitherspoon, the Tax Aassessor does not look at my income when determining the value of my home, only the actual building and the land, and neither does it look at a landlord’s income when determining the value of a building for tax purposes. The value of a building will not change when 10 % of its units are pulling in lower rent. The value in the marketplace is another issue, and until Waypointe is sold to another owner, that market value will not be unknown.
    .
    Your point about services is valid and of course the building will be paying a much larger property tax then what was there previously, off-setting that cost. Most of the new residents will not have children burdening the schools, as many studies show this kind of building attracts more empty-nesters and single millennials rather than families with children who prefer more suburban locations, and you must also consider the local economic activity generated by each and every new resident. This last number is very important, as everyone has to pay rent, furnish their apartment, eat, get around, entertain themselves, and buy clothes and services. I have read that one average middle-income downtown resident generates up to $60,000/year in local economic activity, which is staggering in its implication for the local economy. All this needs to be weighed in when determining the cost to services of new residents, and most experts agree it is a net gain for the community or cities would not be building more density all over the country as they are currently doing.
    .
    What Norwalk needs to be conscious of is that we are competing with many other cities in the region for a limited number of new residences and businesses,which is not an infinite number by any means as there are not a whole lot of new jobs being generated here. In order for Norwalk to remain competative, with millennials and older folks especially (18-34 year olds, and retirees and empty nesters) who may want to move here as is happening to downtowns around the country as we speak, is to concentrate on becoming a more vibrant bike-friendly community and less car-dependent as all indicators are showing less car ownership and more use of bikes and mass transit especially here in lower Fairfield County, shown here in this article: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Fairfield-County-drivers-choosing-public-5043042.php
    .
    To pretend like so many long-time city staff do who are not open to change, that we can continue to live like we have in the car-oriented past and ignore all of the studies and statistics, is to jeopardize the future success of many of these new projects. We cannot gamble that if we just build it they will come, but we have to actively plan our city to respond to the new trends. I am confident that the new administration will understand these issues far better than the last administration did.

  25. anonymous

    @Mushak we agree on Norwalk needing to be less car oriented, grow it’s downtown, have more places for old and young folk to live and that Waypointe is a good thing.

    Let’s part company in the economics of it, which you allude to, when sold, the market value of Waypointe will be affected by the affordable housing part. The taxpayers absorb some of that loss.

    You’re good at links. Put a link that shows what our neighboring towns affordable housing stock is and then explain why something so wonderful isn’t happening there.

    Builders have to sue in Wilton and such places to build affordable units and the attraction for builders like Avalon is not affordable housing, it’s building apartments. They know that if they add affordable housing to their plans, they can increase density too and when the town gives grief, they can go to court and win.

  26. M Allen

    The question isn’t whether we should have some “affordable housing” but how much. Fairfield County is the bedroom community of Manhattan. At what point is Norwalk the “affordable housing” community of lower Fairfield County? And what does that mean for taxes, services, etc. Mike, I agree that density isn’t always a problem and that the trickle down economic benefit is perhaps even more than what you stated. But that isn’t from the “affordable” crowd. Its from the people paying full freight for a nice apartment building.

  27. Bill

    Mushak, we all agree on more density and less cars, but why should we subsidize the rents of the gardeners, construction workers, and maids of darien, westport, and wilton? No thanks, let the free market rule.

  28. SilverminerThe

    Workforce housing is vastly different from low income housing and it’s inclusion in any project better guarantees a diverse living community. Apples and oranges. Our police, firemen and teachers are not maids. Their education and community involvement levels are generally quite different as well.

  29. Mike Mushak

    The current workforce housing regulation defines “affordable” as 80% of the state median income. The 80% level is currently at about $43,000 for single household, $70,000 for 2 person households, $87,000 for 3 person households, and $82,000 for 4 person households. I know a lot of folks who fall into this category,(myself included in occasional down years for my business), and I do not think of myself or folks I know at this level as “low income”.
    .

    In a very wealthy state like CT, these numbers are skewed of course, but the idea that “affordable” or “workforce” housing is for poverty level folks is inaccurate, as the poverty level is about $11,000 for singles and $15,000 for 4 person households. There is no way anyone at poverty level could afford the rents we are talking about in these new buildings at our “workforce” level, and there are other options for these folks, limited as they may be. This explains I think some of the animosity among many folks to “affordable housing”, as they think it is building housing projects only. Misperception is unfortunately a big part of the problem in having healthy debates about this issue.
    .
    The Norwalk-Stamford Metro Area has the 3rd highest rental housing costs in the nation, after Hawaii and San Francisco, but higher than New York City and Westchester Counties that are 9th and 10th on the list of most expensive areas to live. To afford an average two bedroom apartment, a worker needs to make $31/hour. The minimum wage is $8.25/hour.
    .
    This is a complicated issue with no easy answers, and last year teh Zoning Commission which I serve on began a process of requesting feedback from all stakeholders including housing advocates and developers as well as many professionals in the field, to begin revising and updating our Workforce Housing Regulation to improve it’s efficacy and fairness.
    .
    Much good feedback was received, but Mayor Moccia surprised everyone last summer by not re-appointing the one person who was most involved in this process, Adam Blank. His reason was he wanted “fresh blood” on the Commission, a strange reason being that Mr. Blank was actively involved in solving so many of our problems with our obsolete zoning code and regulations (including revising our obsolete parking requirements that push housing costs much higher, as studies show up to $250/month per apartment in increased rental rates over apartments in buildings with the lower parking requirements that progressive smart cities have adopted and a 2012 study recommended Norwalk implement immediately).
    .
    I intend on requesting action on these items from the current Zoning Commission leadership asap, to spur smart development including affordable housing that will not be so costly to build as it is now, and I look forward to support from the Common Council, Mayor Rilling, and the public including developers in moving forward on these issues. We simply can’t afford to wait any longer, and in the long run, we will all benefit from a higher tax base and more affordable housing choices as the supply increases especially in our transit-oriented districts and in the downtown corridor where folks will not not need to drive as much to get around as they do now (hence the reduced parking requirements as the 2012 study recommended.)
    .

  30. Mike Mushak

    Correction to my 80% of State Median Income, to qualify for “affordable” housing under Norwalk regulations listed in 1st paragragh above (approximate numbers as it changes frequently):
    .
    One person household: $43,000 (poverty level is 11,000)
    Two person household: $56,000 (poverty level is 15,000)
    Three person household: $70,000 (poverty level is 19,000)
    Four person household: $82,000 (poverty level is 23,000)

    My point was that these are NOT poverty level incomes to qualify for workforce or affordable housing, which is a common misperception of affordable housing opponents. No one at poverty level would be able to live in any of these new developments. There are other options for these folks in Norwalk, highly regulated by the Norwalk Housing Authority including Section 8 vouchers.

    To qualify for affordable housing, a single individual would need to make no more than $43,000, or $20.60/hour at a 40 hour/week job. Being that the state median income for a single individual is $53,000, that means half of state workers make less than that and half make more. That is a huge population that gets on our crowded highways every day to go to work from more affordable housing markets to less affordable, where most of the jobs are, making it harder for businesses to find qualified lower paid workers in this area, a factor in decision-making by companies who are seeking to relocate or expand here. As I said, it is a complicated issue but we need to address it as a city and not avoid it, or our future will be seriously affected.

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