The Day – Affordable Housing Plan Project presented to the Montville Commission

Montville — The planning department presented its draft affordable housing plan to the Planning and Zoning Commission at City Hall on Tuesday.

Connecticut’s general statutes require each city to create and submit a plan to address the shortage of affordable housing in the state.

According to a 2018 report by the Council of Southeast Connecticut Governments and the Southeastern Connecticut Housing Alliance, 46% of renters and 30% of homeowners in the region spend more than 30% of their income on housing, and 29,000 low-income regions. residents cannot pay for the accommodation they are in.

Data from the Eastern Connecticut Association of Realtors shows that the median home price in Montville rose from $229,000 in 2021 to $262,000 in 2022, an increase of $33,000, or 14.4%.

Amanda Kennedy, deputy director of the SCCOG, said in her presentation to the commission, “in Montville…the median income is $80,000 and about 46% of households earn less than $75,000.”

In Montville, 382 units, or 5%, are considered affordable because they are government or tenant subsidized, which includes subsidized apartments, social housing, and housing choice vouchers, or have mortgages of the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority or the United States Department of Agriculture, which provide mortgages with low interest rates or no down payment requirements, according to the SCCOG report and draft plan.

According to Kennedy, “there are about 30 (municipalities) in the state that “meet the minimum goal of 10% or more affordable housing and are exempt from state laws relaxing zoning approvals for housing development. affordable.

According to the draft plan, an online survey conducted by the city showed that residents surveyed support more housing options, including “starter houses” for families with young children, housing for the elderly looking to downsize, developments with some limited income and CHFA units. / USDA mortgages. Data collected by the SCCOG indicates that of the 81 respondents, half were 45 or older and half had lived in Montville for at least 20 years.

The draft plan includes a multi-pronged approach to addressing the need for affordable housing. To provide more options for elderly residents, he suggests that the Senior/Disabled Tax Relief Program could be expanded, launching a request for proposals for senior housing developments and determining if there are any. a city-owned property available for housing construction.

He offers to support first-time homeownership by raising awareness of CHFA and USDA low-interest mortgages, offering a tax refund program, and creating a down payment assistance through available funds from the American Rescue Plan Act and affordable programs from US Housing and Urban Development. housing subsidies, which could also be used to support greater diversity in the supply of affordable housing.

The diversity of affordable housing options could also be supported by allowing higher density developments in currently restricted areas, changing zoning regulations that require minimum square footage for housing, and reducing the number of parking spaces. parking required for a two to one bedroom unit. , which would allow more units to be placed on a plot of land while devoting less space to parking.

Kennedy explained that “some municipalities have started affordable housing funds and they’ve done things like fees instead of inclusionary zoning,” so instead of building affordable units, “the developer has the possibility of paying into a fund that could be used elsewhere to support other projects.

The commission decided that next steps would include a survey of current housing vacancy levels in the city to determine if any would be suitable for affordable housing, opportunities to work with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and land trusts, looking at city-owned land that is suitable for development and whether zoning regulations could be adjusted to make affordable housing development more affordable and attractive to developers.

Unanimously, the commission tabled the draft plan until its meeting on May 24. The draft plan is available on the city’s website.

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