The report by Jacqueline Rabe Thomas in your wonderful Mirror does not reflect reality in Connecticut small towns. She hypothesizes that the popularity of housing for senior is based on the intention to block the arrival of families with children.
I live in a small well-to-do town in Litchfield County next to another similar small town. Neither is big enough to have a traffic light. Both have specifically sought more affordable housing for families. The culture in these towns is that young families are needed in our school system and as the chief support of our town’s many volunteer programs, including the fire departments and medical responders.
My neighboring town has had a housing trust for some 30 years or more, and has sponsored several well-received affordable projects. I recall a vote on a project there specifically designed for families. The chairman of the Board of Finance advised that the project would raise school costs, but he voted for it anyway. My own town is into steady habits, but is now seeking to setting up a housing trust, particularly to attract young families. In my town, we still hold to the optimistic belief that more young families will not affect town costs.
But I think most of us who favor affordable housing know that isn’t so. Both towns have affordable housing for seniors because the seniors asked first, and these projects are easier to fund. From the beginning, going back to the Blue Ribbon Housing Commission, the state housing policy has been tilted to favor developers, with the same enticing premise that taxpayers won’t be paying for any of it. The idea codified in the original affordable housing law was to give local-override advantages to developers who promise to include, say, 20 percent affordable units in large (or small) development projects. The result has been a disappointing number of affordable units, and these units can be offered in age-restricted developments.
I personally could not afford one of the so-called affordable units, and there is nothing offered to bring in children.
What I love about Desegregate CT is the emphasis in its name on much-needed desegregation in this state. I hope we do find a way to desegregate. But that is hard and does not usually attract private investment. When I hear that a program is not going to cost taxpayers anything, my reaction is, we’ll get what we pay for.
Margaret Miner lives in Roxbury.