by Sean Ghio
The Partnership for Strong Communities has released a new report, “Connecticut’s Ignored Homes: The Case for Producing and Preserving Small Multifamily Housing.” The report argues that modestly-sized apartment buildings are the foundation of Connecticut’s affordable rental housing, and that continued building and preservation of these apartments is needed to lower the cost of rent and improve housing choice in the state.
While Connecticut has engaged in a long-overdue conversation about the need for zoning reform in the state, this report, authored by the Partnership’s Policy Director Sean Ghio, shows that diverse housing options have social and economic benefits for Connecticut communities.
“Connecticut has one of the highest housing costs in the nation, as well as a shortage of homes that the state’s lower-income residents can afford,” says Ghio. “Research has shown that these small multifamily buildings are usually the most affordable rental options in a given community. We should be building more homes like these – the problem is, we’re not.”
Connecticut has produced very little small multifamily housing in recent decades due to restrictive zoning codes and the prevalence of multi-family housing bans. An analysis by the advocacy group Desegregate CT shows that just 2% of Connecticut’s land is zoned to allow new homes of up to four units. Just 4.9% of Connecticut’s 2-4 unit homes were built in the last 20 years.
The Partnership’s analysis also finds that a disproportionate percentage of Black and Hispanic households live in small multifamily buildings, both as owners and renters. The report concludes that “the age, location, and price point of much of the small multifamily housing supply in Connecticut provide a more affordable means for lower income homebuyers to build home equity.”
The report concludes with a number of possible policy changes to facilitate the production and preservation of small multifamily housing, as well as a “Framework for Change” designed to help policymakers establish future housing policy.