Affordable Housing (CT General Statute 8-30g)
FAQs related to CT General Statute 8-30g
1 - What is 8-30g?
Connecticut General Statutes § 8-30g, also known as the Affordable Housing Land Use Appeals Procedure, was enacted in 1989 as a way to facilitate the construction of affordable housing, particularly in communities that did not already have a large supply of affordable units.
Under this Statute, developers of certain types of affordable housing projects may override local zoning in municipalities where less than 10% of the housing units meets the statute’s definition of affordable. In order to be eligible, developers must “set aside” not less than 30% of the dwelling units as affordable for a period of not less than forty (40) years. In these so-called set aside developments, not less than fifteen percent (15%) of the units must be affordable to persons or households with incomes at or below sixty percent (60%) of the area median income, while the balance need to be affordable to households earning less than or equal to 80% of the area median income.
CGS 8-30g shifts the burden of proof from the applicant to the municipality. In order to reject an 8-30g application, the municipality must prove, based upon the evidence presented, that: (a) the denial was necessary to protect substantial public interests in health, safety, or other matters that the municipality may legally consider; (b) these public interests clearly outweigh the need for affordable housing; and (c) the public interests cannot be protected by reasonable changes to the proposed affordable housing development.
2 - Why is 8-30g at the forefront now?
Housing costs and affordability have been an issue for quite some time. Fairfield’s first Affordable Housing Plan in 1988 recognized that housing was increasingly becoming unaffordable for many young adults, elderly persons on fixed incomes and other segments of the population. In the three decades since, the disparity has become even more pronounced as housing prices have increased faster than many household incomes.
Additionally, in recent years there has been a renewed focus at the State level on housing affordability and the effects of segregation in the housing market, culminating in efforts to address these issues through legislation. At the same time, the Covid-19 pandemic created a surge in demand for housing in smaller towns and suburban communities like Fairfield. The housing inventory is at an all-time low, creating the need for additional housing to meet demand. This is supported by the fact that newly constructed rental developments lease up very quickly for both below market and market rate units.
In parallel with the active real estate market, there has been a dramatic acceleration in 8-30g projects. For the first twenty years after 8-30g became law, the Town saw only one application made under 8-30g. In the last ten years, the Town Plan & Zoning Commission has considered and rendered decisions on twenty-two 8-30g applications, with ten of these applications occurring in the past two years.
3 - Is the Planning & Zoning Commission able to deny 8-30g applications?
An 8-30g project can be denied only on very narrow grounds – i.e., if the project creates significant health, safety or other concerns that outweigh the town’s need for affordable housing. Moreover, these concerns must be substantiated based on the evidence in the public record.
Projects cannot be rejected for their inconsistency with a Town’s Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) or its Zoning Regulations, nor based on generalized concerns related to a project’s density, size, height, design, compatibility with surrounding properties or the character of the community, or the project’s impacts related to traffic congestion or local schools.
8-30g proposals are rarely denied by planning and zoning officials because the burden of proof on appeal rests solely with the Town. Appeals are costly, but a municipality can be successful in a court case if it has sufficiently established that the concerns leading to the denial are factual and substantive.
4 - What is the record on 8-30g approvals or rejections in Fairfield?
Since the 8-30g statute became law, Fairfield’s Plan & Zoning Commission has considered and rendered judgement on twenty-three set aside development projects, ten of which have occurred in the last two years. Of the twenty-three applications considered, the Commission approved sixteen projects either outright or with conditions. A further three projects were denied but subsequently approved on appeal. Four projects were denied and either withdrawn or in two instances, the Commission’s decision was upheld by the Court on appeal. Of the nineteen projects approved, only six have been built to date covering a total of 167 housing units, of which 97 units are affordable. A further two projects are under construction as of this writing. You can view a summary of the Affordable Housing applications that the Town has considered under 8-30g and those that have been constructed to date here.
5 - What is Fairfield’s affordable housing situation now?
Fairfield was among the first communities in the State to establish an Affordable Housing Committee (1986) and develop an affordable housing plan (1989). In the early years, the Town made available Town property, partnered with local non-profits and provided seed capital to create new housing opportunities. More recently and in the wake of the 2014 Plan update, the Town has adopted an inclusionary zoning regulation that requires developers to set aside at least ten percent of their units as below market housing; amended its regulations to make it easier to create accessory dwelling units; and established a dedicated affordable housing trust fund, financed in part through an inclusionary zoning fee on new construction and building additions.
Each municipality is now required to prepare and adopt an affordable housing plan and update it every five years thereafter. In accordance with this law, Fairfield just completed and submitted to the State an update to its 2014 Affordable Housing Plan. You can view a copy of the recently adopted 2022-2027 Affordable Housing Plan here.
According to the most recent report, 2.81% of Fairfield’s housing stock (608 units) is considered by the State to be affordable. This represents an increase of fifty-two units from the year prior. Despite these efforts and the progress that has been made, the Town Is still vulnerable to applications made under 8-30g.
6 - What is Affordable Housing?
The State considers housing to be affordable if total housing costs do not exceed 30% of household income for persons or families whose annual income does not exceed the lesser of the statewide or area median income (AMI). At present, a family of four making less than $80,480 per year or an individual making less than $56,336 per year could qualify for affordable housing in Fairfield.
7 - Are there towns in CT that are exempt from 8-30g requirements?
Yes. As of the most recent report, thirty-one municipalities have attained the 10% affordable housing threshold and are exempt from 8-30g set aside applications. The number of exempt municipalities has remained fairly constant since 8-30g or the Affordable Housing Land Use Appeals Procedure was first enacted.
8 - What is an 8-30g moratorium?
State law allows municipalities to apply for and receive a temporary four-year moratorium, formally known as a “Certificate of Affordable Housing Completion,” during which time the municipality is exempt from most affordable housing developments proposed under 8-30g. Moratoria do not apply to affordable housing applications where at least 95% of the units are affordable to households earning less than or equal to sixty percent (60%) of the area median income or government-assisted housing projects of less than forty (40) units.
Larger municipalities with more than 20,000 housing units, such as Fairfield, can accumulate additional Housing Unit Equivalent points to apply for and receive a subsequent moratorium, which is valid for five years and requires a lower point threshold to qualify.
9 - How is eligibility for a moratorium determined?
A municipality is eligible to apply for a moratorium if it can show that it has added affordable housing units, measured in Housing Unit Equivalent (HUE) points, equal to the greater of 2% of the total number of housing units as of the last decennial census or 75 HUE points. Housing Unit Equivalent points are determined based on a formula that assigns points depending upon the type of unit developed and the maximum qualifying income. The highest points (2.5), are reserved for rental units that are restricted for those earning not more than 40% of the area median income.
Only units that have been newly constructed or deed restricted after July 1, 1990 (the date CGS 8-30g took effect) are eligible for Housing Unit Equivalent points. Unfortunately for Fairfield, the Town has a number of affordable housing developments that do not qualify for Housing Unit Equivalent points because they were built/deed restricted prior to July 1, 1990. This includes developments like Parish Court and Sullivan McKinley.
For more information on how HUE points are calculated, click here.
10 - What are the prospects of Fairfield obtaining a moratorium?
If all of the projects currently approved by the Town were to be constructed and to receive a Certificate of Occupancy, Fairfield would have more than enough Housing Unit Equivalent points to qualify for a moratorium. At present, Fairfield has amassed an estimated 382.5 Housing Unit Equivalent points to date out of the 433 HUE points needed to apply for a moratorium, leaving it at least fifty points shy of qualifying for a moratorium. You can view the most recent moratorium status report here.
The Town has also worked to acquire parcels of property to build affordable housing using the Housing Trust Fund. Currently the Town is working with Habitat for Humanity to construct four affordable units on Greenfield Street. Similarly, the Town is working to redevelop the former military housing site on Reef Road to preserve existing affordable home ownership units and add new housing where feasible.
11 - Who can I contact about the law?
Since 8-30g is a State law, you should contact your State Representative and State Senator. Fairfield’s State Delegation