A coalition of housing groups, banks and business leaders said Wednesday that it plans to find ways to help Connecticut residents afford to buy homes, saying that too many are being priced out of the red-hot housing market.
According to HOMEConnecticut, an initiative of the Hartford-based Partnership for Strong Communities, many families earning the median income in 157 of Connecticut's 169 cities and towns cannot qualify for a mortgage to buy a home at today's median prices.
"This is no longer a Fairfield County issue. This is a statewide issue," said John Rathgeber, president of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.
Housing costs across the state increased 63.6 percent between 2000 and 2005, according to HOMEConnecticut, outstripping wage increases. Meanwhile, Connecticut has lost more workers aged 20 to 34 since 1990 than any other state, the group said.
William Cibes, a former state budget director, said that the state's high housing costs are hurting many businesses. Companies won't come to Connecticut or won't stay because their employees cannot afford to live here, he said.
"We are losing our labor force," he said. "It puts us in a poor comparable position to attract businesses and jobs."
The median sales price for a home in Connecticut is $300,000, the organization's officials said. Cibes said that the gap between median incomes and home prices has made it harder for average working people, such as teachers and firefighters, to afford housing throughout the state.
HOMEConnecticut plans to spend the summer and fall educating policymakers and others about the state's affordable-housing problem. It also plans to research what types of housing are needed, how much, and where.
The group also hopes to come up with a list of proposed solutions for the General Assembly, which will reconvene in January.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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