Affordable Housing, Announcements, Community Development, State News

OPM Provides New HOMEConnecticut Funding, Confident of Its Effectiveness As Planning, Zoning, Development Tool

 

The state’s widely successful HOMEConnecticut program – a series of municipal incentives to help cities and towns proactively identify, plan, zone and develop appropriate areas for the additional housing options they need – has been re-energized with $2 million in new funding available to all municipalities across Connecticut.

The Office of Policy and Management has also announced the first payments to municipalities that have created Incentive Housing Zones under the program. Old Saybrook, New London, Torrington, East Lyme and Sharon will each receive checks for $20,000 for creating IHZs. They will now be eligible for payments of up to $150 per unit when they issue building permits in their zones.

Many of the 50 municipalities that received technical assistance grants from OPM when the program was initiated in 2008 have done substantial work in assessing their housing needs, identifying locations for Incentive Housing Zones and completing the preliminary work required before they establish their IHZs. As many as 12 are expected to apply to OPM in the next six months for zone approval and the $20,000 payments that come with it. OPM has also reserved substantial funding for incentive payments to municipalities when they issue building permits.

“Connecticut residents need housing options they can afford,” OPM Secretary Ben Barnes said in announcing the incentive payments and new grant availability. “This program does that while also encouraging ‘smart’ development. As Connecticut works to spur economic growth, a critical component of that effort is supporting a diverse mix of housing options for people of all incomes.”

The OPM announcement also means that new pre-development grants of $20,000 to $50,000 are now available to all Connecticut municipalities, whether they have participated in the program in the past or not. The application deadline is Jan. 31, 2013. Municipalities will have to demonstrate their interest in and ability to create IHZs within a reasonable period after receipt of the grants; they can be used to finance everything from zoning and design work to engineering studies, appraisals and purchase of options or real estate. It is also possible for municipalities to pass the grants along to developers under certain circumstances.

The HOMEConnecticut program, formally known as the Housing Program for Economic Growth, is designed to help municipalities create mixed-income homes to meet the demands of a changing housing market. Municipalities may create overlay zones – and receive incentive payments – if the zones permit higher-densities and ensure that at least 20% of the units constructed are affordable to residents making 80% of the area median income. The program provides great flexibility to municipalities to determine the location, size, type and design of the housing, and also allows for mixed-use development in the zone.

More information about the available grants, along with the application, can be obtained through the OPM website. Municipal officials, community leaders and developers may also contact Dimple Desai at OPM (Dimple.Desai@ct.gov or 860/418-6412) or David Fink, Policy Director, Partnership for Strong Communities, 860/244-0066 or david@pschousing.org.

 

 

 

 
 

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