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    Housing Solutions Lab
    Monday, March 20, 2023

    Glossary of housing terms


    Affordable housing: This general term applies to housing that doesn’t cost the people who live there more than 30% of their income.

    Affordable housing development: These are described in state statute as either government-assisted or set-aside developments. A certain percentage of units in a set-aside development must remain affordable for at least 40 years to those who make less than 80% of the state or area median income.

    Area median income: Calculated by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) annually, this figure identifies the midpoint of a region’s income distribution, with half of the population earning more and half earning less. The area median income for most of New London County is $102,700. In Colchester and Lebanon, it’s $128,500.

    Cost burdened: HUD says a household is cost burdened when monthly housing expenses including utilities exceeds 30% of monthly income.

    Housing Authority: These agencies are public corporations with boards appointed by the local government, according to HUD. Their mission is to provide affordable housing to low- and moderate-income people.

    Housing tenure: This formal term describes whether inhabitants rent or own their space.

    Incentive housing zone: Empowered by state statute, towns can create zoning overlay districts that allow developers to build more units than typically allowed in exchange for creating mixed-income housing.

    Income levels: By the HUD definition, low income households make less than 80% of the area median income, very low income households make 50% or less and extremely low income households make 30% or less.

    Inclusionary zoning: The process by which a local government promotes the development of affordable housing. Examples specified in state law include setting aside units as affordable through deed restriction, allowing developers to increase the number of units on a site in exchange for building a certain amount of affordable housing, and creating a local housing trust fund.

    Low income Housing Tax Credit: Credits are awarded to developers to build or rehabilitate low-income housing. The federal government gives the tax credits to the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, which awards the credits via a competitive process to private developers for affordable rental housing projects. Developers sell the credits to investors who benefit from a reduction in tax liability, according to the state General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Research.

    Market-rate housing: These units are priced based on what the market will bear instead of any government subsidy or involvement. In affordable housing developments, up to 70% of the units can be sold or leased at the market rate.

    Naturally occurring affordable housing: Properties that fit this definition are affordable without subsidy.

    Public housing: This refers to the low-income housing program administered through HUD for low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.

    Rent control: State and local government actions that restrict increases in the amount tenants pay.

    Subsidized housing: Federal, state or local government programs that keep housing costs down for low- and moderate-income residents. This category includes public housing as well as federal and state vouchers that can be used for privately owned units.

    Vouchers: These federal or state programs work by reimbursing the landlord for the difference between what a household can afford to pay and the rent itself. Most vouchers are assigned to families or individuals who are supposed to be able to use them on any qualifying rental, not just public housing.

    Workforce housing: The focus is on providing options people can afford close to where they work. Oft-cited examples include public employees like police officers and teachers who play an important role in the community but might not be able to afford to live there. In New London, the term has been used to describe housing for young professionals being hired at places like Electric Boat, Pfizer and Lawrence + Memorial Hospital.

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