State Representative Joe Zullo

EAST HAVEN – State Representative Joe Zullo (R-99) announced today that he intends to introduce a duo of concept bills in the upcoming session aimed at making the State’s affordable housing regulations fairer to municipalities on the cusp of complying with the State’s ten-percent affordable housing threshold.

Zullo announced, “The State’s affordable housing statutes, which establish a target of ten-percent affordable housing for cities and towns across the State, have opened up housing opportunities across the State for families seeking safe, affordable housing options. However, in East Haven, we’ve also seen how those same statutes lend themselves to exploitation by developers, who often seek to leverage the State’s affordable housing statutes to gain approval for other, non-affordable projects. My proposed legislation will allow towns to meet the ten-percent threshold by encouraging investment in their existing housing stock, as opposed to just through new development, and will protect municipalities from over-development.”

According to Zullo, the impetus for the legislation was the public outcry following the proposal to construct just under five-hundred units of housing on “Sperry Lane.”

Zullo noted, “Seeing the public outcry and the concern over that project, I knew I had to do something to try to address the issue – not only for my constituents, but for others across the State finding themselves in similar situations.”

According to the 2018 “Affordable Housing Appeals List” published by the State’s Department of Housing, East Haven currently has 1,253 units which are classified as affordable, equating to 7.96% of the Town’s housing stock. According to the same list, only ten other municipalities rank ahead of East Haven with a higher percentage of affordable housing while also failing to meet the ten percent mandate.

Zullo noted, “My first legislative proposal will allow, but not require, municipalities to offer up to a five-hundred dollar yearly tax abatement to any homeowner who purchases a single-family home after passage of the legislation using a ‘first-time homebuyer loan’ through the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA). The proposal would allow the abatement for up to five years.”

According to the State’s Department of Housing website, homes financed through CHFA count towards a municipality’s affordable housing stock. As of 2018, East Haven had 302 homes purchased with CHFA or U.S. Department of Agriculture loans.

Zullo explained, “In towns like East Haven, where our housing stock is already very affordable, my proposal will give purchasers an incentive to use CHFA loans to purchase properties, which will both encourage investment in our community and help the Town to more rapidly meet the State’s affordable housing mandate. The initiative would encourage investment in existing properties by new families, as opposed to the type of dense, new development we saw on Sperry Lane. It would also make the vast majority of the Town’s homes more desirable and salable.”

In East Haven, with budgeted tax collections of approximately $55.6 million in the current fiscal year, the proposed credit would reduce collections by $10,000.00 dollars, or just shy of two one-hundredths of a percent, assuming twenty homeowners took advantage of the credit.

Zullo noted, “The benefit of an additional twenty affordable housing units well outweighs the minuscule loss of tax revenue. On the same token, a five-hundred dollar tax credit is a meaningful savings for a first-time homebuyer.”

Zullo added, “My second proposal will seek to amend the State’s affordable housing statute to protect municipalities with an affordable housing stock of at least 7.5%, by shifting the burden of proof for developers who bring 8-30g applications that would result in an increase of more than 50 units, or two and half percent (whichever is higher), in a Town’s affordable housing stock. The amendment would only be applicable to municipalities like East Haven and a handful of others with at least a 7.5% affordable housing stock. However, it would help municipalities guard against overly dense proposals that often threaten to overdevelop neighborhoods and strain public resources.”

Zullo added, “This second proposal would act as a bridge for municipalities like East Haven who continue to inch closer to compliance with the State’s affordable housing mandate. It would also incentivize other municipalities, including twenty others which are currently within two percent of the proposed 7.5% threshold, to get to that bridge threshold.”

The 2020 session is slated to be what is colloquially termed a “short session,” with the result that bill proposals unrelated to the budget must be submitted as “concept bills” and drafted, approved, and introduced by the committees of cognizance for each bill.

Zullo concluded, “Understanding this is a short session, I will be working diligently with the appropriate committee chairpersons and my ranking members to try to shepherd these concepts through the committee and legislative processes.”

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(8) comments

Guest

Seems like in many suburban areas, a voter friendly politician in trying to placate the vocal locals (i.e. Milford) introduces a measure to weaken the Affordable Housing Statutes. This is the very reason why such statutes exist. People go to the suburbs to "get away from that stuff" (I have actually heard that said on more than a few occasions). This is about balancing housing choices in cities and towns. It is about balancing resources and not overburdening one community in favor of the other. It is about Fair Housing, and opportunity.

Guest

Where have you been? Nothing in life is fair. You have no problems with the suburbs being burdened with taxes that go to the cities. Every little breeze seems to whiser phony progressive socialist.

Guest

There are 3 simple steps to staying out of poverty. 1. Finish high school. 2. Wait till marriage to have a child. 3. Get a job, and give the employer more than what they're paid [which means you grow]. This from the Brookings Institute, a left wing place. People moved out of the cities in the late 60's because of increasing crime. If you want a cheap solution- do family reunification, like what John Wardlaw, at the Hartford Housing Authority, did. Each family reunified frees up a housing unit. PLUS, the kids are statistically far less likely to become criminals. The number one predictor for criminal behavior, is lack of father in the home. But this is too easy. They'd rather rage at the wind. Zip Code magic, i.e. shifting zip codes- is an illusion. Suburbs have good schools because both parents are involved in their children's education. 70% of black children, 50% of Hispanic kids, and 20% of white kids grow up in single parent families. I've been a single parent, for a while- it's difficult. In say the 1920's, Hartford, Bridgeport, were great places to live. What changed? Jobs moved away- and families fell apart. Fix this, and they are better places to live. People didn't fought affordable housing, before the societal unrest of the 60's. Expecting people not to fight against putting criminals in their neighborhoods- which, correct or not, is how they see it- is at best naive. About 20 years ago, the New Haven paper noted how the Housing Authority bought 3 houses for voucher holders. All 3 were torched, that night. By people in New Haven, not the burbs. Fix the social problems first, and the housing problems at least get easier.

Guest

I worked for the New Haven City Plan Department and Redevelopment Agency in the 1970s. When Mayor Logue pulled an agreed upon Tax Abatement Plan for Semi-luxury condos (Harbor Landing) he said he didn't want to subsidize the rich. I said if you don't subsidize the middle class and give them a reason to stay in the City, you will only have the poor. When they began gentrifying and building middle and upper middle class apartments, millennials came in. It brought back restaurants, bars and jobs. There is a lot more to it than meets the eye. Xenophobic "White Flight" built the suburbs. Now they are suffering because a lack of diverse housing limits the workforce, which is a large part of why jobs are going south. It is less of a racial thing and more of an economic issue. Latchkey kids because two parent homes have two workers and little supervision. Single parent homes make it tougher....when housing is too expensive, people leave.

Guest

"This is the very reason why such statutes exist. People go to the suburbs to "get away from that stuff" (I have actually heard that said on more than a few occasions). This is about balancing housing choices in cities and towns. It is about balancing resources and not overburdening one community in favor of the other. It is about Fair Housing, and opportunity."

No, it's not about fair housing. If housing was fair, there would be no debate. How "fair" is it to have the state move criminals and addicts into your neighborhood? "Fair" here means that some people get their housing almost free, don't have to work for it, contribute to community disorder, and do to the burbs what they've done to city neighborhoods. Which means those who can afford to will move again, to "get away from that stuff". Why not fix the problem in the cities? There are major urban problems- and you propose to spread those problems to the burbs, instead of fixing them. This is why Baltimore, and parts of Philadelphia, and Detroit, are so bad. Nothing was done about the social disorder. There was a time when living in Hartford, or Bridgeport, was really, really fashionable. Where is the proposal to cure the societal disorder? Without that, of course people are going to want to "get away from that".

Guest

It seems clear that there are developers who seek to use the technical language of the current statute merely to make a quick profit without any care at all what might happen either to the residents of the development or the people who live nearby.

It makes very good sense indeed to upgrade existing housing stock rather than cram lots of people into a small footprint in comparatively tiny apartments. These bills seem to make very good sense, especially the second one.

People take care of their own homes far better than tenants take care of someone else's property!

Guest

Homeowners are pretty much as liable, if not more so to store hazardous materials in their garages, flush chemicals down their toilets, etc. "It's my property, I can do what I want." Renters with 1st and last months security deposits are actually more circumspect. However, the 8-30g statute was intended to actually get private enterprise, WITH a profit motive to provide the housing opportunities needed for work force type housing. This, rather than typical Town or State Housing authorities which are often bloated, inefficient and manage less then desirable properties. The Statute is actually about getting Government OUT OF THE HOUSING business.

Guest

We have one of these developers in Branford. He uses affordable housing statutes to stuff his pockets and ram high-density developments down our throats. He has found that our cuckold P and Z can be frightened into granting him zone changes so he can build apartments on land not zoned for residential developments. Changes should be made to these housing laws. We can not expect our fearless Pand Z to protect us.

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