Housing Committee Hearing Provides Preview Of Affordable Housing Debate

Feb 22, 2021
Originally published on February 19, 2021 1:37 pm

Most elected officials agree that Connecticut needs more affordable housing. The Housing Committee held a hearing Thursday that offered a preview of how lawmakers intend to address the issue this session. 

The bills introduced take a statewide approach to increase affordable housing.

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker voiced his support for HB 6430, a bill that could put more affordable housing in high-opportunity areas -- those with stronger economic and educational outcomes. 

Elicker said the measure would keep towns involved in the decision-making process. “It will not take away local control or give cities power over surrounding suburbs,” he said. 

That’s the fear of attorney Timothy Herbst, who represents a group of Woodbridge residents opposed to an affordable housing application in that town. Herbst said believes the proposed state legislation and the application in Woodbridge are “triangulating a uniform agenda that seeks to strip local control of zoning.” 

State Sen. Tony Hwang observed that the Democratic solutions seem to come at the state level, while Republican fixes focus on keeping control in the hands of municipalities. 

“I think the most viable solution that we have to address this problem,” Hwang said, “is a collaboration between our state, our local municipalities and the federal government.” 

Municipalities are required to comply with state and federal law. The case in Woodbridge could end up moving the debate over affordable housing to the courts.

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