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February 9, 2023

Gov. Lamont proposes $600M for affordable housing, tying it to fair economic growth

STEPHEN BUSEMEYER / CT MIRROR Gov. Ned Lamont addressing the joint House and Senate on Feb. 8

Gov. Ned Lamont plans to nearly double the state’s investment in affordable housing development, raising it to $600 million in the coming two-year state budget, according to documents released Wednesday.

Lamont unveiled his $50.5 billion two-year budget proposal Wednesday in a speech focused on economic growth that benefits a wider range of incomes. That speech carried a heavy focus on meeting growing housing needs, as well as investing in education, workforce training, child care and tax cuts aimed at lower-income households.

The Connecticut Business & Industry Association and others have highlighted Connecticut’s fast-rising cost of housing as a challenge to worker recruitment and filling approximately 100,000 open jobs in the state. Housing advocates are trying to coordinate with industry leaders on a joint push for affordable housing investments on redeveloped industrial sites and near mass transit.

“Millions of dollars for workforce training will go to naught if we don’t have enough housing where workers can afford to live,” Lamont said during his address to the General Assembly. “For the first time in a very long time, more and more young families are moving to Connecticut. Last year we built more market rate and affordable housing than any time this century, yet we are still desperately short of housing. Having just climbed out of a fiscal crisis, I don't want to fall into a housing crisis.”

Lamont’s budget aims to incentivize developers to build 6,400 housing units in the next two years.
That spending includes $50 million annually for the Housing Trust Fund administered by the State Department of Housing. It provides loans and grants for affordable housing development.

“Time is money and the Housing Trust Fund will allow developers to move quickly, with an emphasis on multi-unit housing in downtown areas close to transportation,” Lamont said.

Lamont’s budget proposes a further $100 million annually for the Department of Housing’ FLEX program, which provides loans, grants and loan guarantees in support of affordable and mixed-income housing development.

Lamont proposes another $100 million in each budget year for “workforce development housing,” focused on households with 60% to 120% of the area median income. The governor said this funding will help build housing in downtowns of Connecticut cities.

Lamont’s budget also allocates another $50 million in each of the two coming years to the “Time-to-Own” downpayment assistance program administered by the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority.

According to a budget summary provided by the governor’s office, the program will provide forgivable down-payment assistance ranging from $18,750 to $50,000. It is expected to assist in the purchase of up to 1,250 homes each year.

Lamont also urged municipal officials to adopt “friendlier zoning and expedited approvals” to facilitate rapid addition of needed housing.

“Towns may submit their plans to facilitate housing on their terms,” Lamont said. “Doing nothing is not an acceptable strategy.”

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