Map of U.S. Census data on multigenerational housing.

A new report found a rise in the number of multigenerational households in Connecticut, something advocates say is further evidence the state needs to address its lack of affordable housing.

The analysis, released Wednesday by the CT Data Collaborative, found approximately 1.4 million households in Connecticut of which 3.9%, or 55,526 are multigenerational. This marks an increase of about 0.3%, or 4,924 households, from the 2010 decennial census.

“I think it has to do with our housing issues and that there just isn’t enough affordable housing,” CT Data Collaborative Executive Director Michelle Riordan-Nold said.

The study compared 2010 and 2020 census data.

Multigenerational households are those that contain three or more generations of relatives — such as children, parents and grandparents — living in the same home. People related by birth, marriage or adoption are all considered family.

The collaborative found increases in each of the nine planning regions around the state, but the biggest increases were concentrated in the western and southwestern parts of the state.

Danbury had 389 additional multigenerational homes in 2020; Stamford, 316; Norwalk, 243; Stratford, 171; Bridgeport, 167; and Fairfield, 138; all ranked among the 10 municipalities with the biggest increases.

The highest concentrations of multigenerational housing, meanwhile, tend to be clustered in cities, with roughly one-fourth located in five cities. 

Bridgeport had the highest share, at 6.8% of the statewide total of 55,526 multigenerational households, while Hartford, 5.1%; Waterbury, 4.5%; New Haven, 4.3%; and Stamford, 4%, rounded out the top five. 

Riordan-Nold said she wasn’t surprised by the data because it reflects the difficulty families are having with housing costs. 

She also suspected the increase was both recent college graduates moving back home to save money and retired baby boomers moving in with their adult parents. 

The data collaborative hopes to release another analysis this month looking deeper into U.S. Census data to spot trends across age, racial and ethnic groups. 

Meanwhile, Realtors said they’re seeing this trend impact homebuyers. According to a National Association of Realtors’ 2022 analysis, 14% of homebuyers purchased a multigenerational home. 

That was up 11% from the prior year’s report. 

“I think it’s been compounded by COVID and housing prices and interest rates and everything,” Connecticut Realtors Association President-Elect Carl Lantz said. “It certainly makes economic sense for people to shake up together and split those bills if they can.” 

Many of those factors — the COVID-19 pandemic, mortgage rates spiking and a historic rise in home prices — didn’t impact the market until during or after the 2020 census, meaning the bump in multigenerational homes could be continuing. 

House Majority Leader Jason Rojas, D-East Hartford, said the trend shows that the legislature needs to find ways to increase the housing supply statewide. 

“It’s hard to get apartments, it’s really expensive to find apartments,” he said. “It’s expensive to buy a home.” 

The short-term solution, though, may simply be funding for the Department of Housing and local housing authorities.  

Lawmakers have not been able to agree on broader efforts to increase the supply of affordable housing, including attempts at zoning reform that have sparked strong pushback from suburbs. 

“I don’t know that some of the more aggressive tactics will be able to come back in the next session,” Rojas said. 

The Office of Policy and Management is currently studying one of those approaches, examining what a so-called “Fair Share” requirement would mean for each town. 

Rojas said the legislature should wait for OPM to complete the study before considering plans to force towns to build more affordable housing. 

Part of the problem is understanding what kind of housing the state needs. 

Building units that meet the traditional definitions of affordable and workforce housing would help low-and moderate-income families, as well as young professionals, rent or buy a home. 

According to NAR’s homebuyer profile, though, 21% of buyers who purchased a multigenerational home were concerned about caring for an older family member. 

Lantz said Reatlors are seeing more families live together for a variety of reasons. Grandparents can shed the costs of homeownership while also providing free-child care to working parents, for example. 

This is also putting higher demand on homes that offer additional privacy, such as an in-law apartment. 

“They’re happy to have them there, but they don’t want them to be in every aspect of their life,” Lantz said. 

Riordan-Nold agreed. CT Data Collaborative said the analysis shows policymakers need to address the problem, but she said they also likely need to rethink how the state views its housing needs. 

“I think maybe thinking about how we build housing that accommodates multigenerations,” she said.