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Affordable Housing , Community Development , Reports and Publications , State News

Sometimes, Top In the Nation Isn’t A Good Thing

25 March 2014

Betsy Crum, Executive Director, Connecticut Housing Coalition

Usually it’s good to be in the top tier.  During March Madness, we’re hoping our beloved Huskies will finish on top – Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, and the Final Four.

But with a 2014 “housing wage” of $23.02 an hour, Connecticut has the dubious honor of being near the top when it comes to least affordable states in America.  “Housing wage” is defined as the amount a household must earn hourly to afford a typical two-bedroom apartment.  In Connecticut, a family must earn $47,890 annually, or $23.02 an hour for a 40-hour work week, to afford the statewide fair market rent of $1,197 per month for a two-bedroom apartment. 

Out of Reach 2014, the annual national report issued on March 24, 2014 by the Connecticut Housing Coalition in coordination with the National Low Income Housing Coalition, ranks Connecticut as one of the most expensive states in the nation.   And that’s not all:  Danbury, where you would need to earn $30.31 an hour to afford the two-bedroom fair market apartment rent of $1,576, is the eighth most expensive market in the country, beating out Boston and New York City.  The Stamford/Norwalk metro area is right behind in the ninth spot.  If you want to move to rural Connecticut, you will still pay a premium rent – our non-metro areas are the sixth most expensive in the United States.

According to data from the American Community Survey (from the U.S. Census), we know that we have a shortage of about 90,000 units of affordable housing in Connecticut.  Increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 hourly would make a big difference, but would not solve the problem.  We need more affordable housing, period.  And we need it in every city and town in Connecticut.  Housing is the number one reason why people call Infoline/2-1-1.  Many of the state’s stable, full-time jobs are not enough to afford an apartment. Housing is a main reason many employers give for leaving the area.  Housing conditions directly affect health outcomes and educational achievement.  All of our best ideas to address the social, educational and economic issues of families and children are at risk if basic housing needs are not met.

Governor Malloy has made a substantial investment in affordable housing.  The new National Housing Trust Fund has great promise to restore our national commitment to housing.  Local efforts like Housing Connections, HOMEConnecticut and the Affordable Land Use Appeals process also show great potential to help every municipality contribute to the solution.  But we need to make sure that what is built is affordable to the families that need it most – people making minimum wage, single parents families, seniors, people with disabilities. 

These folks are on our “team;” they are the people who make up the heart and soul of our communities and our economy – and we need to make sure they have the housing they need and the incomes to support it.  Go Connecticut! Go Huskies!  

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