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Affordable Housing Problems

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With house prices skyrocketing, the need for affordable housing is greater than ever. The Biden administration is aware of these issues and making early steps toward moving in the right direction. But these problems are baked into the entire housing system that of course is itself framed by racism that replicates itself in housing everyday. Your BLM sign in front of your $800,000 house won’t get you into heaven anymore.

Few states combine racism and housing prices more starkly than Connecticut. This is a good piece about these problems in the Nutmeg State.

We found that households with very low incomes (those under 30 percent of county median income) face an 86,068 unit affordable housing shortage—a gap that is present in all counties. This shortage disproportionately affects Latino and Black households in Connecticut; 27 percent of each have very low incomes, compared with 12 percent of white-headed households. And although the state’s population is expected to decrease over the next two decades, we project this will not close the housing affordability gap.

What’s more, the lack of affordable housing is also driving wide racial disparities in cost burden rates that already existed because of a history of discriminatory housing policies and land use practices.

Today, more than half of households headed by Latino and Black people in Connecticut are housing cost burdened, meaning their total housing costs (including rent, mortgage payments, taxes, and utilities) are 30 percent or more of their income, compared with less than a third of white households. More than a quarter of Latino- and Black-headed households are severely cost burdened, paying half or more of their income on housing costs.

The data in our report provide an opportunity to recalibrate the way the state deploys housing resources. They give state policymakers the ability to proactively meet the growing housing needs of communities of color with low incomes and to redress decades of housing policy and practice which have resulted in two racially and economically segregated types of communities—poor urban centers and wealthy white suburbs. With limited dollars and capacity in play, it is imperative for Connecticut to use data to allocate housing investments to areas with the greatest need.

Our analysis revealed that Connecticut’s most prolific housing programs are not adequately addressing its affordable housing shortfall. The federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program is the largest source of government support for financing affordable housing construction and preservation and currently funds slightly more than 10,000 units in the state, mostly in Fairfield County. But frontloading tax credits for private developers in exchange for units affordable at 50, 60, and 80 percent of median income does not, by itself, reach residents with the lowest incomes.

Federal housing choice vouchers and Section 8 project-based rental assistance offer the greatest assistance to households with low incomes across Connecticut (43,000 and 26,000 households, respectively), and public housing provides an additional 14,000 units (split primarily between New Haven and Fairfield Counties). Though the state-funded Moderate Rental Housing Program (about 5,400 units) and deed-restricted housing (4,900 units) make notable contributions, they don’t provide enough units or vouchers to ensure the state’s low-income population can access safe and affordable housing.

Look–Black Lives Matter. But let’s not get crazy in how much they matter, not if I have to see them except for the two that Maddie and Connor have in class to provide just right amount of diversity. And I mean, having affordable housing near my house? What about my property values!

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