To ‘maintain self-reliance’ and increase Greenwich’s affordable housing stock, the RTM OK Housing Trust Fund

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GREENWICH – Private investors – including residents – have been given the green light to help Greenwich build more affordable housing.

On Monday evening, the representative city meeting approved the creation of a housing trust fund that will raise private funds and give them to developers to either build more affordable housing in the city or renovate them. existing units.

The hope is that access to trust fund money would work as a financial incentive to get developers to include affordable housing in their plans with the city’s contribution.

The creation of the fund had already obtained the approval of the Selection Council and the Town Planning and Zoning Commission; the motion to approve the RTM passed by 176 votes to 22 with five abstentions.

“The Affordable Housing Trust Fund is a demonstration of Greenwich’s history in terms of thoughtful and positive responses to the needs of its residents,” said Planning and Zoning Commission chairperson Margarita Alban. “The trust also illustrates the continued value of local solutions to local challenges. “

The plan is to have the fund in place by July 1. But before that, the RTM will need to approve a declaration of trust and create a seven-member board to oversee the funds. And there must be money in the account.

Next, the trust fund allocations must match Greenwich’s Affordable Housing Plan, which must also “specifically define the priorities for the funding of the trust project,” Alban said.

The fund debate focused on the number of trust fund board members – initially 11 were recommended – who would review allocations and how oversight would work.

“We felt that a smaller board, made up of members with very specific and focused skills would be the most efficient way to assess and review nominations,” said RTM Pro Tempore moderator Alexis Voulgaris. , who chaired the special committee.

The RTM will have the power to review trust fund allocations that are $ 500,000 or more, but any vote rejecting the private fund allocation will require a two-thirds majority. The chairman of the board of directors must present an annual report to the RTM to summarize the work of the trust.

Connecticut’s lack of affordable housing has recently come under intense scrutiny with several bills considered in the last legislative session to force suburban communities to include more of it in construction projects. The bills have raised concerns in Greenwich, as well as other municipalities, over what is seen as a loss of local control and the imposition of Hartford warrants.

Greenwich must have at least 10 percent of its housing classified as affordable, a threshold the city has failed to meet. The developers have proposed large-scale projects in town with some units designated as affordable to take advantage of the current law which allows certain developments to override local zoning regulations if they include affordable units. Critics said such projects would destroy the city’s character.

“Huge units and increased traffic and population congestion would become the norm,” said District 1 member Frederic Lee Jr. “Everything we love and appreciate about Greenwich would be a thing of the past. Having the affordable trust fund and working with the Greenwich Housing Authority would mitigate this by increasing our affordable housing stock, avoiding overdevelopment and overcrowding, and maintaining the house rule where Greenwich would be able to decide what works for Greenwich.

“It really is a stylish and efficient way to develop housing and get closer to (10% threshold),” said Brooks Harris, RTM Member, RTM Finance Committee Member and Special Committee. “But this is really only the first step. This will have to be supplemented by other things.

Among his suggestions: floating municipal bonds, tax relief and progressive tax financing.

Lee said having the trust fund would also help build housing for Greenwich employees who currently cannot afford to live in the city.

State Senator Ryan Fazio, R-36, who also serves in RTM District 12, said the trust fund is “the best alternative we have before us to assert local control.”

kborsuk@greenwichtime.com


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