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Tracking affordability under 8-30g’s 4 categories is unworkable

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The 8-30g statute (Connecticut’s failed Affordable Housing “builders remedy” law) allows a developer to override local zoning of height, density, and setbacks on any property if they provide 30% affordable 40-year deed restricted units. While the goal of the bill is laudable, there are too many shortcomings including the inability of most towns to ever reach the 10% affordability threshold to get relief from 8-30g. This is why only 29 of Connecticut’s 169 towns have relief. Despite numerous bills presented to address the shortcomings of 8-30g this session, the majority have yet again turned a blind eye and ignored opposition testimony provided on all bills to reform 8-30g. Planning & Development and Housing Committees have held their last meetings of this legislative session before moving bills to the floor and they did not vote any of the 8-30g reform bills to the floor. 

CT169Strong came across a 2021 Report on 8-30g created by Sean Ghio of Partnership for Strong Communities (PSC), which discussed the longitudinal changes in affordability scorekeeping through the four categories of affordable housing “counted” under 8-30g. Those categories include: government assisted housing, those receiving federal or state rental assistance, housing with either Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) mortgages and those with deed restriction.  As defined by the statute municipalities must reach over the 10% affordability “threshold” overall defined by the four categories to get “relief” from 8-30g.

The PSC report neglects to dive into what the specific percentages are by category for each municipality and to reflect that the four-category source can vary widely by town due to the lack of State and Federal support.  State funding provided for affordable development to larger distressed cities and the arbitrary granting of very large allocations of housing vouchers to limited municipalities impacts the percentage of affordable for all. These State bureaucrat decisions are simply “handed down” and are completely out of the control of municipalities.  It is also completely out of a municipality’s control if a resident of a town decides to use a CHFA loan or a USDA loan to finance a property within a town. All of these considerations and the nature of the other categories make it virtually impossible for many municipalities to achieve their 10% without any State assistance. Those grants provided from the State to promote construction of affordable development and the large voucher allocations to Hartford and New Haven are why certain larger cities have over 10% affordability and it also contributes to why they have the highest concentration of poverty in the state. 

We encourage everyone to read the 8-30g White Paper, https://bit.ly/830gWhite-Paper, which explains the fallacy of the 8-30g in further detail. We also encourage you to look at your municipality’s percent mix of the four categories under the 8-30g Tab: https://tinyurl.com/CT169Worksheets. Our conclusion, supported by the data, is that most towns cannot reach the 10% threshold without the State expanding support of affordable development to all municipalities and without more equitable voucher allocations that reflect the differences in income gaps in higher property value communities. Upon close review of the four-category method of calculation of “affordability” under 8-30g, the criteria are completely flawed and unworkable and need to be reformed.

Maria Weingarten, New Canaan

Alexis Harrison, Fairfield

Co-founders of CT169Strong

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