An affordable housing administrator, a real estate agent, an attorney, and a Habitat for Humanity volunteer have all been appointed to Ridgefield’s Affordable Housing Committee.
“When you’re helping people live and survive and be part of a community, it’s a good thing,” said Jacqueline Bean, one of the four appointees to what is expected to eventually be a five- or seven-member committee.
The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Jan 23 to make the new appointments to the long-vacant committee, after interviewing and approving of: Bean, a coordinator for federally supported Section 8 housing with the Danbury Housing Authority; Kevin Brown, an litigation attorney with Day Pitney LLP of Stamford; Jane Tullo, who sells houses in town with Neumann Real Estate; and Kent Rohrer, a retired IBM executive who volunteers with and is president of Housatonic Habitat for Humanity.
First Selectmen Rudy Marconi told the meeting he understood former committee chairman Dave Goldenberg intended to interview for a seat, as well — which would make five on the reconstituted committee.
Tullo told the selectmen that having more affordable housing in town could help people who’d reached the age of retirement and are downsizing to stay in Ridgefield, despite a somewhat flat market for the houses they have to sell.
“The value that they had in their homes isn’t what they thought it would be,” she said. “...We’re providing a place for them to go to, by having these units.”
“The role,” Brown said of the committee, “is identify opportunities to bring in affordable housing, or recognize affordable housing that’s in town, so we can keep our residents.”
Rohrer said his sense of Ridgefield’s affordable housing needs was influenced by finding a place in town for his mother, seeing his grown mid-career children unable to move back to their hometown, and trying to help working families find housing through Habitat for Humanity.
“My mother taught me about the senior side, my children taught me about the youth side, and Habitat taught me about the family side,” he said.
“I’d like for the committee to be more than just a bunch of data-gatherers,” Rohrer said. “Let’s come up with a strategy that makes sense for Ridgefield.”