Legislative Priorities

 

The General Assembly’s 2015-2017 biennial budget, implementer and bond bill, finalized early Tuesday morning, provides significant policy and funding support for affordable and supportive housing creation, along with vital support services for the residents who will enjoy that new housing.

Lawmakers adopted a final budget that follows closely Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s robust housing blueprint proposed in February, providing housing or housing-related services for Veterans, people with disabilities and low-moderate-income residents across Connecticut. 

It also includes substantial resources to help promote housing creation near transit, which will allow working-class households to access jobs, training, healthcare, fresh food and schools and services in higher-resource towns.

The budget provides only a portion of the resources for key state housing programs. The capital side of the spending plan, encompassed in the legislature’s bond package, provides more than $400 million in direct housing construction funds, infrastructure allotments, brownfields remediation and other indirect housing supports.  

“We are very, very grateful for the generous fiscal resources and thoughtful policy that are embodied in the programs that Gov. Malloy, Speaker Sharkey, Senate President Looney, their budget officials, their committee chairmen and many lawmakers have provided in the budget and bond bill,” said David Fink, policy director for the Partnership for Strong Communities. “Following on the incredible support of the last several years, they have shown they understand that an affordable home with needed services is the foundation of both individual opportunity and the state’s economic growth.” 

The final budget adopted by the House and Senate, which Gov. Malloy signed into law later Tuesday, includes:

  • $1 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 and $2 million in FY 2017 for support services provided by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) and another $900,000 million in FY 2016 and $1.8 million in FY 2017 for Department of Housing (DOH) rental subsidies to create a total of 200 new units of supportive housing related to the Governor’s Second Chance Initiative – the Connecticut Collaborative on Re-Entry (formally known as FUSE) to serve those who frequently cycle through the criminal justice system and homeless shelter services. 
  • $1 million in FY 2016 and $1 million in FY 2017 to DMHAS for wraparound services for chronically homeless individuals as part of the Governor’s Zero: 2016 initiative. 
  • $1 million in each year for the Homeless Youth Program in the Department of Children and Families (DCF).
  • $1.1 million in FY 2016 and $1.15 million in FY 2017 to DOH for the non-profit housing tax abatement program.
  • $527,000 in FY 2016 and $541,000 in FY 2017 to Department of Labor (DOL) for the Veterans’ Opportunity PILOT, a job training and subsidized employment program for veterans who have been homeless or at risk of homelessness.
  • Up to $20.3 million in Community Investment Act funding over the biennium, of which 25% is authorized for housing and homelessness programs.
  • $1.43 million in each year to the DOL to provide funding for the expansion of the Integrated Basic Education and Skills program as part of Gov. Malloy’s Second Chance Initiative.
  • $1.5 million in FY 2016 and $3 million in FY 2017 to DMHAS for grants to organizations that provide acute care and emergency behavioral health services, care coordination, access to information and referrals to healthcare and social service programs.
  • $138,000 in each year for supportive housing services at Jefferson House in New Britain and Horace Bushnell Apartments in Hartford.
  • Funding in the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) for a Land Value Taxation pilot program in three municipalities yet to be determined. 

The budget implementer passed in the special session also makes these housing or housing-related changes: 

  • The Homeless Youth program will move from the DCF to DOH, effective July 2017, and the program’s eligibility age will increase to 23 or younger.
  • A two-generational school readiness and workforce development pilot is established in six locations. Funding of $2 million in each year of the biennium is provided through the DOL. An interagency working group will be staffed by the Commission on Children.
  • OPM is specifically authorized to use funding including Urban Act for Transit Oriented Development (TOD) projects. 
  • DMHAS, Court Support Services Division, Department of Corrections, and DCF are required to evaluate each agency’s criminal and juvenile justice programs; categorizing them as evidence-based, research-based, promising, or lacking any evidence of impact; and report back to the legislature and OPM.
  • Municipalities are prohibited until June 30, 2016 from requiring housing authorities to make PILOT payments for moderate rental projects unless a project receives federal funds for such expenses. 
  • An additional $180,000 from the Community Investment Act is provided to the CT Trust for Historic Preservation to replace a funding reduction in the budget passed June 3. 

The bond bill provides housing or housing-related capital funds to DOH, OPM and six other agencies for a range of needs:

  • DOH:
    • $135 million in each year of the biennium for the FLEX program, including $30 million in each year for the revitalization of the state housing portfolio.
    • $40 million in FY 2016 and $25 million in FY 2017 for the Housing Trust Fund.
    • $15 million in each year of the biennium for the Homeless Prevention and Response Fund.
  • OPM:
    • $8 million for TOD in FY 2016 
    • $5 million in each year of the biennium for the Responsible Growth Fund
    • $70 million in FY 2016 and $50 million in FY 2017 for Urban Act grants
    • $20 million in each year of the biennium for STEAP grants.
    • $10 million in each year of the biennium for Grants to Non-Profits
  • Department of Developmental Services: $20 million in FY 2017 for grants to non-profit organizations for supportive housing.
  • Department of Economic and Community Development: $20 million in each year of the biennium for brownfields remediation.
  • Capital Region Development Authority: $50 million in each year of the biennium for housing and other development.
  • DOC: $15 million in FY 2017 for alterations and improvements to existing facilities.
  • DOL: $5 million in each year of the biennium for its STEP-UP Program.
  • Department of Veterans Affairs: $700,000 in FY 2016 and $500,000 in FY 2017 for alterations and improvements to its Rocky Hill campus.