Fairfield adopted an affordable housing plan under the leadership of First Selectman Jacquelyn Durrell in 1988 -- and 25 years later, members of the Affordable Housing Committee believe it's time to update that plan.
With the Board of Selectmen's support, Fairfield's Affordable Housing Committee will spend the remainder of the year doing research, conduct surveys, and holding public forums to assess the town's housing needs.
"Our plan is to conduct a series of public meetings, involve other boards and groups in the plan, discuss what's been done to date," Director of Community and Economic Development Mark Barnhart said.
"It's a collaborative process -- the original plan gives us a good template," he added.
The committee drafted a resolution that declares the group will put forward an updated plan in January 2014. The Board of Selectmen unanimously approved the resolution during a meeting this month.
While the town has made "great strides" in the past two and a half decades toward making Fairfield a more affordable community, Barnhart said, there is still work to be done.
The town is currently home to 353 units of affordable housing. Those units consist of:
- 47 owner-occupied affordable units
- 266 units of apartment housing for seniors and disabled residents,
- 19 units of permanent supportive housing (owned and operated by Operation Hope)
- 21 multi-family rental homes
Still there remains an income gap in Fairfield between the town's median household income and a median-priced home, according to the Affordable Housing Committee's most recent report, which used real estate date from 2011.
The median-priced home in Fairfield is $549,000 and would require a family income of $134,742, the committee calculated. That's $21,494 more than the town's median household income of $113,248.
Based on that data, the Committee considers $300,000 to be the upper limit of affordability for households making 80 percent of area median income (the maximum income for a family to qualify for affordable housing, according to the corresponding state statute).
Only 56 single-family homes sold for less than $300,000 in 2011, according to the Committee.
With the resolution, the committee can work toward adopting a plan that will make Fairfield more affordable and get the town closer to the state's affordable housing requirements.
In Connecticut, each town is supposed to make at least 10 percent of its housing inventory affordable to families that make 80 percent or less of the towns' median incomes. Only 2.69 percent of Fairfield's housing is considered affordable.
And so the need to update and revise the town's Affordable Housing Plan was clear.
"We need to continually help and provide and opportunity for people to live in Fairfield," First Selectman Michael Tetreau said.
But Tetreau pointed out that with a town that's already "95, 96 percent built out, one must be creative in making the opportunities."
Selectman Cristin McCarthy Vahey was confident the town could work together to come up with ideas.
"One tenet of the original plan was the community's embracing and addressing the concern," she said.
Selectman Kevin Kiley said he already has a "long list" of volunteers who want to become involved in modernizing the plan.