Malloy vetoes affordable housing bill that local legislators fought for

Governor Dannel P. Malloy has vetoed legislation that Milford legislators said would have helped municipalities like Milford control the placement of affordable housing, but which Malloy said would have weakened affordable housing standards in the state.

In vetoing the bill, Malloy said in a press release that the guidelines are necessary for spurring the creation of affordable homes in communities with good schools, jobs, transit access and vital services.

The legislation, House Bill 6880 – An Act Concerning the Affordable Housing Land Use Appeals Procedure, would have made it easier for cities and towns to qualify for moratoriums on appeals of local zoning denials under the housing statute known as 8-30g that encourages municipalities to ensure a certain amount of their housing stock is deemed affordable.

“Every resident of Connecticut should have access to housing they can afford in the town where they work,” Malloy wrote in a veto message to the Secretary of the State. “So, too, should everyone be able to live affordably in the town that they choose, with access to good schools, safe neighborhoods, and basic services, regardless of their race, ethnicity or income.”

State Sen. Gayle Slossberg and State Rep. Kim Rose had championed the bill in response to complaints from Milford residents that developers have been taking advantage of the state law to squeeze dense housing into residential neighborhoods.

Slossberg called it a “common sense reform” that would have allowed Milford to count the Ryder Woods mobile-home community toward an application for an affordable housing moratorium, as well as other measures.

“People in Milford and across Connecticut have been calling for common-sense reforms to our affordable housing statutes, and I am deeply disappointed that Governor Malloy has chosen to ignore them,” Slossberg said. “The governor’s veto message shows a real lack of understanding of the specific workings of this statute and of the need for reform. Connecticut is the only state that allows private developers to site their developments wherever they choose. States that do not give this disproportionate power to housing developers have been much more successful than Connecticut in developing affordable housing.”

Rose said she is disheartened at the governor’s veto of the bi-partisan bill she championed in the House of Representatives and argued that the bill would have protected towns and cities from predatory development while encouraging the development of affordable housing throughout the state.

“Nothing in this bill would have hindered the building of affordable housing so I am very disappointed at this veto and the governor’s total disregard for our neighborhoods in Milford that have been suffering from continued unscrupulous development,” Rose said in a prepared statement. “Over seven years of work to negotiate sensible changes to SS8-30g and to help Milford reach a moratorium have been effectively postponed with this veto. We struggled to craft a bill that would help Milford, yet not jeopardize the building of affordable housing throughout the state. While I am disillusioned with this setback, I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in the Senate to accomplish what my constituents have been asking for so long.”

State Reps. Pam Staneski and Charles Ferraro also issued statements saying they are not happy with the governor’s veto.

“Towns like Milford are getting overrun with affordable housing applications,” Staneski said. “This legislation was a modest step towards affordable housing reform which hoped to offer towns an attainable goal of developing and reaching a moratorium. I call on all my colleagues in the General Assembly to push for an override of the governor’s veto. The voices of Milford residents and the state should not be silenced.”

Ferraro also said he will work to override the veto.

Each year the legislature has a veto session to consider whether to override vetoes by the governor, the representatives said. An override requires a two-thirds vote by each chamber (House & Senate) which would mean the House of Representatives would need 101 votes and the Senate would need 24 votes.

Mayor Ben Blake said that as the law is currently drafted, the city isn't getting proper credit for the affordable housing that exists here.

“As a mature community dating back to 1639, many of our affordable properties were developed prior to the law’s cut-off, which only credits those affordable units that were deed restricted after 1990," Blake said. "This artificial statutory condition distorts the actual affordability of Milford’s housing stock.”

Others on Friday issued statements in support of the governor’s veto.

The Partnership for Strong Communities and the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness applauded the move.

“Time after time, Governor Malloy has demonstrated he understands that a safe, secure and affordable home is the foundation of opportunity,” the groups said in a joint press release. “The 8-30g statute is a vital tool in expanding such opportunity for workers, families and young professionals in municipalities across Connecticut. A larger supply of affordable homes is essential for maintaining Connecticut’s progress in fighting chronic homelessness and ending homelessness for families with children by the end of 2020 – our current statewide goal.”

They said that since it was first enacted by the General Assembly, the law has created more than 5,000 affordable homes in towns with high-resource schools and services and more than twice as many modest market-rate condos, townhouses and apartments alongside them in 8-30g developments.

“The law has given developers the right to build affordable homes in communities that otherwise wouldn't have allowed those developments, while protecting towns that could legitimately prove the developments would threaten public health or safety,” they said.