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After decades of increasing housing segregation in Connecticut and across the United States – which saw residents separated by income, race, age and their abilities and disabilities – mixed-income housing has begun breaking down those walls. In many municipalities across the state, from Darien to Wallingford and Farmington to New Canaan, doctors live down the hall from nurses, lawyers down the block from paralegals, grandmothers next door to graduate students.
Mixed-income communities are comprised of residents renting or owning their homes at varying rates based on their income levels. Typically, smart developers make smart decisions to maximize their profit and income stream, such as utilizing inexpensive land and employing density levels that allow them to spread their land costs over more units.
The combination of market-rate condominiums or rentals with homes that are affordable to residents making 80% or 60% of the area’s median income has worked successfully for three principal reasons:
The demand for smaller, energy-efficient, lower cost and transit-proximate units in mixed-income developments is likely to increase. Why? Economic and demographic trends are bringing change:
While even the best mixed-income communities are, like all neighborhoods, not perfect – from time to time, residents disagree, fail to take care of their properties, and see crimes committed – objective observers, from mayors and police chiefs to the residents themselves, say their mixed-income communities have a largely positive impact on their towns. That is consistent with studies done by Rutgers University, MIT and other respected reseachers:
Less tangible than school enrollments and property values – but equally important— are the more subtle indicators of a positive quality of life in mixed-income developments. The benefits of well-located affordability for Connecticut families abound: retail merchants and fresh, affordable food are easily accessible; community services and recreational and cultural activities are available, and children can access some of the state’s strongest education systems.
Within the mixed-income community itself, people of different incomes, ethnicities, geographic backgrounds and other diverse origins become not just neighbors, but friends. The neighborhood becomes a place where class lines blur, and people of different professions, incomes, lifestyles, and cultures learn from and about one another.
Farmington and Wallingford are among the many municipalities where established mixed-income developments have prospered. They can demonstrate how mixed-income developments work for Connecticut families and individuals:
Both developments were designed and built with care. Both look as attractive now as they did when they were first constructed. Both are seen by municipal officials as welcome – and needed – additions to their towns’ spectrum of housing options.
Click here to read more about Heritage Glen.
Click here to read more about Olde Oak Village.
Click here for our publication, Success Stories: Mixed Income Housing in CT