Sen. Rob Sampson, R-Wolcott. Credit: Courtesy of CT-N

The Housing Committee voted Thursday in favor of a bill that seeks to address a wide variety of issues from eviction proceedings to increasing affordable housing in the state. 

“Look, we all want to see workforce housing be developed,” Sen. Rob Sampson, R-Wolcott, who voted against the measure, said. 

He said he doesn’t believe this bill, which is the vehicle to make it happen, should be weighed down with this dispute between landlords and tenants in Connecticut. Sampson and most of the Republicans on the committee said if Connecticut is interested in solving the affordable housing crisis then it will work with both landlords and tenants to resolve the issue “not further enraging or ginning up either side in an effort to cause a dispute between them.” 

a green button that says support and red button that says oppose

The revised bill passed by the committee Thursday would create a three-month moratorium against evictions during the winter months. It didn’t include a 4% rent cap, which is part of another piece of legislation the committee has been debating and which prompted more than 18 hours of testimony. 

Rep. Joe Polletta, R-Watertown, cautioned the committee from stepping in and interfering with the relationship between a landlord and a tenant. He said creating a period where a landlord can’t evict a tenant is only going to raise prices because a landlord won’t be able to predict whether they’re going to have to go without income for three months. 

“I think the winter moratorium will actually impact individuals looking for affordable housing,” Polletta said. 

Rep. Joe Zullo, R-East Haven, said that he handles evictions and even if a tenant is served with an eviction notice in August and then makes it to court in September, it could be another few months before they get an execution and then if the winter moratorium goes into effect that landlord has seven to eight months without any income on the unit.

“We don’t want landlords losing their property,” Zullo said. “We need to strike some kind of balance here.” 

Sen. John Fonfara, D-Hartford, said giving tenants market power by allowing for the creation of more units is what is needed. However, the market is going to “protect landlords far better than government will, but government needs to step in because there is an imbalance in the market.” 

Everyone seems to agree that Connecticut needs more housing units, but how much pressure the government can put on the free market to make that happen has created widespread tension among lawmakers and the public. 

Lawmakers on the committee said they were open to working on the bill in a bipartisan manner. 

Among other things, the bill also provides tax credits for workforce housing opportunities and allows municipalities to exempt workforce housing from property taxes. The bill also creates a pilot program to provide temporary housing for people experiencing homelessness and veterans who need respite care.