Planning and zoning meetings across Connecticut have been punctuated for decades with public comments to the effect that low-income housing will, should the commission dare allow for the introduction of such housing to their town, lower housing values of incumbent homeowners. The argument might be summarized that low-income housing development, by its very proximity to existing homes, reduces the sale value of this homes, thereby imposing, in effect, an additional property tax on the incumbents.
My analysis of the data demonstrates otherwise.
My calculations –including the density of low-income housing throughout Connecticut and housing price changes in each zip code that includes low-income housing, from 2010-2021 — demonstrate that, in fact, housing values in communities where low-income housing is built rise, not fall, faster than housing values in the rest of the state.
First, using HUD and census data, I mapped low-income housing units per capita into each Connecticut zip code, and aggregated the data by town. An interesting pattern was revealed, showing two things:
- Low-income housing is most densely developed along the routes of larger highways and…
- Contiguous towns tend to include low-income housing more so than towns not near other towns that include low-income housing. Part of this may be explained by the Low Income Housing Tax Credit scoring system administered by the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, which awards points to low-income housing development proposals that are within certain regional revitalization or affordable housing plans, within certain urban areas or urban clusters, and near designated amenities such as grocery stores, medical offices, and parks that include playgrounds, walking trails, and sports facilities, such as basketball courts.
Evaluation of the towns with low-income housing present using housing price index growth data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency for years 2010 through 2021 demonstrates that those towns experienced a nearly .4 percentage point higher growth rate in housing prices than did the state overall.
In other words, housing prices in towns with low-income housing present manifest meaningfully faster housing price growth than housing prices in the state overall.
This is not to assert that the development of low-income housing in a town causes more rapid growth in local housing prices. The data do, however, point to the presence of factors associated with the presence of low-income housing that positively affects the value of residential real estate.
The myth of negative effects on house prices of the development of low income housing contradicts demonstrable facts. Towns should consider this when they evaluate low income housing proposals.
Dan Smolnik is a tax attorney in Hamden and a member of the Hamden Economic Development Commission. Views expressed are exclusively those of the author.