Toward the end of last year, 39% of Connecticut renters who were not current on their rent payments felt they were likely to face displacement due to eviction in the next two months.
That’s according to a new report from Connecticut Voices for Children.
The report, which is the first in a two-part series, focuses on the measures that can be taken in the short term to protect tenants. It follows the Housing Committee’s decision to study the matter, but not raise a bill that would cap rental increases at 4% plus inflation.
“The housing crisis in Connecticut is at a tipping point. Many of the policies developed to combat the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic made an undeniable difference, particularly for Black and Latiné households, but we’re at the cliff of the pandemic era protections,” Emily Byrne, Connecticut Voices for Children Executive Director, said. “To prevent families from facing the possibility of eviction, a myriad of policy solutions are required. Data tells us there is an insufficient supply of housing within the state, ranging from deeply affordable to missing middle to market rate.”
The report states that while the housing affordability crisis is driven by long-standing inadequacies in housing supply there are short-term measures that should be considered.
The report recommends making Connecticut’s property tax credit fully refundable to renters, creating a child tax credit and increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit, increasing funding for rental assistance and expanding the Right to Counsel program to give more low-income tenants the right to a lawyer in eviction cases.
“There are policies the state can implement to help households facing the threat of eviction,” Samaila Adelaiye, Connecticut Voices for Children Research and Policy Fellow, said. “If we do not take steps to address the increasingly dire housing affordability problem and protect tenants, we will only deepen wealth disparities for our most marginalized communities and increase socio-economic hardship.”
The organization is also recommending the state protect tenants with fair rent commissions that recognize tenants’ unions and introduce laws that mandate landlords share energy cost information with tenants before a lease signing to protect them from “unanticipated energy costs.”
It’s unlikely the legislature is going to address any of these issues this year. However, it’s still attempting to address the issue of affordability through incentivizing new housing being built.
The Planning & Development Committee is hearing Gov. Ned Lamont’s bill today on building transit-oriented development and allowing for the rehabilitation of vacant buildings. However, there is opposition to how the proposal would build middle housing by exemption some local zoning laws.