Affordable housing in Ridgefield? State grant will pay for development study
RIDGEFIELD — Affordable housing is a complex subject, and the town has received an $11,000 grant from the state to study the issue here where the average sales price of homes is upwards of $700,000.
“The challenge is to address the clear need for more affordable housing in Ridgefield, while at the same time preserving the unique qualities that make Ridgefield, Ridgefield,” said Dave Goldenberg, chairman of the town’s Affordable Housing Committee.
“Further, it’s important we don’t look at housing in isolation — we have to think about it in relation to economic development, schools, open space, infrastructure, arts and culture, etc. Housing is an integral part of planning, and planning is the only smart way to manage growth,” Goldenberg said.
The $11,000 grant is for “technical assistance” in Ridgefield’s effort to write an affordable housing plan — something each Connecticut municipality is required to have under a law passed in 2017. The state also specifies that towns update their affordable housing plans every five years.
The grant comes from the state Department of Housing, which this summer awarded $558,000 in affordable housing study grants to 43 municipalities.
“This grant opportunity is intended to enable eligible municipalities to undertake a proactive planning process and lay out a strategy for meeting the housing needs of existing and future residents and workers,” the department said, announcing the grants. “Addressing Connecticut's housing affordability crisis with thoughtful planning for homes that meet the needs of individuals and families at different income levels is crucial to sustaining thriving local communities.”
The grant follows one from more than 20 years ago that resulted in some additions to the town’s housing stock — including the Sunrise Cottage group home on Sunset Lane and The Meadows, which is the town government’s only affordable project for families rather than senior citizens.
“The Ridgefield Affordable Housing Committee last drew up a plan in 1999. It was pretty comprehensive and contained dozens of recommendations,” Goldenberg said. “While some of those recommendations were ambitious, a good deal was achieved. Sunrise Cottage came out of our committee (in partnership with Habitat for Humanity), as did the 20 family affordable units at The Meadows (adjacent to Prospect Ridge). The expansion of accessory apartments, approved by P&Z, was recommended in our plan. But there were many goals that were not achieved.”