Gov. Dannel P. Malloy nominated the former first selectwoman of one of the wealthiest towns in Connecticut and perhaps the entire country Thursday to lead the newly-created state Department of Housing.
Former Darien First Selectwoman Evonne Klein was introduced as the new Housing Commissioner at a press conference Thursday.
The Housing Department she will head was created by a bill last year and will implement Malloy’s affordable housing agenda. Malloy has asked the legislature to borrow about $30 million a year over the next 10 years to support the construction and rehabilitation of supportive and affordable housing.
From 2003 to 2009, Klein served as First Selectwoman of Darien, an affluent town in Fairfield County. During a press conference outside Malloy’s office at the state Capitol, she was asked how her experience leading the town would prepare her to tackle pressing issues like the lack of affordable housing in Connecticut.
She said there’s a need for affordable housing in wealthy communities, too.
“Under my administration, one of our priorities was to increase our affordable housing stock because our goals were to keep our seniors in the town that they love,” Klein said. “We wanted to attract our children to come back and live in their own homes as they embark on their professional careers.”
According to data from the Department of Community and Economic Development, about 2.62 percent of Darien’s housing stock is considered affordable.
Klein said Darien took up a number of affordable housing initiatives under her leadership.
Towns outside of urban areas are often reluctant to allow plans for affordable housing to move forward.
Last year only 29 of state’s 169 cities and towns had an affordable housing stock of 10 percent or more, according to the Partnership for Strong Communities.
Malloy said an increase in available affordable housing would be an economic driver for the state. He said it was a top priority for him when he was mayor of Stamford.
The governor said Klein was a good fit as the department’s new commissioner.
“She will serve as a strong advocate of ensuring that our state has the quality affordable housing that will drive economic growth and make Connecticut a more vibrant place to work and live for our seniors, our working families, young professionals, and other residents,” he said.
Klein will still need to be confirmed by the legislature. Malloy said she will begin working as commissioner as soon as she’s confirmed with a annual salary of $120,000.