The draft plan proposes concepts for improving housing affordability in Stonington; community conversation scheduled for Thursday | Stoneton
STONINGTON – To meet housing affordability needs in the community, the city should consider revising planning regulations, investing in development and redevelopment near exits 90 and 92, and implementing programs, including a housing trust fund proposed to assist in the development of affordable housing.
The recommendations are part of a long-term strategic plan for affordable housing that will be unveiled to the public Thursday night as the city solicits input from residents during a 6 to 7:30 a.m. community conservation at the Velvet Mill in the Borough of Stonington. The draft plan, developed as part of a study by consultant Donald Poland of Goman + York Property Advisors of East Hartford, will serve as a document to guide development and programs as part of a scale-up effort. state to address growing housing affordability issues in Connecticut.
Effort is a crucial part of developing a sustainable community plan, said First Selectman Danielle Chesebrough, and is necessary to properly meet the growing need for housing that will serve households at 50% or less of the median income.
“This is the next step in a complex process to create a comprehensive plan, and we continue to solicit feedback on what residents hope to see,” she said. “There is a significant need in our community, which is only indicated in the waiting lists for available housing. In Brookside, for example, housing for families has an estimated three-year wait list, and while it’s not that bad, there are also waiting lists in all other senior housing and affordable from the city.
Almost 41% of renters and 29% of city owners are seen as overburdened with costs, spending more than 30% on housing and creating difficulties in obtaining other necessities, including food, clothing, transportation and medical care, according to a study by the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments.
However, the need is not unique to Stonington, and the city’s work to move forward with a plan follows a commitment by Governor Ned Lamont to prioritize housing affordability and recent passage of state legislation requiring cities to develop a municipal affordable housing plan. at least once every five years.
In Stonington, the study found that the greatest need is a demand for rental housing to specifically serve people at or below 80% of the area’s median income, or $ 78,500 for a family of four.
In a 34-page draft plan available on the city’s website that will serve as the basis for Thursday’s conversation, Poland said it believes the city is in a position to make improvements that will attract new housing. appropriate affordable prices that would allow it to remain committed to maintaining its rural and suburban character and aesthetic appeal.
“It is reasonable to protect and maintain these areas, these development patterns and their character, provided that Stonington strives to meet the need for affordable housing through higher density, multi-family and mixed-use development,” Poland wrote.
Among the areas identified for development, Poland said the city would benefit from a regulatory review to promote appropriate, but higher density, development along the I-95 corridor, especially at exits 90 and 92. .
At Pawcatuck, he said the city has enough space to attract larger developments with minimal impact on aesthetics or character. The recommendations note that at Mystic, the city would not necessarily benefit from further growth but rather from the redevelopment of existing areas, especially those outside of the Mystic Seaport and the historic downtown district.
The plan also provides for the development of new policies and programs, including the expansion of property tax reductions for developers committed to being partners in the development of affordable housing, bringing families to income.
Chesebrough said this week that the fund is an intriguing concept which, if developed, could help retain residents and, therefore, workers while simultaneously encouraging developers to invest in suitable affordable housing projects with long-term management plans.
“This is something that is certainly worth discussing further with the Finance Council,” Chesebrough said. “Would it be possible to create a revolving loan program that would help and retain those in the community who are making property improvements?” It could help keep our seniors living in a fixed income home in need of repairs. “
According to the recommendations presented by Poland, the city would maintain the fund as a budget item in the annual budget – grants and other opportunities could also be used for funding, according to the study – with grants and loans given specifically to developers and homeowners wishing to make repairs or upgrades that meet the city’s affordable housing goals.
It’s still early in the process, Chesebrough said, but the city will need input from residents in order to develop a plan that will work for the community as a whole.
“The goal here is to find a balance in a way that will maintain or improve the quality of life while meeting the needs of housing affordability,” she said.
The community conversation will be open to the public, and pizza and drinks will be available to those in attendance. For more information, including a copy of the draft plan, visit the city’s website at www.stonington-ct.gov.