by John Dankosky – Tomorrow, a new legislative session gets underway, with a $515-million deficit hanging over the state, and bigger budget holes to come. With that unpleasant task ahead, a lame-duck governor, and increasingly partisan politics driven by an election year, it seems unlikely that any “big structural changes” will take place.
But, in the field of housing, there does seem to be some positive movement. The Partnership for Strong Communities has put together a series of forums about different aspects of housing policy, and what fixes are needed to help the state thrive.
Interestingly, this project has brought together entities from all over the spectrum: The Connecticut Business and Industry Association, the State Department of Economic and Community Development, the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, and more.
Their meeting last week at the Lyceum (part of the wonderful Billings Forge development) addressed “Housing and the Workforce: Eliminating Barriers, Growing Labor Pool, Meeting Demand.” Among their proposals: More affordable housing stock for young workers, removing regulatory barriers, integrating housing plans with transit development.
On today’s Where We Live, we’ll get inside some of these proposals with DECD Commissioner Joan McDonald, and the Partnership’s Diane Randall. We’ll look at what other states are doing, and whether any of this will get traction in a bad budget year – with seemingly no will, or money, to get anything done. As CTMirror’s Jackie Rabe reported, the Partnership’s well-intentioned, long-term planning might be DOA at the Capitol:
Young workers are leaving Connecticut at alarming rates, in part because of the lack of affordable housing.
But House Majority Leader Denise W. Merrill and the chairman of the state’s Planning and Development Committee Brendan J. Sharkey said Wednesday the state can and should do only so much to address the problem.
“There’s no money. And there’s not going to be any money,” Sharkey told a group of elected officials, builders, employers, developers and city planners.
Because of the state’s dire financial situation, Sharkey quickly dismissed any of the proposals circulating the room that would cost the state money.
“In case you didn’t hear, we are broke,” the Hamden Democrat said. “We cannot afford the level of government we have now.”
Holding up the list of proposed policy changes made by The Partnership for Strong Communities, Sharkey said more than half are off-limits because they would result in the state spending money it does not have.
“Did I mention we are broke?” he reiterated.
Courant columnist Rick Green was encouraged by the meeting, which was also attended, Green reports, by a few gubernatorial candidates…there to listen to the ideas. Given the way things are going, we might have to wait until that next governor takes office to see movement on the housing front.