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Housing Report Shows Smaller Connecticut Towns Keep Out Affordable Housing

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Affordable housing has become more available in Connecticut’s cities — but not as much in small towns, according to a report on nearly two decades of housing data in the state.

A housing advocacy group called The Partnership for Strong Communities looked at 19 years of state data to see how availability has changed over the long term.

Sean Ghio said about 30 municipalities — out of 169 — make up most of the new affordable housing. They’re mostly big cities like Bridgeport and Hartford that already had most of the state’s affordable housing 20 years ago.

“So they’re the communities that a lot of people anecdotally feel like that’s where you’re gonna find lower-income housing affordable to lower-income households. There are a few smaller towns that often have an industrial past in them, and there’s a very high overlap with distressed municipalities,” Ghio said.

Ghio found housing that costs 30% or less of a resident’s income is concentrated in lower-income areas. Decades of pushback from wealthy residents has kept affordable housing out of smaller towns.

“When you have this nonstop resistance, it’s very difficult to see how you expand housing opportunities, housing choices, different types of housing in communities that are actively trying to stop it,” Ghio said.

Ghio said the study shows the importance of government assistance in affordable housing. That includes things like public housing and vouchers.

“I think we have to ensure that people who have these vouchers have the ability to live where they choose. I think it can be difficult to do that,” Ghio said.

Ghio said he wants to update the study with new state data every year to track how affordable housing availability changes in the future.

“We suffer as a state if we continue to prevent people from living affordably. So many opportunities in their lives, from education to -- expensive rentals ultimately prevent homeowners from being created,” Ghio said.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.