On February 8, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy (D) released his FY13 budget proposal, which would bring the state’s commitment to affordable housing to nearly $500 million over the next ten years and mark Connecticut’s largest housing investment in two decades. The Connecticut Housing Coalition (CHC), an NLIHC state coalition partner, and the Partnership for Strong Communities (the Partnership), an NLIHC member, have been driving forces in making affordable housing a priority issue that garners bipartisan support. The proposed budget reflects those efforts.
The plan would increase the state’s commitment to affordable and supportive housing by more than $330 million over last year’s budget. The Malloy administration also estimates that the new housing initiatives included in the two-year budget would create or retain more than 6,700 construction and related jobs. Among its highlights, the budget:
- Authorizes $30 million in bonding in FY13 as the start of a ten-year commitment of $300 million to preserve and upgrade state public housing.
- Proposes an additional $20 million for affordable housing programs, bringing the total available funding to $70 million in FY13.
- Adds $12.5 million in capital funding for the state’s elderly congregate housing program and contains $1.5 million to support an additional 150 rental assistance program vouchers for scattered site supportive housing.
This renewed support for affordable housing follows years of work by advocates to build a broader constituency base that recognizes the importance of housing in all aspects of a community’s success. In 2005, PSC began forums aimed at tying the state’s need for more affordable housing to other issues like homelessness, the education gap, disparate health outcomes, transportation challenges and young workforce retraining. The forums brought together stakeholders who have not always been a part of conversations around housing and integrated their concerns as additional evidence of the state’s need for a renewed investment in affordable housing. “We realized that if we approached various constituencies with questions about their problems and obstacles, we could speak more effectively about housing on their terms,” said Shelby Mertes, PSC’s Chief Policy Analyst. “Over time, our multi-tiered campaign brought advocates together on a variety of issues and brought into focus the importance that affordable housing plays in our state.”
“By bringing housing advocates, residents, and service providers together with advocates on education, healthcare, transportation, seniors and youth issues, we were able to show that affordable housing is good not only for the individuals and families helped, but also for individual communities and Connecticut as a whole,” said Betsy Crum, Executive Director of CHC. “By changing attitudes, our rhetoric and our measures of success, we’ve been able to better align the way the state approaches housing with a much wider audience. The result has been that our leaders now see housing as an issue that crosses party lines.”