Dec 11, 2013
08:11 AM
The Connecticut Story

Lack of Affordable Housing Fuels Connecticut Homelessness

Lack of Affordable Housing Fuels Connecticut Homelessness

Catherine Yeulet/istock

Connecticut’s battle to bring down the number of homeless people living in shelters or on the streets has been hampered by a dearth of affordable housing, according to the Partnership for Strong Communities.

At a time when the nation’s homeless population is in steady decline, the number of homeless people in Connecticut has increased.

During the last three years, the state’s homeless population has risen from 4,316 to 4,448, according to data collected in January and released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development last month.

Central to the state’s struggles to reduce the number of homeless people has been stubbornly high housing costs and the shortfall in Connecticut’s affordable housing stock.

“We definitely have an affordable-housing shortage,” said Alicia Woodsby, deputy director for Partnership for Strong Communities. “We are creating a lot of affordable housing, we just are creating more of it for people at the higher end of the affordable-housing range.”

The state is building affordable housing; it just isn’t affordable enough for those most in need, Woodsby said.

For households earning just under the median income, the state is short more than 82,000 affordable-housing units. For those whose household incomes are only 30 percent of the state’s median income, there is a shortage of more than 90,000 affordable-housing units, according to a 2013 report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

“Of all the resources going into affordable housing, less than 1 percent is reaching the most needy,” Woods­by said.

The shortage means Connecticut’s most needy families spend the lion’s share of their income on housing, in a state that ranks sixth in housing costs, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Across the state more than 98,000 families spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing; 40 percent are spending more than 30 percent on housing, according to HUD.

The recession has only made it harder for poor families to afford housing.

“Homelessness has been going up since before the recession,” said Roger Senserrich, policy analyst for the Connecticut Association for Human Services. “Connecticut is the second most unequal state in the country. Even though Connecticut is a wealthy state, the poverty is concentrated in a few cities, and for those at the bottom the issue is getting worse.”

For more, visit the New Haven Register online.


Lack of Affordable Housing Fuels Connecticut Homelessness

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