Rocky Hill, CT – May 1, 2007 – Home prices have increased more than 50% in the last five years, while wages have increased only 13%, the Connecticut Mortgage Bankers Association (CMBA) said today. How towns create affordable housing in the face of these economic tensions was the topic of discussion at today’s forum. The 4th Annual Mayors forum on Affordable Housing, sponsored by CMBA, included the mayors and first selectmen of Bridgeport, Canton, Old Saybrook and West Hartford. Also on the panel was Tim Coppage, Vice President – Housing Development of the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA).
The mayors agreed that there is a need for affordable housing, but that creating it is often challenging. For Scott Slifka, mayor of West Hartford, the challenge is that there’s no more land to develop. What development they do have is redevelopment, he said. For Bridgeport Mayor John Fabrizi, the issue was the need to balance growth with maintaining affordability, so that as the community grows in prosperity housing remains within reach of all residents.
The elected officials also highlighted their successes and techniques for creating affordable housing. Bridgeport Mayor John Fabrizi noted that of Park City’s almost 1,500 new units, over 25% are affordable. Canton’s First Selectman Mary Tomolonius described the desire for her town to build housing that would be affordable to residents who volunteer for the fire department. For Old Saybrook’s First Selectman Michael Pace, it’s about being progressive and financially responsible. He discussed land-banking strategies and construction of rental units to benefit the town’s work force.
In response to these issues, Tim Coppage described CHFA’s programs to assist towns in creating affordable housing. He noted the Pilot Suburban and Rural Affordable Housing Technical Assistance Program, which provides guidance to towns who would like to generate more affordable housing. He encouraged officials at all levels to consider new and innovative solutions to the problems of affordable housing supply. “Elected officials need to work at all the alternatives for affordable housing,” he said.
CHFA was created in 1969 by the State Legislature. CHFA’s purpose is to help alleviate the shortage of affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families and persons in Connecticut, and when appropriate, to promote or maintain the economic development of the State through employer-assisted housing efforts. CHFA is financially self-sufficient and operates without state tax revenues. Information about CHFA is available on our website at www.chfa.org or by calling (860) 721-9501.