Affordable Housing Task Force

The Affordable Housing Task Force was formed by Planning & Zoning pursuant to the 2019 Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD). It corresponds to the POCD’s Second Guiding Principle: Develop Housing Opportunities for the Future. More specifically, the Task Force is developing recommendations to meet Objective 2.1 of the POCD: Create more affordable housing as currently defined under Section 8-30g of the Connecticut General Statutes. 

The Affordable Housing Task Force is comprised of both subject matter experts and individuals new to the topic. All meetings are posted. Members of the public are always welcome and there is usually an opportunity for interested parties to provide input. Comments  may also be submitted here. Meeting recordings are available at here. Meeting calendar is available here


Greenwich Affordable Housing Trust Fund

Background and FAQs


Q:  Do Greenwich residents really need affordable housing?

 

A:  Yes. Seven percent of Greenwich residents earn less than the Federal Poverty Level. Another 22% earn less than the basic cost of living in the area. The need for affordable housing in Greenwich is acute. The United Way of Greenwich report on housing in our town provides the data. 


Q.  How does Greenwich compare to the rest of CT?


A.  This link containing municipal, county and state housing data profiles is a helpful basis for comparison https://housingprofiles.pschousing.org/profile/#Greenwich.

 

Q:  Why would a Housing Trust Fund be an important part of a plan to increase the stock of housing in Greenwich that is affordable?    

 

A:  The greatest impediment to affordable housing development in Greenwich, as in every community in the country, is simple economics. Rents and prices of housing must be low to be affordable to even people with moderate incomes, including public employees, retail clerks, healthcare workers or the elderly living on Social Security. Land prices and construction costs are naturally driven by free market forces to levels that allow development using exclusively private sector funding only at much higher rents and housing prices. While zoning incentives or mandates do help drive some affordable development, the most direct and effective way of doing so is for the public and private sector to provide the missing funds necessary to make affordable development economically feasible.

 

Q:  How would a housing trust in Greenwich be funded?   

 

A:  As proposed, the Greenwich Housing Trust Fund will be supported only by private donations. Other municipalities usually have a fee system to enhance their Housing Trusts. For example, some have a surcharge on building permits or development fees;  others enable a buyout from inclusionary zoning regulations. Planning & Zoning will explore additional funding avenues if, over the next few years, private contributions do not yield significant balances. Any alternate funding proposal would be discussed in public hearings and subject to all relevant Town approvals.   

 

Q:  Who would control a Housing Trust Fund?   

 

A:  The fund as proposed would be controlled by an eleven-member board composed of Greenwich residents. Five members would be Town officials or their designees, including two members of the BET, the chair of the P&Z Commission, the Director of the P&Z Department, and the Director of Human Services. Four would-be members of the public, appointed by the Board of Selectmen and confirmed by the RTM, at least one of whom would have experience in affordable housing and two of whom must live in affordable units. The remaining two members would be the Chairs of the RTM Land Use and Finance Committees and would not have voting rights.  

 

Q:  How would the money be distributed?  

 

A:  The Fund would award moneys to those projects which best achieve the Town’s goals as articulated in the Greenwich Affordable Housing Plan (GAHP) which will be prepared with broad public input, approved by the BOS and RTM, and submitted to the State of CT Office of Policy and Management. It is anticipated that whenever possible the funds would be awarded following a competitive process. Whenever $2 million has been accumulated, a Notice Of Funds Availability and request for proposals would be issued to the public inviting developers of all sorts to apply for support to specific projects. Funds would be awarded to the project or projects that were determined to best assist the Town in achieving its affordable housing priorities as delineated in the GAHP.

 

Q:  What if a developer goes bankrupt?

 

A:  The Affordable Housing Task Force is also drafting a Declaration of Trust document which will outline the process for vetting applicants and will likely require a bond from them.  

 

Q:  How much money is expected to be involved?  

 

A:  Our hope is that at least every other year the trust is able to deploy $2 million to $5 million. The Trust would, however, only be one part of a multi-faceted approach to increasing the affordability of Greenwich’s housing stock.  

 

Q:  What form would the awards take?  

 

A:  No particular form is dictated by the proposal but the expectation is that most would be in the form of grants to enhance affordability or possibly in very low or zero interest loans secured by mortgages that are subordinate to the developer’s primary financing. That mortgage or a separate recorded covenant document would stipulate the level and duration of the affordability requirements. It is most likely that obligations would last for a minimum of 40 years, pursuant to state law, and thereafter would allow the developers to repay the award should they wish to take the property to market levels.

 

Q:  Can the trust really have an impact?

 

A:  A grant of $55,000 from the Trust could enhance the affordability of an existing or proposed 1 bedroom apartment for a 40 year period so it can count toward the State goal of 10% Affordable Housing. This helps Greenwich expand its inclusion and diversity without large development projects.   

 

Q.  Are there Affordable Housing Trust Funds in other places?

 

A.  Yes. In CT, there is no requirement to report municipal Trust Funds to a State agency but we know at least 5 other towns in CT have Funds. The information below from The Housing Trust Fund Project understates the total number of existing funds nationwide but is still useful:

 

"There are 118 city housing trust funds in thirty-four states, bolstered by another 186 jurisdictions participating in Massachusetts’ Community Preservation Act, and 296 communities certified in New Jersey by the Council on Affordable Housing—a total of 600 city housing trust funds. For a list of city housing trust funds and the agencies that administer them, click here.


In 2020, housing trust fund revenues generated by cities exceeded $1 billion. The most common revenue source collected by city housing trust funds are developer fees—used by twenty-seven city housing trust funds and all jurisdictions in New Jersey. According to our 2016 Housing Trust Fund Survey Report, the average amount of public and private funds leveraged for every dollar invested in affordable housing by city housing trust funds is $6.00. The highest leverage reported was $14.00 for individual trust funds. For a list of city housing trust fund revenue sources, click here.

 

Forty-seven states, the District of Columbia, and the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico and have created sixty state housing trust funds.  For a list of state housing trust funds and the agencies that administer them, click hereFor more information, see the section on state-enabling legislation."

 

Q.  Why did Greenwich use the Stamford Housing Trust Fund as the model for its proposed ordinance?

 

A.  We found the Stamford language to be the most comprehensive of the CT ordinances.   

 

Q:  Will the fund be accountable to the public?

 

A:  Yes. All of its deliberations will be held publicly. It will prepare and file annual reports of its activities. There will be annual financial audits and funds will be in the custody of the Town Comptroller.  

 

Q:  How would this fund be different than Greenwich Communities, the town’s housing authority?

 

A:  The proposed Affordable Housing Trust Fund would not own or operate any properties, as Greenwich Communities does. The fund would merely provide financing to support affordable properties and Greenwich Communities is very likely to be one of the recipients of financial support from the trust fund.

 

Q:  What is 8-30g? Why do developers use it?

 

A:  8-30g refers to a Connecticut state law that applies to any municipality like Greenwich which has less than 10% of its housing units classified as affordable. The law seeks to encourage the development of more affordable housing in those towns by allowing developers to disregard building size, setback and other zoning rules in new developments in which at least 30% of the units are set-aside as affordable. Greenwich has recently seen a number of projects proposed and under development using this rule. Although affordable housing is badly needed, allowing developers to build with greatly reduced local control complicates town planning decisions and can impose considerable stress on municipal resources. A detailed explanation of §8-30g can be found here.  

 

Q:  Why is a Housing Trust Fund being proposed now?  

 

A:  Developments under 8-30g are increasing. Moreover, in recent years, support has been building for other external means of pressing municipalities to expand their affordable housing stock. An unprecedented number of new legislative initiatives have gained support recently, many of which would go even farther than 8-30g in depriving local municipalities of the power to manage and direct how housing that includes affordable units is developed in their towns. One of them would establish a state real estate tax based on affordable housing levels that would increase taxes in Greenwich by more than 10% because Greenwich has fewer than the legally required number of affordable units. Establishing a housing trust fund is one effective way for Greenwich to increase our affordable housing units and thus mitigate the impact of these state legislative initiatives in our community.