Though the state has made strides in developing affordable homes, there still isn’t enough supply in Connecticut to meet demand, according to an annual report released last week.
Many households continue to struggle to afford rent and mortgage payments, according to the Partnership for Strong Communities’ “HousingInCT2015” report.
Connecticut’s “housing wage,” or the wage needed to afford a typical two-bedroom apartment, rose to $24.29 an hour, the eighth-highest in the nation and up from $23.02 last year, according to the report.
Median monthly housing costs in Connecticut, which rose 2.5 percent to $1,371, were the sixth-highest nationwide this year, the report found. As a result, 50 percent of renters and 34 percent of homeowners statewide are “burdened” by housing costs, meaning they spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing, the report found.
“We are enormously grateful for the support of Gov. Malloy and the General Assembly, and we are proud of the amazing progress to date, but we have understandably mixed feelings about this year’s report,” Alicia Woodsby, executive director of the Partnership for Strong Communities, said in a statement.
“We need many more affordable homes in more places to meet the needs of a variety of state residents,” she said, despite the state dedicating “an historic level of resources and commitment to housing creation.”
The Hartford-based Partnership for Strong Communities is a statewide, nonprofit policy and advocacy group working to end homelessness and expand affordable housing options in the state.
In the face of lingering challenges, Connecticut has made significant progress, according to the report. In the last year, the state became the first to end chronic homelessness among veterans, for instance.
In 2014, the number of people experiencing chronic homelessness fell 10 percent, to 2,431. That figure has fallen 19 percent since 2012, according to the report. Chronic homelessness refers to those who have been continuously homeless for a year or more, or who have had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.
Also last year, 10,633 Connecticut households experienced homelessness in 2014, down 3.5 percent from 2013.
Efforts by the Malloy administration have added 7,084 units of affordable housing over the past four and half years, the report found.
Still, demand for affordable housing options continues to outpace supply.
Cities and towns don’t have enough of the most-desired housing, which is multifamily, and instead have too many single-family homes, in which interest is waning, said David Fink, policy director at the Partnership for Strong Communities.
More affordable, multifamily units – such as condominiums or rentals – would meet the demand of Baby Boomers looking to downsize as well as young families looking to make an affordable entrance into desirable towns that have good resources and schools, he said.
“Towns have to create more multifamily housing,” Fink said. “They all need much more variety in what they have. This is not just a temporary thing; the demand for multifamily housing is going to be there.”
The partnership recommends the state invest in: proven ways to end homelessness, like permanent supportive housing; creating affordable homes in high-resource cities and towns; and expanding transit-oriented development efforts to connect more people with mass transit.
In the years ahead, the state’s housing market – driven by Baby Boomers and their children, Millennials – likely will be dominated by demand for smaller, denser, more affordable homes that are close to services, within walking distance of town centers and close to mass transit, according to the report.