Affordable Housing, Community Development, State News

DECD Commissioner Calls Affordable Housing "Vital" To Growth


Expressing a commitment to preserving and creating affordable housing at all income levels and in mixed-income configurations, new DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith told more than 100 developers, policy analysts and housing advocates Wednesday that affordable housing "is a very important component of [Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s] economic development strategy."

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Connecticut Housing Coalition in New Haven, Smith also asserted a recommitment to permanent supportive housing - also in mixed-income developments - and said she would work in tandem with CHFA to complete an inventory of state housing needs over "the next couple of months" so she can begin spending $130 million in new bond funds for housing - along with $35 million for brownfield remediation - in the fall.

Despite the state's uncertain budget situation for the coming biennium, "I believe the bonding money will be preserved in its current form," she told the Housing Coalition audience. "There may be a small dent but I don’t think it’ll be a big dent."

Although she assumed her post only months ago, Smith appeared well-versed with the state's lack of affordable housing supply and the need to create homes, immediately, to stimulate the economy and, over the longer term, to help keep and attract young professionals and other skilled, educated labor.

"Housing is increasingly unaffordable and the trend is not our friend," she said. "The other disturbing thing is that, in the next five years, we risk losing 11,000 units of affordable housing," she said.  Smith said the creation and preservation of affordable housing at all income levels must be coordinated with transportation and economic growth efforts to create the communities and neighborhoods that will attract investment and jobs. "We need to make sure we have the kinds of cities, housing and communities and fun things to do that keep young people in the state."


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