CT Architects, Preservation, Rehabilitation, Community Planning, Interiors, Design, Innovation

Affordable Housing Is Not a Four Letter Word


It’s no secret the state of Connecticut has its work cut out for itself — from getting the state’s fiscal house in order, to retaining both large and small companies as businesses within the state, we still have a lot of work ahead of us. April, however, has been a great month in Connecticut, because it has highlighted the commitment the state has made to affordable housing.

I know the phrase “affordable housing” is almost considered a four letter word. No one wants an “affordable” housing complex near their house. “I don’t want ‘those people…’ living near me.” This is one of the many things I find truly funny when we attend a public hearing for a planning and zoning commission. So you don’t want young professionals, teachers, fire fighters, etc. living in your neighborhood? That’s right, many entry level folks in those professions are eligible to rent an affordable unit — which, for context, equates to between $860 and $960 per month for a one-bedroom in Hartford.

Inspiring people and transforming communities are part of our firm’s purpose statement. Good affordable housing developments do these two things. Most of these developments are actually mixed income, meaning that only a portion of the units are set aside for affordable level rents, based on the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines. This means our development clients are developing communities that are inclusive and combine multiple socio-economic levels.

Many people have a tainted view of affordable developments reminiscent of the housing authority projects of the 1950s and 1960s. We still equate these developments as “the projects,” and think that any time we hear affordable, we are going to create a new poverty stricken zone. These types of projects are actually being demolished so that we can replace them with mixed income, inclusive communities that allow diverse communities a place to live together.

So back to Connecticut…

In the United States, Connecticut has one of the best handles on the nation’s affordable housing deficit. The Department of Housing (DOH) and Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) have a great working relationship and have made applying for Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs) and DOH capital easy. That’s right, in comparison to other states, Connecticut has a process that developers find simpler! This has attracted numerous out of state real estate developers to Connecticut, which is stimulating our economy and creating affordable and mixed income housing units throughout the state.

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In April, the State announced its $23 million investment in affordable projects through the Competitive Housing Assistance for Multifamily Properties (CHAMP) program. Additionally, the state awarded $10.7 million in federal LIHTCs. These programs not only allow the development and construction of some great projects, they directly impact our economy here in Connecticut.

There are several other programs that assist and allow the development of these types to succeed. The state historic rehabilitation tax credit and the federal rehab tax credit greatly assist in closing financing gaps and allowing these projects to be truly amazing.

We are truly humbled to work with so many great partners and teammates on projects that can truly inspire people, transform communities, and preserve our cultural past.

By Chris Duprey, MS 
Director of Operations &
Business Development

2 comments

  1. phil barlow says:

    Thanks for laying this out for us. People lose track of the fact that afffrodable housing IS economic development

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