Stories – Important Message

Banning Affordable Housing Development Misses the Point

Amidst a backdrop of fiscal crises in Hartford some have come up with a frightening idea – simply stop the development of affordable housing. Their reasoning goes something like this: ” The high percentage of  affordable housing in this city dooms it to failure.  From now on, we should only permit the development of market rate housing and homeownership to even the scales between Hartford and surrounding towns.”

This is flawed logic that threatens to keep adequate housing for the very people who make this city run – our teachers, our police officers, our firefighters and employees of many of our corporations and healthcare organizations in the area.  Do you define their needs as being for “affordable housing” or “market rate housing?”  Our police officers have starting salaries of $49,851 and our fire fighters start at $52,950.00.  For some, their needs might be for “affordable housing.”  From our perspective as a real estate developer in this city we’d call it “market rate housing” because, in fact, that’s what our market can bear. 

We applaud Mayor Luke Bronin and his administration for working towards systemic change on many fronts - housing, crime prevention, greater fiscal responsibility, strengthening the business climate, finishing the ball park and bringing a UConn campus downtown. 

And we have been optimistic to see Governor Malloy make affordable housing one of the top priorities of his administration.  Under his leadership, the State Department of Housing has created 11,197 new housing opportunities in our State.

We are doing our best to become part of the solution to the housing crisis in Connecticut. Our organization, The Chrysalis Center Real Estate Corporation (CCREC) began developing a mixed income housing project in four historic buildings in the Asylum Hill Neighborhood in early 2017.  When completed these projects would provide housing for singles and families with household incomes of between $38,520 and $54,400; 9 units set aside for high functioning individuals who have intellectual disabilities. HARC – a prominent service provider in Asylum Hill, for individuals with intellectual disabilities will support these individuals to live successfully in the community. These developments will restore four buildings to their historic luster, provide on-site parking, and offer modern-day amenities.  Here’s the rub: we are half-way through the project, having invested $1.7 million, and were recently told by the City of Hartford and the Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association, affordable housing is no longer welcome. This development will provide an over $8-million-dollar asset in the Asylum Hill neighborhood.

We are no strangers to the challenges of housing development in Connecticut. CCREC has been developing affordable housing in other towns since 2011.  The high cost of housing makes affordability a priority in this State. As an affordable housing developer, we have always paid property taxes on all our residential properties. With the help of the City of Hartford’s HOME Fund Program, and the State Department of Housing we have created neighborhoods in places that suffered from blight and other barriers to development with spectacular new housing units.  Call these homes “affordable” or call them “market rate.”  But whatever you call them, these developments have brought a higher quality housing stock to the neighborhoods where people now want to live.

The Chrysalis Center Real Estate Corporation has made a tremendous investment in Hartford through developing housing that brings back neighborhoods and welcomes those who want to live and work in Hartford.  Call them what you will – “affordable” or “market rate.”  Whatever you call them they represent homes for people who want to live in the Capitol City. 

Every community wants excellent quality housing and homeownership.  A blanket moratorium on building “affordable housing” misses the point for our City.   The answer to these problems is supporting quality housing – whatever you call it – that brings people home to the Capitol City.  That must be a big part of a long-term solution that will help the city again. 

Call it “affordable housing” or “market rate” housing, I don’t know about you, but I want my police officers, fire fighters and community assets living in the neighborhoods they bravely serve.

Sharon L. Castelli, MS, M.Ed., MSW

President and CEO of the Chrysalis Center Real Estate Corporation (CCREC)

“Sharon has worked in the field of Affordable Housing for over 25 years”.