The nonprofit think tank released the latest in a string of reports on Connecticut’s housing crisis. The 46-page document comes as state policymakers prepare for this year’s legislative session, which begins on Feb. 7.
During a morning press conference, Emily Byrne, the group’s executive director, pointed to recent news that Connecticut experienced the fourth highest increase in home prices in the nation between the third quarter of 2022 and the third quarter of 2023.
The state’s rising home prices have shown no signs of slowing down. A Realtor.com forecast of the of the top housing markets for 2024 placed the Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown area 11th in a ranking of the largest 100 metros by their expected sale and price growth rates.
The CT Voices report found that Connecticut experienced a lower rate of home construction than the rest of the country since the 1990s, which has led to an increased housing cost burden that has fallen disproportionately on the state’s Black and brown families.
In an effort to encourage the construction of denser, more affordable housing developments, the group called on state policymakers to embrace zoning and building code reforms — a subject which proponents have had a difficult time advancing in the state legislature.
Samaila Adelaiye, a research and policy fellow who authored the report, said a similar policy had proven successful in increasing housing supply in New Jersey.
“Acknowledging that the scarcity of affordable housing affects the entire state and that collaborative endeavors from all towns are essential to tackle these issues will prove to be immensely advantageous,” Adelaiye wrote.
Other development-related recommendations in the report included policies to streamline the approval of new housing, a proposal to allow public housing authorities flexibility to build in neighboring towns, as well as building code reforms designed to encourage the construction of multi-family homes or scrap restrictions on creating housing units within existing buildings.
Another section of the report focused on improving protections for renters and enacting policies to mitigate rent increases. The group called for a new cap on rent hikes along with a requirement that landlords provide timely notification to tenants if they plan to increase rent.
Legislation that would have capped annual increases at 4% plus the rate of inflation stalled last year in the Housing Committee. The bill failed to advance following a public hearing that featured an outpouring of testimony, including from landlords who argued that a cap would exacerbate the state’s existing housing crisis.
The report argued that policymakers should take a second look at the proposals, which may help reduce the risk of displacement among renters.
“By implementing this anti-gouging measure, landlords would still have the opportunity to earn a fair profit from their rental properties,” Adelaiye wrote. “At the same time, tenants would be protected from being forced out of their homes due to excessive rent increases.”