Affordable Housing Units (CT Gen. Statute 8-30g)
What is Section 8-30g?
Since 1989, Section 8-30g of the Connecticut General Statutes, the “Connecticut Affordable Housing Land Use Appeals Procedure,” has promoted the development of low-cost housing with long-term affordability protections. 8-30g includes an appeals procedure to override local zoning denials of affordable housing proposals without just cause: 8-30g ensures that municipalities cannot deny an affordable housing proposal unless there is a specific significant health or safety concern. The burden of proof for this concern is placed on the municipality. If the State Department of Housing has designated at least 10% of a community’s housing stock is as “affordable,” that community is exempt from the appeals requirement.
Please find more information on Connecticut General Statute 8-30g on the State of Connecticut’s website:
Affordable Housing Unit (CGS 8-30g) Income Limits:
CGS 8-30g Income Limits and Rental Limits are calculated using the State’s Annual Median Salary which is currently $112,600 (updated April 18, 2022) according to the HUD website.
There are two types of affordable units in the set-aside developments in Town, 60% units and 80% units. These units are deed restricted to households earning 80% or 60% of State Median Income or Area Median Income whichever is lower. The calculations are adjusted for family size. Please find the 2022 Income Limits and Rental Limits here.
- There are no available units at this time.
How to apply for an 8-30g Affordable unit:
FAQs related to CT General Statute 8-30g
May 30, 2022 (revised)
1 - What is 8-30g? When was it first enacted?
CT State Statute 8-30g, enacted in 1989, sets a goal that 10% of each municipality’s housing stock qualify as “affordable” housing. If the 10% target is not met, developers may propose projects that are not subject to local zoning regulations.
The language of 8-30g shifts the burden of proof from a project’s applicant to the municipality which, in order to deny an 8-30g application, must prove, based upon the evidence compiled before them, that (a) the decision was necessary to protect substantial public interests in health, safety, or other matters the municipality may legally consider; (b) the public interests clearly outweigh the need for affordable housing; and (c) public interests cannot be protected by reasonable changes to the affordable housing development.
2 - Why is 8-30g at the forefront now?
The topics of affordable housing and segregation in housing gained nationwide attention in 2021. In CT, there were many bills proposed in the last legislative session, culminating in a bill which was approved by the legislature and is now referred to as Substitute for Raised H.B. No. 6107, Public Act 21-29: An Act Concerning the Zoning Enabling Act, Accessory Apartments, Training for Certain Land Use Officials, Municipal Affordable Housing Plans and a Commission on Connecticut's Development and Future. At the same time, the Covid-19 pandemic created a surge in demand for housing in smaller towns and suburbs.
Another plausible reason that there has been a surge in 8-30g projects in Greenwich is that the real estate market here has been quite robust (860 single family homes were sold in 2020 and 1,001 in 2021, compared to an average of 588 from 2013-2019). The housing inventory is at an all-time low, creating the need for additional housing to meet demand.
In parallel with the active real estate market, there has been a dramatic acceleration in 8-30g projects. From the time the 8-30g statute was enacted in 1989 until around mid-2021, a period of more than 30 years, P&Z reviewed ten 8-30g applications. In contrast, in the past few months, another half a dozen projects have been proposed, and there apparently are many more in the works.
3 - Why do developers use 8-30g?
The zoning regulations of towns throughout CT restrict the size and location of multi-family buildings. This generally reflects goals to preserve community scale but also to address environmental challenges and pressure on ageing infrastructure systems.
Developers can avail themselves of the 8-30g statute to bypass local zoning regulations. In particular, the statute allows them to build more market rate units to offset the profit lost from providing the 30% affordable units.
4 - 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 it presents health, safety or other concerns that exceed a town’s need for affordable housing.
According to the TOG website, “projects cannot be rejected for incompatibility with a Town’s Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD); density; traffic congestion; height; aesthetics; concerns of neighbors or the community; and failure to comply with local zoning regulations.”
8-30g proposals are rarely denied by planning and zoning officials because the burden of proof on appeal is on 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 denial are factual and substantive.
5 - Have there been instances in which the courts in CT have overturned 8-30g applications?
Very few. Since 8-30g was enacted more than 30 years ago, there have been only a relatively small number of cases per year statewide opposing such projects, although this may change, as 8-30g projects are much more numerous now.
Developers are believed to have won in a majority of cases (although, unfortunately, there is no database to document these instances). There are anecdotal reports that developers have won in some 75-80% of cases.
Generally, according to the law, the most that can be expected by complainants, even after lengthy and costly appeals, is to obtain some concessions from a developer – e.g., perhaps a reduced number of floors or fewer units.
6 - What is the record on 8-30g approvals or rejections in Greenwich?
Since the 8-30g statute was first enacted in 1989, P&Z has reviewed ten projects, mainly in recent years. Five were approved. Four were initially denied but were later approved with less density through settlement agreements. One, which was initially denied more than five years ago (see #7 below) is still under appeal.* [Footnote: 62 Byram Terrace, 74 Byram Terrace Drive, 171, 180 and 303 Hamilton Avenue and 4 Orchard Street were all approved. 2 Dearfield Drive, 124 Ritch Avenue, 2 Homestead Lane and 143 Sound Beach Ave were initially denied but later approved with modifications. 345 East Putnam is under appeal.]
So, Greenwich is generally in line with the statewide experience of having developers prevail in a majority of cases.
7 - Why was the Post Road Ironworks project able to be initially denied and on what grounds?
The Post Road Ironworks development, an 8-30g project at 345 West Putnam Avenue proposed 355 units, 107 of which would have been affordable, was turned down by P&Z in September 2016, mainly on the grounds of wetlands and other environmental issues on a property that had been operated as a foundry since the 1920s. The wetlands case was upheld by the Court and the P&Z case is still pending.
Indeed, wetlands issues are the major area where local zoning prevails over 8-30g considerations.
8 - What is Greenwich’s affordable housing situation now?
About 5.3% of Greenwich’s housing stock (1,380 units) is currently considered affordable. As of now, 1,140 more affordable units would be required to reach the State of CT’s 10% requirement.
With the ratio of 30% affordable / 70% market rate units mandated for set-aside developments under 8-30g, Greenwich would have to construct 3,800 new overall units with 1,140 affordable units to reach 10%.
Greenwich has made slow but steady progress. Over the past two decades, from 2002-2020, the affordable housing stock in Greenwich increased by just under 1 per cent (.96%), whereas the State as a whole was relatively flat (at -.11%). The percentage of affordable housing in Greenwich is above the average, below the median, and places the town more or less in the middle – at #72 out of 169 municipalities.
Greenwich must submit an affordable housing plan to Hartford by June 30, 2022. Currently, Chair Margarita Alban and Bob Barolak from P&Z and Town Planner Katie DeLuca are working on a draft that will be available for public comment in coming months.
9 - What are some of the specifics regarding “set-aside” developments for affordable housing in CT?
Set-aside developments, for the purposes of 8-30g, consist of projects in which 30% of units are designated for low-income renters – half of whom earn 80% of the State Median Income (SMI) adjusted for family size, which is around $63,056 for a single person, and the other half of whom earn 60% of SMI ($47,292).
Rent, including utilities, for qualifying households can be no more than 30% of income thresholds.
Deed restrictions regarding the affordable units within a development must be maintained for 40 years. Housing that is relatively affordable but that is not restricted for 40 years is not counted. Housing that was created prior to 1990 also does not count towards a town’s 10%.
Low-income renters have access to affordable units, which are of equal quality and size as the market rate units.
Opponents of the current statutes have argued that criteria should be based on the local Area Median Income (AMI), i.e., that of Fairfield County (the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk-Danbury metropolitan statistical area) rather than that of the entire State. This would increase the profit for developers from higher rents and might in turn reduce the overall size of a development. This is one of the key elements of the proposed Affordable Housing Trust (AHT). (See #24).
10 - Are there towns in CT that are exempt from 8-30g requirements?
Yes. Stamford, which has just under 16% affordable housing, along with 30 other CT municipalities that have attained the 10% affordable housing threshold, are exempt from 8-30g statutes. The city with the highest proportion of affordable units is Hartford, at nearly 40%.
11 - What is an 8-30g moratorium?
A moratorium, formally known as a “Certificate of Affordable Housing Completion” – a concept that was approved in 2000 in the CT legislature, enables a town to have a four-year window in which to be exempted from and potentially deny 8-30g projects. However, during this four-year period, towns are expected to continue to develop affordable housing strategies.
Towns such as Darien that have received a second moratorium have an additional five years in which to be exempted from 8-30g.
For more information on CT Moratoria Granted under CGS 8-30g, click here.
12 - Do other towns in CT have moratoria?
Six towns in CT currently have moratoria: Brookfield, New Canaan, Suffield and Westport have their first moratorium. Darien and Milford are on their second moratorium. Seven municipalities (including Darien and Milford) had moratoria that have now expired.
13 - How is eligibility for a moratorium determined?
A municipality is eligible for a moratorium if it can show that it has added affordable housing units, measured in Housing Unit Equivalent (HUE) points, equaling the greater of 2% of the housing stock or 75 HUE points.* [Footnote: HUE points are determined according to a formula. The highest point earned, 2.5, is for rental units restricted to 40% of median income; the lowest, .25 points, is for market-rate units in a “set-aside development”.]
For more information on how HUE points are calculated, click here.
14 - What are the prospects of Greenwich obtaining a moratorium?
Greenwich is highly unlikely to be able to obtain a moratorium in the next five years. The town website notes that it currently has 35 HUE points and would need some 512 points to qualify. In other words, several hundred affordable housing units would have to be made available soon for Greenwich to qualify.
The vast majority (97%) of affordable housing units in Greenwich today are in the category of “assisted housing” (See #21) and count toward the 10% affordable housing requirement. However, those units do not count going forward to obtain the Housing Unit Equivalent (HUE) points needed to obtain a moratorium, since most were constructed prior to 1990. Indeed, two of the larger affordable housing developments, Armstrong Court and Wilbur Peck Court, with a total of 254 units, were constructed in 1951 and 1953, respectively.
The Town of Greenwich might be able to receive a moratorium faster if Greenwich Communities (formerly the Greenwich Housing Authority) undertook some significant projects, as they would count as 100% affordable.
15 - What about the argument that the 8-30g process is constantly moving the goalposts regarding achieving affordable housing goals?
This argument is correct. By continuing to construct new 8-30g developments in which 70% of units are market rate, along with the ongoing development of other types of housing, the total housing stock (i.e., the denominator) is continuing to increase, making the 10% affordable goal increasingly elusive. For this reason, projects with higher affordability ratios such as those constructed by Greenwich Communities can be helpful.
16 - What is an example?
If the Church Street / Sherwood Place project, with a total of 192 units, and the 5 Brookridge Drive project, with a total of 86 units, were to be constructed as proposed, the town would gain 83 affordable units and 195 market rate units added to the town’s total housing stock.
17 - What 8-30g projects have been approved recently in Greenwich or are in various stages of being considered by P&Z?
4 Orchard Street in Cos Cob, consisting of 15 total units, 30% of which will be affordable, was approved in February 2021 and is currently under construction.
171 Hamilton Avenue in Chickahominy, with 6 total units, 2 of which will be affordable, was approved in March 2021. (In 2018, 180 Hamilton Avenue with 10 total units and 303 Hamilton Avenue with 15 total units both with 30% affordable units were approved).
143 Sound Beach Avenue in Old Greenwich, consisting of 34 units, 1 of which will be affordable and 3 of which will be moderate income (6-110) (See #18) was approved through settlement in 2019.
A pre-application for a 192-unit development on Church Street / Sherwood Place, with 30% affordable units, was brought before P&Z in September 2021. Also in September, P&Z heard a proposal, under 8-30g, exploring the conversion of the Greenwich Woods nursing home at 1165 King St into 162 apartments with 30% affordable units.
In November 2021, an application was submitted for a final site plan for a 20-unit 8-30g development at 1143 East Putnam Avenue / Sheephill Road, which would include 6 affordable units. That application is currently before wetlands (IWWA).
Three units on the roof of the Shreve, Crump and Low building at 125 Greenwich Avenue, one of which would be affordable, was proposed at a P&Z meeting in December 2021.
5 Brookridge Drive, with a total of 86 units, went before P&Z with a pre-application in early January 2022. At the same P&Z meeting, an 8-30g development at 111 Mill Street in Byram, with a total of 27 units, was also discussed.
240 Greenwich Avenue, with a total of 60 units, 18 of which would be affordable, just came in as a pre-application and will be heard this year.
74 Byram Terrace Drive, with 1 affordable unit was approved April 2019.
62 Byram Terrace Drive, with 1 affordable unit was approved July 2019.
18 - What is 6-110 housing and how does it differ from 8-30g projects?
Section 6-110 housing, or workforce housing, is a housing regulation originally adopted more than 30 years ago under the aegis of the Greenwich Building Zone Regulations. Section 6-110 uses the median annual salary of all Town and Board of Education employees to calculate income eligibility and rental limits.
Changes were made to the regulations in 2015, but after several projects came in under that change (e.g., 143 Sound Beach Avenue in Old Greenwich, 62 Mason Street, two projects on West Putnam Avenue, one on East Putnam Avenue and one on Sheephill Road), P&Z enacted a 12-month moratorium, giving them time to re-consider such projects. Apparently, although many concessions were offered, developers considered 6-110 regulations to be too onerous, while residents felt that some of the 6-110 projects were too bulky in design. (This moratorium was able to be enacted since it was a town regulation, not State law).
Under a text amendment approved by P&Z in April 2021, when more than 5 units are proposed for development in Greenwich, the project is required to have a below market rate component. As in the case of affordable housing, deed restrictions on the below market units must be maintained for 40 years.
Following the rewrite of the regulation, the moratorium is no longer in force. Three projects are in the process of construction under the regulations in force prior to April 2021.
Although moderate income workforce housing would be greatly beneficial to the town, it is not considered affordable housing by State definition, hence it does not count toward achieving the 10% affordable housing goal.
19 - What about accessory apartments?
Accessory dwelling units (ADUs), consisting of in-law suites, guest cottages, garage apartments and so forth, were approved in the last CT legislative session to be permitted “as of right” under CT Senate House Bill 6107, Public Act 21-29.
It is of notable importance that CT municipalities have the right to opt out of this mandate following votes by their Board of Selectmen, P&Z and their RTM (if they have one).
Greenwich has had Regulations for accessory apartments since 1987. They are categorized under senior and affordable units, and such applications are “as of right”, which means that they do not have to be approved by the Planning & Zoning Commission. As of 2020, there were around 100 legal ADUs in Greenwich. However, only 10 of these are deed restricted as affordable with income and rental limits, hence can be counted as affordable housing by the State.
Theoretically, ADUs can contribute to the mix of housing and provide potentially less expensive housing for some town residents, particularly the elderly. However, the mandate in PA 21-29 would mean that market rate rental units, pool houses and guest houses could be added to all single family properties, thus increasing residential density without adding affordability.
To be considered affordable housing, the ADUs would have to adhere to the State’s strict income criteria regarding rent and income eligibility. It would have to be rented to a person or household at or below 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI); moreover, the restrictions would also have to be in place for up to 10 years. (It has been suggested that a resident willing to rent an ADU at an affordable rate could perhaps receive a tax break.)
20 - What about all the naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAH) in Greenwich that is provided by Greenwich Hospital, private schools, country clubs, and so forth?
Although the hospital, private schools and country clubs in Greenwich have a substantial amount of relatively affordable housing, it does not count towards CT affordable housing requirements, since it is not accessible to the general public. Moreover, many of the teachers in particular have incomes higher than the State Median Income (SMI) threshold.
Greenwich also has a number of affordable apartments that are not counted because the landlords have not guaranteed their affordability for a 40-year period. Some residents would like to see 8-30g regulations revised to include these units. However, success would represent a significant administrative burden to the town: i.e., having to review somewhere between 8,000 to 12,000 lease documents each year.
However, although a long shot, this is one area where changes to the law could perhaps be contemplated.
21 - Under CT State law, besides “set-aside” development under 8-30g, are there additional types of affordable housing?
Yes, there is “assisted housing.” If a property is receiving a governmental subsidy, whether rental, mortgage or other, then the CT Department of Housing (DOH) will count the number of units being assisted as “affordable.” This determination is made annually by DOH.
The vast majority – indeed, 97% of affordable units in Greenwich fall under this rubric. Currently, 879 units, or just under two-thirds of the total, consist of governmentally assisted units counted by the State. These include congregate living facilities under the aegis of such entities as Pathways, Abilis and Kids in Crisis, but mainly include the multiple facilities owned and maintained by Greenwich Communities. * [Footnote: These include entities such as Parsonage Cottage, Agnes Morley Senior Living, Armstrong Court, Adams Garden, Quarry Knoll, Wilbur Peck Court, etc.]
Another third of affordable units are those that receive tenant rental assistance or CHFA/USDA mortgages.
22 - What is Greenwich Communities?
A non-profit entity that uses financing and public funds to assist low-income families, the majority of affordable units in town are under the aegis of Greenwich Communities (formerly the Greenwich Housing Authority) and are in such places as Armstrong Court, Wilbur Peck Court, Agnes Morley Senior Housing, Quarry Knolls, McKinney Terrace and a number of smaller residences scattered around town.
In addition to the larger properties that it owns and operates, the Greenwich Communities has purchased private properties – mainly multi-family homes, renovates and converts them to affordable housing. These units not only fit in with local neighborhoods but also put less pressure on town infrastructure.
Sam Romeo, the Chairman of Greenwich Communities, is an outspoken opponent of 8-30g projects, noting that, as a non-profit, Greenwich Communities’ developments can be up to 100% affordable. Over the years, P&Z has approved all of the assisted housing projects submitted by Greenwich Communities.
Municipal Improvement (MI) status was conferred in 2018 for a 52-unit apartment building for the elderly (“Vinci Gardens”), to be built in Byram by Greenwich Communities. If approved, all 52 of these units would count toward the State’s affordable housing requirement. However, despite the granting of the MI, there was opposition to the project. In light of the recent surge in 8-30g projects and renewed urgency to make a dent in the town’s affordable housing stock, a pre-application for the 52-unit building was submitted to P&Z in August 2021.
Greenwich Communities is highly supportive of and is likely to be one of the recipients of financial support from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The trust stands to enhance the borrowing capacity of Greenwich Communities as it signals municipal support.
23 - Why is an Affordable Housing Trust being proposed now?
Given the recent explosion of 8-30g projects in Greenwich – some 900 new units are now being proposed under 8-30g, it is crucial to begin to take control of this overwhelming situation.
Ironically, a housing trust was first proposed in 1988, a year before the 8-30g regulations on affordable housing were adopted statewide. The proposal for a trust languished in the RTM and never came to fruition.
24 - How will the Affordable Housing Trust work?
The Affordable Housing Trust Fund will create financial incentives for developers who are willing to work with the town to alter their developments so that they conform better with zoning and the integrity of local neighborhoods.
With a relatively small investment, by accepting funds from the Trust, developers will be able to realize at least a 50% increase in the rents on 30% of their units. That happens because CT law allows a local governmental entity that provides financial assistance to an affordable development to stipulate that income limits that could be based on Area Median Income (AMI) rather than on the otherwise applicable State Median Income (SMI).
Because of the higher rent and subsidies, developers can achieve target profitability and reduce the size of projects.
25 - What is the future of housing affordability issues in Hartford going forward?
There is strong support in Hartford from groups such as the Partnership for Strong Communities, Desegregate CT, the Open Communities Alliance and others to prevent modifications to current 8-30g regulations and to make such requirements even more stringent and challenging.
Moreover, an unprecedented number of legislative initiatives were put forward in the 2021 CT General Assembly Session, many of which went further than 8-30g in depriving local municipalities of the power to direct how housing that includes affordable units be developed.
For example, Proposed Senate Bill (SB) 554: An Act Concerning Municipal Zoning and Public Transit, Statement of Purpose: “To require that a municipality’s zoning regulations permits a greater density of housing within one-half mile of a public transit station than is otherwise permitted by such a municipality.”
Moreover, a few more extreme proposals were discussed at the last legislative session. For example, SB 172 proposed a statewide real estate tax on commercial and residential properties in municipalities that have not attained the affordable housing requirement.
The tax, based on a sliding scale that would reflect how far a town remains from the required 10%, could potentially cost Greenwich $30 million a year.
In the upcoming legislative session, which began February 9, 2022, many of last year’s initiatives will be resurrected. In addition, Desegregate CT will be proposing that maximum property size for single family homes be reduced to 1/8 acre.
Substitute for Raised H.B. No. 6107, Public Act 21-29 called for the formation of a Commission to work on “model” statewide zoning regulations. Pitched as optional, there is always the possibility the regulations will be proposed as mandatory.
Ironically, many of the proposed new statewide zoning initiatives to add to the overall diversity of the housing stock in CT without focusing solely on affordable units work at cross purposes to 8-30g by increasing the total number of housing units.