Affordable housing: The key to healthy communities

By Lisa Tepper Bates and David Rich April 27, 2017

Expanding Connecticut’s stock of affordable housing is a smart solution to an important problem our state faces. Connecticut is the sixth most expensive state for housing. Nearly 50% of all Connecticut renters (250,000 people) pay more than is affordable (30% of their income) on housing. A growing body of research attests to the fact that safe and stable housing is the fundamental basis for a healthy and productive life. Children do not learn well if they lack a stable home. Adults are less able to be productive, and more likely to be ill, if they lack adequate housing. Our communities pay over and over through our public systems for these negative side effects of a lack of affordable housing. In these tight fiscal times, we cannot afford wasteful public spending. We can help solve this problem by increasing the stock of affordable housing through inclusionary zoning.

The pivotal importance of housing as the launchpad for a productive, healthy life is not just about our most vulnerable population facing homelessness. According to the United Way of Connecticut’s ALICE study, 38% of Connecticut households either live in absolute poverty (11%) or under the threshold of “Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed” (27%). These ALICE households have earnings above the federal poverty level but below a basic cost-of-living threshold. And among the greatest costs they face every month? Housing.

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