Reports / Plans
Updated by CRCOG in 2014, the Capitol Region Plan of Conservation and Development: Vibrant. Green. Connected. Competitive. is a general guide for the future conservation and development of the greater Hartford area. It encourages the creation of a more sustainable region and presents some of the challenges and choices that will ultimately shape the region’s future. The Housing chapter includes an overview of housing conditions in the Region, an affordability assessment, indicators of housing needs (current and future) and goals and policy recommendations that target increasing housing opportunities and choice, enforcing fair housing laws, supporting neighborhood revitalization, and improving linkages between housing, jobs and services.
Housing Affordability, Housing Choice
This two-page issue brief, published by the bi-state Sustainable Knowledge Corridor, includes an overview of why access to affordable housing choices is important and discusses trends and issues that have contributed to inequalities at the local and regional level. Metrics that can be used to measure progress in this arena, opportunities to support change and resources for learning more are included as well.
This report, published annually by the Partnership for Strong Communities, provides the public with a snapshot of Connecticut’s housing market and needs, using current data and research. According to the 2014 edition, Connecticut remained one of the most expensive states to buy or rent a home and the demand for rental housing increased significantly. While data showed a 4% decline in homelessness and a 10% decline in chronic homelessness, housing prices remained out of reach for many Connecticut households.
Out of Reach 2015
Published by the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, Out of Reach quantifies the challenges low and moderate-income families throughout the nation face in finding decent, affordable housing. The report provides a side-by-side comparison of wages and rents in every county, Metropolitan Area and state in the U.S. This edition “highlights some of the economic challenges facing low income renters, including lagging wages, inconsistent job growth and the rising cost of living”. Click here to visit Out of Reach’s new interactive website, which allows users to quickly find key statistics for their state and compare county-level data to state-level data or to data from other county or metropolitan areas within the state.
Opening Doors: Greater Hartford is an initiative aimed towards eliminating homelessness in the capitol region. Realizing that there are numerous causes for homelessness, Opening Doors: Greater Hartford offers a multifaceted approach to combat it. By utilizing resources already available and working in the community to create new programs, Opening Doors: Greater Hartford is our community’s comprehensive plan to prevent and end homeless in the Greater Hartford Area.
State of the Nation’s Housing, 2013
The State of the Nation’s Housing, now in its 25th year, is released annually by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. This year’s report “provides a current assessment of the state of the housing market and the foreclosure crisis; the economic and demographic trends driving housing demand; the state of mortgage finance; and ongoing housing affordability challenges”.
2015 Housing Data Profiles
Published by the Partnership for Strong Communities, this compendium includes municipal Housing Data Profiles for every town in Connecticut, each county, and a statewide profile as well. The 2015 edition includes charts and graphs visualizing data on housing stock, income, age distribution of residents, housing characteristics, housing costs and affordability, housing production and affordable units. In addition, a narrative analysis of housing conditions for each municipality, and a list of Key Stats, is provided as well.
This report, published by Enterprise Community Partners and funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, provides a series of actionable recommendations that demonstrate how affordable housing and housing providers can serve as a crucial conduit for providing low-income families with access to healthy foods and fostering healthy eating. It also highlights some of the existing programs and best practices in addressing the nutritional needs of low-income communities.
2015 Age-Friendly: Inspiring Communities Report
AARP International looked at efforts in the United States and worldwide to identify projects and programs that are worth sharing and, when possible, replicating. The 2015 Age-Friendly: Inspiring Communities Report presents a collection of age-friendly “good practices” and features 16 communities. The report is organized according to which of the World Health Organization’s “8 Domains of Age-Friendliness” (referred to in the U.S. as the “8 Domains of Livability”) the work most represents. However, since the efforts underway in each community touch upon needs in multiple domains, sub-domains are identified as well. Individually and together, the case studies show the inspiring work now underway to meet the needs of older adults. Creating great places for people of all ages enables older residents to participate in community life.
Click here to access the report and to review the Housing section (Domain 3).
In 2008, the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) collaborated with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Smart Growth Program to identify tools and strategies for implementing a state affordable housing program, HOMEConnecticut, to grow smarter, ensure healthy and affordable housing, and support long-term economic competitiveness at the local and regional levels. The guidelines in this document are a result of that collaboration and will help guide development in the 30 urban, suburban, and rural municipalities that make up the Connecticut Capitol Region.
Sustainable Land Use Model Regulations
CRCOG’s innovative booklet of Sustainable Land Use Model Regulations equips towns with model regulatory language covering ten specific topic areas, including Housing Diversity and Affordability (with a focus on accessory dwelling and live/work units). A separate section focuses on inclusionary workforce housing as an element of compact, mixed-use development patterns. The project, funded by a HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant, also included the creation of renderings to help communities visualize the physical impact of implementing the regulations. The visualizations were created for urban, suburban and rural communities at both a bird’s eye and street-level view. Click here to access: specific regulations by topic, the complete compendium of regulations, the accompanying visualizations and a video about the project.
Sample Local Regulations
Town of Simsbury-Workforce Housing Overlay Zone
Adopted by the Simbury Zoning Commission in April of 2013 as one tool to create “workforce” (affordable) housing, this regulation uses many of the components of the Incentive Housing Zone legislation that was passed by the Connecticut Legislature, but does not fully meet the criteria for the process requirements and density limitations contained in the legislation. The regulation does include specific density requirements which the Town feels provides significant incentives to create attractive, yet affordable housing units. It also contains graphic illustrations to show specific types of acceptable development for each of the six (6) subzones allowed under the regulation.
Download the regulation here.
The Partnership for Strong Communities seeks to create safe, secure homes and expand opportunities for all residents of Connecticut through its Reaching Home Campaign, which aims to prevent and end homelessness; its HOMEConnecticut campaign, which seeks to increase the affordable housing stock in locations where there is little or none; and by conducting forums that explore solutions in community development, transportation, education and other disciplines intimately connected to housing policy.
The Connecticut Housing Coalition works to expand housing opportunity and to increase the quantity and quality of affordable housing available to people with low and moderate incomes throughout Connecticut through advocacy, education and collaboration. The Housing Coalition is the state’s foremost membership organization for affordable housing, representing the broad, vibrant network of community-based, affordable housing activity across the state.
Journey Home is a nonprofit organization leading the implementation of Opening Doors-Greater Hartford, the regional comprehensive plan to prevent and end homelessness. Journey Home works with local, regional, and statewide agencies and municipalities to accelerate progress towards preventing and ending homelessness. Through collaboration and innovation, Journey Home develops new initiatives based on data, research, and best practices.
The mission of the Connecticut Fair Housing Center is to ensure that all people have equal access to housing opportunities in Connecticut. Because low-income people are particularly affected by discriminatory housing practices, the Center devotes the majority of its resources to assisting these Connecticut residents. The Center also assists homeowners who have been hit hardest by the nation’s ongoing foreclosure crisis.
HUD’s Sustainable Communities eNews highlights information on emerging best practices that America’s communities and regions are generating to make their communities more economically competitive, inclusive, and energy efficient. Read the eNewsletter to learn how America’s communities are developing strategies to help ensure their economic, environmental, and social sustainability.
Connecticut’s Legislative Commission on Aging is the non-partisan, public policy and research office of the Connecticut General Assembly. For more than twenty years, the Legislative Commission on Aging has served as an effective leader in statewide efforts to promote choice and dignity and to enhance the quality of life for Connecticut’s older adults and persons with disabilities. Through the livable communities initiative, Connecticut’s Legislative Commission on Aging is providing information and inspiration for community leaders to shape places that can support Connecticut residents across the lifespan. Livable communities offer affordable, accessible and diverse housing and transportation options and public spaces and buildings, supportive community features and services, and vibrancy and opportunities for community engagement.
This New Haven-based foundation provides support to the non-profit community in four key areas, including Community Development, and targets “programs and initiatives that support and encourage affordable housing and/or, expand home ownership opportunities, leading to safe, economically viable neighborhoods”, as one of its many funding priorities. Fifteen CRCOG towns fall within its funding jurisdiction. The deadline for submitting applications in 2016 is July 1st. For application guidelines, visit www.newalliancefoundation.org.
The Bank of America Charitable Foundation is offering grants for nonprofits working to address issues pertaining to community development. Examples of funding priorities include: Affordable Housing (housing, home buyer education, homeowner retention, financial stability), Neighborhood Preservation (addressing distresses properties and blight), and Community Revitalization (comprehensive place-based revitalization, community anchors, fostering green communities, transit-oriented development and economic development).
The application period for grants focusing on Community Development is open from April 19 through May 6, 2016. To learn more about the Bank of America Charitable Foundation program, visit the Foundation’s webpage. To review specifics about the Community Development funding priority, click here.
In the News
Infill Paces Greater Hartford’s Surging Development Projects
By Gregory Seay
Want a sure sign the real estate market in your neighborhood is healthy and ripe for expansion?
Notice how fast — or slowly — the vacant or underdeveloped lots or blighted buildings in a community are transformed into houses, apartments/townhomes, or office-retail space, says Alan Mallach, a New Jersey urban planner, author and adviser to municipalities on creating better living environments and other “infill” development.
“Infill thrives,” Mallach said, “where you have a strong [real estate] market environment.”
In Greater Hartford, a raft of infill developments are underway or seeking approval, some of it driven by the emergence of central Connecticut’s busway/rail corridors, experts say. Others are taking place in more in-demand realty markets. Among them:
- In West Hartford, a Torrington builder wants to erect 25 homes priced from the high $600,000s to $700,000s, on 1.3 acres of West Hartford’s former Gledhill Nursery site, off Mountain Road. Across town, there is a proposal to convert the former Patrissi Nursery site, off Park Road, into five buildings containing 25 units of attached luxury dwellings — The Townhomes at Ringgold Estates.
- At 243 Steele Road, where six luxury apartment buildings with 160 units of the Residences at Steele Road bowed within the last two years, Farmington developer Metro Realty Group recently was granted permission to add a seventh building, with 30 more units.
- In Glastonbury, the same Torrington builder has applied to erect 18 houses on a cul-de-sac abutting Holy Cross Cemetery. Also contributing to the town’s infill expansion is the 145-unit One Glastonbury Place apartments, rising off Hebron Avenue, and an $18 million redevelopment and expansion to 72 units from 34 of the town’s Center Village seniors housing complex, at the corner of Salmon Brook and New London Turnpike.
- In Southington, Groton developer Hunter Build LLC is proposing a $3 million, 40 unit age-restricted multifamily project. That would follow on Hunter’s first development of an adjacent 19-lot, single-family subdivision.
- In Windsor Locks, work has begun to convert a vacant mill site into the 160-unit Montgomery Mills. One of the latest examples of transit-oriented development, it will be adjacent to a downtown train station planned for the upcoming Hartford Line.
- In Hartford, the city is soliciting fresh proposals to redevelop its four parcels of approximately 20 acres of primarily commuter-event parking fronting Main Street in the Downtown North (DoNo) quadrant, encompassing the ballpark, into housing and commercial spaces.
Those projects are just the latest wave of infill development sweeping central Connecticut in the wake of the state’s huge transportation investments in the CTfastrak busway and Hartford rail line, which debuts in May, observers say. New Britain, Newington, Meriden, West Hartford, Windsor Locks are among communities with private development underway or planned for apartments and retail space close to planned busway and railway stations.
The Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG), a Hartford nonprofit advisor to municipalities on public policy and economic development, says there are more than 150 tracts in Greater Hartford suitable for infill development close to busway and rail stops.
“There’s a lot of potential out there,” said Mary Ellen Kowaleski, director of policy and planning at CRCOG.
Infill has been a development phenomenon since builders began erecting houses and commercial buildings, initially in densely packed urban areas, moving later to suburban markets as populations spread there, planning and land-development experts say.
For cities and towns, infill development offers a route to restoring vacant, blighted or underused tracts to productive reuse, including lifting municipalities’ revenue streams by collecting permitting and building fees, and, ultimately, as improvements boost the properties’ value, greater property-tax collections.
Infill offers other benefits. Roads and electricity, water, sewer and natural-gas lines already in place save developers money when building new or repurposing a property, said Emily Hultquist, principal planner and policy analyst at CRCOG.
It also “can help create a more connected neighborhood,” Hultquist said. “And those are the types of neighborhoods that Millennials and the senior population are interested in.”
Hartford Planning and Economic Development Director Jamie Bratt said the city’s revised plan of conservation and development and new zoning rules “gives us a really good tool” for encouraging and reviewing infill development.
“Our zoning along the CTfastrak corridor,” Bratt said, “essentially mirrors the achievable density of downtown.”
According to Michael Piscetelli, New Haven’s deputy economic development administrator, infill development generally refers to the redevelopment of vacant sites in a settled area. For example, back during urban renewal, buildings would be cleared to remove blight, expand parcel size or any number of other reasons.
In New Haven, a number of those sites are being acquired and developed for mixed-use and multifamily rental housing, Piscetelli said. One is from Spinnaker Development, at the downtown corner of State and Audubon streets, that for years was surface parking for former Southern New England Telephone, and later for Frontier Communications.
Infill embraced, rejected
Over ensuing years, once overlooked vacant tracts, coupled with blighted or underused properties, have become enticing development targets, experts say. Parcels in more desirable neighborhoods or communities are especially prized for redevelopment.
Sparse undeveloped acreage was the reason Torrington builder Steven Temkin agreed to buy and redevelop the 9-acre Gledhill Nursery tract in West Hartford into luxury homes.
“There’s not that much vacant land in West Hartford,” said Temkin, CEO of T&M Building Co. Inc., adding he briefly competed with a local church for the Gledhill tract.
In Rocky Hill, T&M is underway with infill construction on 14 half-acre lots on 11 acres, near the Wethersfield border. Those dwellings bear many of the design features as those planned for Gledhill, Temkin said.
Many of today’s homebuyers, he said, want dwellings packed with lots of features and comforts missing from older units that require costly and time-consuming remodeling to attain. Also, smaller lot sizes appeal to those eager to downsize after raising families and weary of mowing and clearing snow.
Not all infill development, however, is welcomed. In Hartford’s historic Asylum Hill section in the West End, a redevelopment plan by nonprofit Chrysalis Center Inc. to convert several buildings there into low-income housing has raised residents’ concerns about the impact on neighborhood property values and quality of life.
In Avon, neighbors oppose a proposed affordable-housing subdivision in their neighborhood. That has prompted the town to weigh a moratorium on such development.
However, Avon town planner Hiram Peck said the town recently changed its land-use regulations, allowing owners of existing commercial buildings to expand their footprints, if they meet certain town guidelines.
It was this change, Peck said, that has cleared the way for furniture retail Raymour & Flanigan to acquire and work on enlarging the former Nassau Furniture/Broyles Furniture showroom, at the corner of Albany Turnpike/Routes 44 and 10. Also pending, he said, is an application from The Shops at Nod Brook, 315 W. Main St./Route 44, for a 16,000-square-foot building addition.
“The regulation was a perfect fit for them,” Peck said.
Reprinted from HartfordBusiness.com (2/17/18)
In 2012, The MetroHartford Alliance launched a Homeownership Incentive Program and today, all three members of the Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance (SINA)–Trinity College, Hartford Hospital and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center–have implemented their own version of the program to promote homeownership in the South End of Hartford. Employees in good standing have the ability to receive a loan of $10,000 to be put towards a home that is forgiven in its entirety after five years of residency and continued employment with the institution. To learn more about the program, visit SINA’s website.