EAST HAVEN — A bill proposal currently before the State Legislature’s “Planning and Development” committee that would help encourage affordable housing without relying on dense, often controversial new development, is gaining momentum.
On Wednesday, the State’s Planning and Development Committee heard testimony in support of House Bill 6558: An Act Concerning Property Tax Abatement for First Time Home Buyers. Proposed by East Haven State Representative Joe Zullo (R-99), the “ranking member” on the Planning and Development Committee, the bill would allow municipalities to give a five-hundred dollar ($500.00) yearly property tax abatement, for up to five years, to first-time homebuyers who purchase a home through the Connecticut Housing and Finance Authority’s (CHFA) first-time homebuyer loan program.
Zullo explained, “My proposal, as opposed to relying on building new, dense, often controversial developments, empowers towns to leverage their existing and naturally occurring affordable housing stock to create housing opportunities for first-time homebuyers.”
Zullo added, “First-time homebuyers benefit because they receive a valuable, five year tax abatement of five-hundred dollars per year, which meaningfully helps in terms of offsetting monthly housing costs and reducing barriers to acquisition. Municipalities benefit because homes financed through the CHFA program count toward towns’ affordable housing figures, helping towns gain compliance with the State’s 8-30g affordable housing framework without relying on dense, new development.”
In addition to garnering support within Rep. Zullo’s caucus, the bill has gained support from across the aisle, including from Rep. Aundre Gumbardner, a Democrat representing Connecticut’s 41st assembly district who has cosponsored the bill. On Wednesday, the bill gained key support from the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA), Connecticut’s largest business association which supports innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders.
“CBIA supports this bill because it is a creative solution that would help to create more affordable housing options for workers in Connecticut. One of the major issues impeding the growth of Connecticut businesses is the lack of affordable housing options in Connecticut. Currently our State has 102,000 jobs open. In order to keep jobs in-state, we must have affordable housing options for our workforce,” commented Peter Myers, a Public Policy Associate for the CBIA.
To qualify for the proposed property tax abatement, first-time homebuyers must purchase their home with financial support from the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA). According to its website, CHFA is a "quasi-public organization" committed to "[alleviating] the shortage of housing for low- to moderate-income families and persons in this state" and to “[maintaining] the economic development of this state through employer-assisted housing efforts.”
Myers added, "At a time where one of the biggest issues we hear is how we can maintain and bring workers to Connecticut, we need an affordable housing option to do that. I believe that [H.B. 6658] will help create an affordable housing option, especially for first-time homebuyers."
Zullo explained, “I am excited to see this proposal is gaining momentum and hopeful it will pass smoothly through the committee and house approval processes. This is a permissive solution, as opposed to a mandate, and it leverages existing tools to break down barriers to acquisition for first-time homebuyers and helps towns better comply with the State’s 8-30g affordable housing framework.”
Zullo concluded, “I appreciate all of my colleagues who have supported the bill to-date, along with the enthusiastic support from the CBIA. I look forward to continuing to push for this proposal to become law so that we can give towns across the State a meaningful, new tool to empower first-time buyers.”