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HousingInCT2011: Many Burdened By Housing Costs; Family Homelessness Rises

19 October 2011

By most measures, buying or renting a home remained an expensive and, too often, unaffordable proposition for Connecticut residents over the last year, despite a downturn in sales, price and demand, according to HousingInCT2011, The Partnership for Strong Communities’ annual assessment of housing affordability.

According to the footnoted report, released today, high unemployment and slow economic activity contributed to sobering realities: 15% more families were homeless, income disparity increased, and the number of households burdened by their housing costs grew.  Even as home prices declined and then leveled off, rental costs rose, leaving Connecticut among the 10 most expensive states for both.

Among the major findings, based upon new U.S. Census data and other leading sources:

  • Connecticut renters continue to struggle with high housing costs: 51% of renters pay more that 30% of their income on housing.  27% are severely burdened by their housing costs, spending over 50% of their income on housing.
  • Homeownership remains difficult for many because of declining incomes and stringent mortgage standards and housing prices that are high compared to other states. 
  • Homelessness remains a challenge.  Shelters remained at 100% of capacity, family homelessness rose and 2,200 households served through Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing programs were a fraction of the 12,000 households seeking help.

The report notes United Way of Connecticut’s 2-1-1 Infoline was a good barometer of hardship’s connection to housing: requests for housing services - from homeless shelters to rent payment assistance - rose to 90,074 in 2010 from 72,251 a year earlier, and were projected to go up in 2011 based on requests through August.

For those who are homeless, ill-housed or overburdened by the cost of their housing, the answer will reasonably need to include maintaining and increasing the supply of homes through homeowner assistance, rental subsidy, new construction or preservation.

But the report cautions that a changing market could mean much of Connecticut’s current housing stock may not meet future needs.

Amid a continuing shift from owning homes to renting them - homeowner vacancies have risen as rental vacancies have fallen - economists and housing experts largely agree increasing fuel and energy costs, difficulty in obtaining mortgages and the state’s aging population may mean larger homes and those far from transit may no longer have broad appeal. Connecticut's future may require many smaller, more affordable, energy-efficient homes to make more homes affordable for all, including the skilled labor Connecticut needs.

Download the full report here!

CT Mirror: Homelessness, income disparity and housing costs rise
Hartford Courant : Report: Housing In Connecticut Less Affordable For Renters
New London Day: Report: Housing costs mount in Connecticut
CT News Junkie: Report: Connecticut Homelessness Up 15 Percent
New Haven Register: Requests for housing services rising in Connecticut, report shows