The 2021 legislative session ended on Wednesday, June 9th. This session the Legislature considered a number of housing and homelessness related bills, including several that Partnership for Strong Communities advocated for with the Reaching Home and HOMEConnecticut campaigns. Below is a summary of actions taken on these important bills.
Passed Bills Included in the HOMEConnecticut and Reaching Home Legislative Agendas:
H.B. No. 6107 AN ACT CONCERNING THE ZONING ENABLING ACT, ACCESSORY APARTMENTS, TRAINING FOR CERTAIN LAND USE OFFICIALS, MUNICIPAL AFFORDABLE HOUSING PLANS AND A COMMISSION ON CONNECTICUT'S DEVELOPMENT AND FUTURE.- Signed by Governor on June 10, 2021
The bill includes important provisions supported by the HOMEConnecticut Legislative Agenda, including:
- Permits as of right accessory apartments (or accessory dwelling units/ADUs) without a public hearing, special permit, or variance. The bill provides a process by which municipalities may opt out of this provision.
- Eliminates the vague and highly subjective concept of "character of the district" as a consideration in planning and zoning decisions replacing it with "physical site characteristics."
- Reorganizes Connecticut General Statutes Section 8-2 to make it more readable.
- Requires local planning and zoning officials to complete at least four hours of training biennially.
- Requires municipalities adopt an affordable housing plan by June 1, 2022.
- Establishes a commission to evaluate policies related to land use, conservation, housing affordability, and infrastructure.
To learn more about the impact of H.B. 6107, click here for PSC's detailed Legislative Update.
A provision of this bill waives the fee for youth aged 15-24 that are experiencing homelessness as verified by their school or service provider, to obtain a copy of their birth certificate and a state ID. The bill also establishes and modifies the definitions of "certified homeless youth" and "certified homeless young adult" to be consistent with federal definitions.
Click here for PSC's detailed Legislative Update following the passage of H.B. 6666.
The Budget and Bond bills included several funding priorities found on the Reaching Home and HOMEConnecticut legislative agendas. You can find a detailed Budget and Bond bill update on PSC's website here.
Additional Passed Bills of Interest:
S.B. 1 AN ACT EQUALIZING COMPREHENSIVE ACCESS TO MENTAL, BEHAVIORAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH CARE IN RESPONSE TO THE PANDEMIC. - Signed by Governor on June 14, 2021
- Creates a Commission on Racial Equity in Public Health, including one representative from Partnership for Strong Communities.
- The Commission shall develop and periodically update a comprehensive strategic plan to eliminate health disparities and inequities across sectors, including consideration of the following: Air and water quality, natural resources and agricultural land, affordable housing, infrastructure systems, public health, access to quality health care, social services, sustainable communities and the impact of climate change.
- This includes the impact of zoning restrictions on the creation of housing disparities and such disparities' impact on public health and racial disparities in housing insecurity.
S.B. No. 356 AN ACT ESTABLISHING AN ENERGY EFFICIENCY RETROFIT GRANT PROGRAM FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING. - Awaiting Governor's signature
- This bill requires the Department of Energy and Environment Protection (DEEP), by September 1, 2021, to establish an energy efficiency retrofit grant program. The program will award grants for installing energy efficient upgrades to affordable housing, including housing authority property.
- The Budget provides DEEP with $7 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds in FY22 for this program.
S.B. No. 891 AN ACT CONCERNING THE EZEQUIEL SANTIAGO FORECLOSURE MEDIATION PROGRAM AND OTHER ALTERNATIVES TO FORECLOSURE- Signed by Governor on June 14, 2021
- Extends the Ezequiel Santiago Foreclosure Mediation Program for six years until June 30, 2029.
- The bill establishes an emergency lien assistance program, within CHFA's Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program, to provide loans to homeowners who are facing foreclosure due to liens such as municipal water or sewer charges or municipal tax debt.
S.B. No. 1019 AN ACT CONCERNING THE BOARD OF PARDONS AND PAROLES, ERASURE OF CRIMINAL RECORDS FOR CERTAIN MISDEMEANOR AND FELONY OFFENSES, PROHIBITING DISCRIMINATION BASED ON ERASED CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORD INFORMATION AND CONCERNING THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE CONNECTICUT SENTENCING COMMISSION WITH RESPECT TO MISDEMEANOR SENTENCES - Signed by Governor on June 10, 2021
- Prohibits discrimination against a person based on such person's erased criminal history record information.
- Establishes a process to erase records of certain criminal convictions after a specified period following the person's most recent conviction. These provisions do not apply to certain felonies, family violence crimes, or certain crimes requiring sex offender registration.
H.B. No. 6436 AN ACT ESTABLISHING THE OPEN CHOICE VOUCHERS PILOT PROGRAM. - Awaiting Governor's signature
Directs the Connecticut Department of Housing to establish an Open Choice Voucher Pilot Program providing a per student grant in Norwalk and Danbury.
H.B. No. 6494 AN ACT CONCERNING THE DOWN PAYMENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAM, AFFORDABILITY INCENTIVE ZONES AND BONDS OF BOARD MEMBERS AND OTHER EMPLOYEES OF THE CONNECTICUT HOUSING FINANCE AUTHORITY. - Awaiting Governor's signature
- Changes to First Time Homebuyer and Downpayment Assistance Programs to Promote Expanded Use.
- Creation of Affordability Incentive Zones.
- Requires CHFA to develop guidelines to provide loans to first-time homebuyer borrowers with a debt-to-income ratio up to the highest ratio allowed for residential mortgages by regulators. The guidelines must also allow CHFA to consider an application regardless of the borrower's credit score and make use of nontraditional credit references, such as proof of employment or rental and utility payments. CHFA also must include closing costs in the loan amount when requested by the borrower.
- The bill also allows CHFA to establish "affordability incentive zones" in municipalities not exempt from the affordable housing appeals procedure (Section 8-30g) making use of alternative lending guidelines. For example, within affordable incentive zones, CHFA may increase eligibility limits for a home's purchase price or the maximum loan amount or decreasing the loan's interest rate.
H.B. No. 6531 AN ACT CONCERNING THE RIGHT TO COUNSEL IN EVICTION PROCEEDINGS, THE VALIDITY OF INLAND WETLANDS PERMITS IN RELATION TO CERTAIN OTHER LAND USE APPROVALS, AND EXTENDING THE TIME OF EXPIRATION OF CERTAIN LAND USE PERMITS - Signed by Governor on June 10, 2021
- The bill establishes a statewide "right to counsel program" to provide free legal representation to income-eligible tenants, lessees, or occupants of any residential building or land in a covered matter initiated on or after July 1, 2021.
- "Covered matters" include eviction or administrative proceeding necessary to preserve a state or federal housing subsidy or prevent a proposed lease termination
- The Budget provides DOH $10 million in FY 22 and $10 million in FY 23 in American Rescue Plan Act funds for tenant representation in evictions.
H.B. No. 6665 AN ACT CONCERNING THE REMOVAL OF RESTRICTIONS ON OWNERSHIP OR OCCUPANCY OF REAL PROPERTY BASED ON RACE AND ELIMINATION OF THE RACE DESIGNATION ON MARRIAGE LICENSES. - Awaiting Governor's signature
Prohibits restrictive covenants based on race and creates a process to remove existing racist covenants from land records.
We have also compiled a list of housing-related items in Connecticut's FY22-23 biennial budget, budget implementer, and bond package. Click here to view the breakdown of housing items.