Christine Stuart photo
Don Klepper-Smith of DataCore Partners (Christine Stuart photo )

Despite the slow down in the housing market and the foreclosure crisis, researchers have found there is still a lack of affordable housing in Connecticut.

At a press conference Wednesday morning, Don Klepper-Smith, director of research for DataCore Partners, LLC, said “Workforce housing is very, very important to Connecticut’s long-term economic health.”

He said the current housing downturn is not enough to result in an adequate supply of affordable housing that would promote economic development in the state. He said 72 percent of the jobs projected to be created between now and 2014 will pay under $40,000 a year, which is much less than it takes to buy or rent a home.

In Connecticut an individual would have to make about $75,000 a year in order to qualify for a mortgage on a $266,000 home, which is the median sales price, according to data from The Warren Group. The Connecticut Housing Coalition found that an individual would have to earn $21.11 per hour or an annual salary of $43,911 to afford a typical two-bedroom apartment in the state.

Klepper-Smith concluded in his updated report on the need for affordable housing that “Affordable housing has to be an integral part of Connecticut’s economic equation if we’re to live up to our full potential.”

Peter Gioia, an economist with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said that during his recent visits with member businesses in Fairfield County he learned there are plenty of job opportunities available. But “it’s so costly and so expensive to live in that part of the state,” that companies are having to turn to outsourcing in order to get the work done.

In places like Old Saybrook, First Selectman Michael A. Pace, said his town made a decision to support affordable housing. Why? “Because it’s the right thing to do,” Pace said. He said just like race and ethnicity it’s important for a community to have an eclectic mix of incomes. “We have to help people help themselves,” he said.

Instead of being forced to have some developer come in and take away a piece of commercial real estate to develop it into affordable housing, Old Saybrook, wants to mix affordable housing into its residential areas, Pace said.

In order to help towns like Old Saybrook come up with a strategy to build and zone affordable housing, a law passed in 2007 will allocate $4 million in planning grants to cities and towns interested in building this type of housing. William Cibes, of Home Connecticut and the Partnership for Strong Communities, said five towns have already sent in their applications to the state and Ledyard has already been awarded some of the grant money available.

For more information about the grants, contact Dimple Desai at the Office Policy and Management, 860-418-6412.