Rent Struggles Highlight Housing Challenge

Markeshia Ricks PhotosA task force charged with crafting policy solutions to address the city’s affordable housing crisis got a look at just how big the problem is at its first public hearing Wednesday night.

More than 100 people showed up to City Hall and more than 40 testified during a nearly three-hour public hearing. People shared their personal stories of homelessness and living at the margins of near homelessness while raising children, losing jobs, cobbling together multiple low-paying part-time jobs and living with disabilities. Meanwhile, policy, legal and housing experts illustrated the systemic plight of a small, dense city with low rental vacancies, a booming luxury apartment market, and an aging stock of affordable rentals.

The task force grew out of the debate over the conversion of the Duncan Hotel from an unofficial downtown boarding house to a boutique hotel. It is tasked with coming up with policy recommendations over the next six to nine months that will help the city preserve and encourage the development of more single room occupancy (SRO) housing for low-income and homeless people. It also has been tasked with figuring out policies New Haven might adopt to stimulate the preservation and development of all kinds of affordable housing for the city’s poor and working families.

Wooster Square Alder Aaron Greenberg, the task force’s non-voting facilitator, set the tone of the hearing by pointing out that according to the latest report from the Partnership for Strong Communities, 57 percent of renters and 40 percent of homeowners in New Haven spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Housing is considered affordable when people spend 30 percent or less of their annual income to keep a roof over their heads.

He further pointed out that the National Low Income Housing Coalition had determined that New Haven’s “housing wage,” or the hourly wage needed to afford a two-bedroom in the city is $25.48, or about $50,000 a year. The median household income is far short of that at $37,162.

“As the New Haven Legal Assistance Association points out in their memo to this task force, the disparity between what it takes to afford a two-bedroom unit in New Haven and what residents actually make means low-income families are forced to live in substandard homes because it is all they can afford, or it is because their poor credit prevents them from finding better homes,” he said. “The task force assembled here tonight will do significant work, research, and deliberation to address this crisis. This is the beginning of our work together as a task force and as a community.”

The Ghost Of Norton Street

Allison Parks can’t forget Feb. 22, she told the task force. It was the day that she and her two children were given about 15 minutes to grab their things and vacate the apartment they’d lived in at 66 Norton St. for six years. She and her teen son and daughter lived in the Three Judges Motel on Whalley Avenue for about three months until they could find an apartment. (Read about the challenges that other former Norton Street residents faced here.)

They were told by the city that they needed a three-bedroom so that each of her children could have their own rooms. She couldn’t find one she could afford. And when she did find one she could afford, it didn’t pass the city’s required inspections before they could move in. The family is now living in a two-bedroom apartment. She shares a room with her teenage daughter.

“I lived at Norton Street for six years and every year there seemed to be an inspection in that property,” she told the task force. “But in one night, I was told that the building was condemned because it’s not livable. Who inspects these buildings around the city? I would like to know that.”

She said she also wants to know why an apartment that can’t pass inspection from the city is even for rent. Parks told the task force that she suspected it is because a few key landlords like Mendy Katz and Mandy Management control lots of apartments and “take over the city.”

“They put people in slum apartments,” she said. “They buy abandoned buildings and just rent it as is because if they fix it you can’t afford it.”

A friend of Parks, Derthula Green, said it wasn’t until her friend was forced to live in Three Judges that her eyes were opened to the housing crisis in the city.

“I knew New Haven had issues with housing but I had no idea just how awful it was until I saw this family,” she said. Both Green and Parks questioned the role of the Livable City Initiative, the city’s anti-blight agency. (LCI Executive Director Serena Neal-Sanjurjo sits on the task force.)

“I just want to suggest also when dealing with folks in this kind of situation that those folks who are accountable and supposed to be helping them really do help them,” Green said. “I would like to know the full role of LCI in the city. My interactions with them on behalf of this family was disturbing. I was confused as to whether they were advocating for the citizens or the landlords and I’m bothered by that.”

Chaz Carmon, a New Haven native and president of the anti-gang violence organization Ice The Beef, said he is disturbed by how easy it is for low-income people to slip through the cracks when it comes to maintaining stable housing. He said he knew firsthand the value of low income and affordable housing: He grew up in every manner of such housing and managed to get two degrees and now works in the school system as a paraprofessional.

“We make very little money,” said Carmon, a single father of one child. “We all live check to check.”

He said there had been times where he and his child needed to go into a shelter but he couldn’t get into a shelter that took families because they only accepted women and their children. He and his child have housing now but because of his work in the community he often takes others in.

“I could have moved to Waterbury or Meriden where it’s cheaper,” he said. “But as a leader working against gang and gun violence, I must stay and struggle to better my city.”

“A Lot Of Work To Do”

The deeply personal testimony of people like Allison Parks and Chaz Carmon put a face on what people have been saying anecdotally about the state of affordable housing. Those who try to meet the legal and housing needs of no and low-income people provided the data and some additional solutions that the task force could consider as they wade into the many issues that impact one’s ability to maintain stable housing in the Elm City.

Alison Cunningham of Columbus House and Jim Pettinelli testified Wednesday on behalf of the Coordinated Action Network, which represents providers of services and housing for those who are homeless. Cunningham said that the number of homeless people in New Haven hasn’t gone down significantly from the last point-in-time survey taken January 2017. In January 2018’s survey, there were 529 people counted, which represented 378 single people, 54 people in families, and 97 children. (Read about this year’s survey here.)

“The issues are dire for people who live in poverty,” Cunningham said. “Poverty is the single most leading factor in people being homeless.”


“There is a lot of work to do, a lot for all of us to do,” Pettinelli said.  Some of that work is in creating more “deeply affordable” housing through possible private development set-asides; through requirements for people earning between $10,000 and $30,000 a year; by examining zoning regulations to maximize all available options for deeply affordable housing especially for SROs; and through the conversion of city-owned properties and lands into affordable housing, he said. He also suggested that the task force looks at better interventions for people living outdoors including a recognition and response to the opioid crises because there are new people experiencing homelessness because of it.

Pettinelli suggested that the city should devise a better solution and understanding of those who gather on the Green and that “panhandling and homelessness are not necessarily the same thing.” Finally, the need to address transportation also could be part of the discussion of some of the ancillary issues that impact the ability to maintain stable housing, he said.

The affordable housing debate is taking place across the country in cities undergoing gentrification. (Read this story for an example.) Several different ideas have been bandied about for promoting more affordable housing: Negotiating with developers to include 20 to 30 percent subsidized units in market-rate projects, with the help of state housing grants; following the lead of cities like Washington, D.C., by having builders of new developments subsidize affordable units through higher rents on market-rate units; promoting more new market-rate, upscale developments with the thought that that would lower rents at existing apartment complexes; simply trying to build more public-housing projects; and enacting rent control.

Yonatan Zamir, a staff attorney with the New Haven Legal Assistance Association, told the task force that the city can’t rely on the private market to self-enforce housing code particularly as it relates to the city’s older housing stock which is riddled with lead paint. (Read here about a lawsuit Legal Assistance filed Wednesday against the city over its handling of lead poisoning cases here.)

“We don’t have a well-functioning market,” he said. “it’s not working. We don’t have robust enforcement.”

He said specifically that three city agencies — LCI, the building department, and the health department — are not functioning in a way that will deliver safe and affordable housing. He pointed to Norton Street and Church Street South as prime examples of that dysfunction.

“There were outstanding orders for code compliance but nobody was penalized,” he said of Church Street South, which is now headed for demolition and redevelopment. “There were no prosecutions but most importantly children suffered.”

He said that is also what is happening in the lead cases that are being unearthed. Legal assistance has found at least five families who have children with lead poisoning in apartments it argues should have had better enforcement of lead paint laws.

“The health department is undermining the city by not effectively enforcing the rules it is supposed to be enforcing,” he said. “We’re finding that out through litigation and our experience and we are concerned that not a lot is being done.”

At the end of Wednesday’s hearing LCI’s Neal-Sanjurjo said that the housing issue is about more than a place to live but getting people to a place where they have an income that allows them to live in the city.

“As we move forward I hope that we will not only be looking at housing but how we can make recommendations that get people to a place where they have an income that would afford housing,” she said. “This has been a good meeting.”

Karen DuBois-Walton, executive director of the city’s housing authority, said she was happy to hear the problem of affordable housing defined beyond New Haven’s city limits.

“Until our neighbors get energized around this as well, the issue will not be solved to my satisfaction,” she said.

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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 7, 2018  7:38am

LCI’s Neal-Sanjurjo said that the housing issue is about more than a place to live but getting people to a place where they have an income that allows them to live in the city.“As we move forward I hope that we will not only be looking at housing but how we can make recommendations that get people to a place where they have an income that would afford housing,” she said. “This has been a good meeting.

You thank the city for bringing in the gentrification vampires.You can use Inclusionary zoning a proven strategy to address the shortage of affordable housing .In fact NEWARK N J has stuck a steak into the Heart of the gentrification vampires.with there INCLUSIONARY ZONING law.



• The Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance is a proposed law that requires developers to make 20% of the housing in new large developments affordable to Newark’s working families..

This law will apply to every neighborhood in every ward.

• Newark residents will have a preference for the new affordable housing.

• This will help insure that the recent increase in development and investment in Newark will benefit existing Newark residents.

• Inclusionary zoning will help Newark avoid the failures of places like Hoboken, Jersey City, Harlem, and Brooklyn where far too many long-term residents were displaced or priced out of their home communities.

A developer who is unable to include affordable housing units must contribute to a fund that will build affordable housing around the city.

posted by: wendy1 on June 7, 2018  8:03am

A SHAM——-all of the alders involved increased our tax 11%.
I did not go but chose to heckle those who did—-Are you going to vote for Toni again???  What’s 11% of 30 BILLION????  I did not heckle GARY D.
A city committee sits and dithers while joblessness and homelessness increase in REALTIME.  Good luck with that.  Soon Tony and Doug H. and Zinn will be charging rent on city benches.
Sorry to be a DOWNER, but I have been watching the” party” since Nader ran for Prezz over 20 years ago when Useless Shah and Blanko Blango were alders (always eating and smirking).  All of the non-profits are hurting for $$$.  Y2Y is being scared off by NIMBY’s who live in WS Park area????  If cityhall wasn’t corrupt and Yale was generous, none of this would happen.
Citizens, wake up and smell the BS.  Move out of town or complain and fight (non-violently).  There are over 200 forms of “civil disobedience” listed on the internet.

posted by: 1644 on June 7, 2018  8:39am

“Robust enforcement” will make housing less affordable. Yes, “low-income families are forced to live in substandard homes because it is all they can afford.”  Bringing all housing up to the standards NHLAA wants, i.e. totally lead-free, vastly increases costs and will drive many landlords to abandon properties.  The long term solution is a better education system that actually prepares people to earn wages with which they can support themselves, and an encouragement of “middle-class sensibilities” such as deferring child-bearing until one is ready to support one’s children.  There is something very wrong when someone like Mr. Carmon earns two degrees, likely at great cost to himself and the state,  yet is only employed as a paraprofessional/teacher’s aide.  If those two degrees were a bachelor’s and master’s in Special Education, he could be earning a decent living.  The carpenter and plumber rebuilding my bathroom make pretty good money with no degrees.

posted by: HewNaven on June 7, 2018  8:44am

Very simple. New Haven residents, on average, require higher wages and better living conditions. The city has begun to more strictly enforce zoning and health regulations. So, that might work. But, most private businesses still do not paying a ‘living wage’. Even wealthy corporations, making huge profits, are not paying people enough. Walmart and other large, highly-profitable businesses should be forced to pay their workers more. This will drive wages up around them. The CGA needs to take this seriously. I saw Looney walking up Crown Street the other day and I wanted to scream at him for not making this his #1 priority.

posted by: NOYB1 on June 7, 2018  8:54am

There are so many issues that have not even been touched in this forum. Let us not forget how many property owners and property managements are making it extremely hard for newhaveners to stay in the city. To rent a 2-3-bedroom apartment you will be paying between 1300 to 1900 for 3-bedroom apartment and some areas like Wooster square area a 3 bedroom goes for about 2200 to 2700. With that said, residents are relocating to a different city’s where you can afford a decent leaving without having to choose between a roof or a meal. New Haven no longer cater to newhaveners they cater to outsiders to move in to the city offering luxury apartment and let us not forget how all the Property management companies that are out of control and they are pushing our people out of the city they don’t want us here they want the rich and the subsidize tenants and the hard-working middle class are little by little being pushed out of the city. SOMETHING HAS DO BE DONE AND THINGS NEED TO IMPROVE! We need some enforcement and regulation.

posted by: theNEWnewhaven on June 7, 2018  9:48am

We must think REGIONALLY about this issue. Look at Houston, for example…

New Haven CAN NOT and SHOULD NOT take on more low income housing, especially when compared to the surrounding region.

After this 11% tax hike…this city should ONLY be advocating for MIDDLE INCOME housing.

We have the Yalie bubble, we have the low income. Where is the safety net for the middle class that makes too much for subsidies?

Let’s advocate for the TEACHERS, the SOCIAL WORKERS, the ENTREPRENEURS -  those that actually GIVE to the community.

On top of that, how many of the professions that are providing services and growth to the region’s population have OVERWHELMING STUDENT LOAN DEBT. Where should they go? Ah, yes, they’re leaving for places like TEXAS and the CAROLINAS.


This little city CLEARLY needs MIDDLE INCOME RESIDENTS. We need stabilizing Millennials!

STOP clustering low income families together and START advocating for DENSITY in this city. With this density can come a certain percentage of low and middle income units incorporated throughout this booming MARKET RATE growth.

MORE MARKET RATE UNITS = MORE AVAILABILITY OVERALL, more shoppers that can potentially keep the 9th Square from dying more than it already is…

WE MUST STOP expecting LITTLE New Haven to house the GROWING number of people who think they DESERVE their OWN discounted/free units.

LIVE AT HOME LONGER, Get a roommate, get on birth control, PLAN for your future.

Don’t have kids you can’t afford, DON’T HAVE MORE KIDS IF YOU CANT SUPPORT THE FIRST!!

This city is small, broke, and struggling. Let’s stop asking more from it than we give back.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on June 7, 2018  9:57am

1644, you’re right that there is an inherent tension between housing code enforcement and affordability. But in the absence of effective code enforcement you get 66 Norton Street. 

NHLAA may want all housing to be lead safe. But as a practical, as distinct from legal, matter the lead standards only apply to housing where young children live.My house was built in 1844 - of course it has lead paint. But when I bought it, the previous owner signed a document saying that he did not have actual knowledge of lead in the house. As a general rule, remediation is only required when a child is discovered to have an elevated blood lead level that can be attributed to the dwelling.

HewNaven, Sen. Looney’s power to get legislation passed is actually quite limited. Any single Democratic senator can kill any bill, and several of them are unsympathetic to living wage bills. In 2015, when the Democrats controlled both chambers, he supported the Walmart bill, which would have fined large employers that have minimum wages less than $15/hour, in order to partially offset the state’s cost of providing Medicaid benefits to their employees. The bill went nowhere.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 7, 2018  10:15am

posted by: NOYB1 on June 7, 2018 9:54am

There are so many issues that have not even been touched in this forum. Let us not forget how many property owners and property managements are making it extremely hard for newhaveners to stay in the city. To rent a 2-3-bedroom apartment you will be paying between 1300 to 1900 for 3-bedroom apartment and some areas like Wooster square area a 3 bedroom goes for about 2200 to 2700.

Home Run. This you tube says it all.

Gentrification Town

posted by: theNEWnewhaven on June 7, 2018 10:48am

This little city CLEARLY needs MIDDLE INCOME RESIDENTS. We need stabilizing Millennials!

Even MIDDLE INCOME RESIDENTS can not afford the rents.

The Year in Housing: The Middle Class Can’t Afford to Live in Cities

Out of Reach
The affordability crisis in US cities is not just about buying homes. Rents, too, have been rising since the Great Recession. In the coastal and hot cities like Denver and Austin, those increases have put even rentals out of reach for many in the middle class. The capital required to sign a lease on the average-priced $3,500-a-month apartment in San Francisco often topped $12,000, owing to requirements for first and last month’s rent plus security deposits and a broker fee.

Why Middle-Class Americans Can’t Afford to Live in Liberal Cities

And in New York it has gotten so bad New Yorkers are moving into this state.But are finding out the rent is also to high and the taxes on cars are killing them.

In New York, The Risk of Displacement Goes Far Beyond Brooklyn
Low-income residents are likely to be priced out of neighborhoods that stretch from New Brunswick, New Jersey, to New Haven, Connecticut

posted by: 1644 on June 7, 2018  11:41am

Kevin:  Norton Street was a failure in many respects, not least that of the new owner’s pre-prepurchase inspection, which is specifically designed to find major structural problems.  Frankly, my advice to any New Haven landlord owning a pre-1978 nbuilding would be to avoid any tenant with young children.  I know it’s illegal, but seems the safest route nonetheless.  If we want to preserve affordable housing, we should change the Fair Housing act to allow owners of pre-1978 buildings to turn away tenants with young children.  As you imply, an 1844 building which may pose risks to young children can be perfectly serviceable for older folks who (a) don’t wear the surfaces as severely, and (b) don’t have developing nervous systems.

posted by: Atwater on June 7, 2018  12:05pm

theNewnewhaven: Your argument is based on the fallacy that the middle class is growing, when in fact it is disappearing, There will soon only be two classes, the upper and the lower. I currently live in Austin, moved from New Haven (born and raised) a few years ago. Housing in Austin is more expensive than New Haven despite the heavy population of millenials. The same is true for Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, etc. The myth that housing is more affordable down here is just that, a myth. Also, the myth of the healing powers of the “middle class” is also just a myth. Affordable housing is a national issue due to the concentration of wealth by a few industries/families/individuals.

posted by: robn on June 7, 2018  12:08pm

1) Renters pay taxes and expenses through their rent. The BOA needs to reduce spndong by cutting govt, not expanding it which has led to this ridiculous 11% tax increase.
2) union employed alders like Greenberg should stop acting like they’re serving the public because they’re just serving their unions and bullying developers
3) NHV already has one of the largest public housing systems in the US. No more tax free housing. It’s unfair to other property owners.
4) reduce impediments to private development.

posted by: RobotShlomo on June 7, 2018  1:13pm

Welcome to the world of income inequality. This is what happens when you give tax breaks to the top, and then it trickles UP to the one percent coupled with hyper-gentrification. “Stabilizing Millennials” aren’t going to help, as there will never be enough of them, and they are the ones that are causing the housing crisis. They move into an area, raise the rents, and make it unaffordable for everyone else. Just look what happened to Williamsberg. The Millennials and hipsters moved in from the Midwest and all talked about how they “loved the diversity of the city”, and they made it too expensive for everyone else. And with rents being lower in Branford and Hamden, why would you want to live in New Haven when you can easily commute in an out?

The Washington Post backs the numbers provided by the Independent.

With local developers eager to build, and with banks even more eager to write loans to enable them, we’re looking at the next bubble. The average wage in CT is $14 an hour. There’s a serious problem here. We need livable wages. That’s what’s going to help.

posted by: anonymous on June 7, 2018  1:14pm

We need to build our way to affordable housing. 

Notwithstanding a massive shift in federal policy, such as the nationalization of private corporations and/or sweeping changes to tax rates, the only realistic solution to the housing affordability crisis is to encourage private developers to build as many new luxury units as possible in New Haven and surrounding areas.

“BUILDING MORE SUPPLY MAY BE THE ONLY EFFECTIVE WAY to reduce the pressure that is driving up rents and producing displacement.”

“the same policies that facilitate market rate housing–more density, fewer parking requirements, clear and certain approval processes–would also make it less expensive to build affordable housing.”

posted by: opin1 on June 7, 2018  1:14pm

So the city and its alders which just voted to raise property taxes 11% last week are having discussions this week on how to make housing more affordable?  Lets be clear: Everyone who approved that sickening budget and tax increase, also consciously chose to substantially raise the cost of living in New Haven. 

And in this entire article, not in one place is lowering taxes suggested as a way to keep housing affordable. Do a ‘find’ on the word “tax”. It doesn’t even come up until the comments section (and the photo of Mr. Losty). Not one alder or city official makes the connection between property taxes and the cost of living in New Haven. 

Why does it take an outsider like Mr. Losty to make the comment, “um, raising property taxes raises the cost of living”.

posted by: Noteworthy on June 7, 2018  1:16pm

Pose,  Preen and Bias Notes:

1. Where in this story is the testimony of any of those who rightly pointed out that the city’s fiscal nightmare - massive tax hikes are a big driver in higher rents and mortgage payments? Right - doesn’t fit the narrative.

2. Alds.. Greenberg and Hamilton - among the other half dozen or so BOA members who were in the audience are posers. They pose with an issue they helped create. The city departments aren’t accountable and just a week ago, the BOA agreed with the mayor to impose a massive $30 million tax hike after it raised the fines, fees and entry costs across the board. The aldermen collectively have no interest in “solving” affordable housing because that comes out of one side of their mouth - while they actively vote to increase the cost of rents and home ownership out of the other side of their mouths.

3. Kind of like Snakes - forked tongues.

4. With all due respect to KBW - when you’re building “affordable” housing and it costs $455K per unit - you don’t know what you’re talking about.

posted by: theNEWnewhaven on June 7, 2018  1:55pm

@atWater - that’s my EXACT argument. We live in Bos-Wash and the crunch is only getting worse here. We have a change to develop and sustain whatever the middle income population will be by having guidelines for supportive housing.

The difference between your city and ours is MANY MANY MANY people are moving to Austin TO BE IN AUSTIN, it’s the number one city in america year after year.

Texas also has an amazing tax bracket comparatively, even in the larger cities. There’s also AMAZING job growth.

We need MIDDLE INCOME HOUSING here to KEEP those that we have.

We are a TAX HELL with relatively rough winters. We need to support JOB CREATION by being attractive to businesses AND the employees THEY HOPE TO HIRE.

We are not the middle of Indiana, we are in the middle of THE Megalopolis. We are the future of convenience and if we don’t fight to stabilize who we are NOW we will lose the backbone of our middle class entirely.

Or, rather, the smart ones.

posted by: Atwater on June 7, 2018  1:57pm

“BUILDING MORE SUPPLY MAY BE THE ONLY EFFECTIVE WAY to reduce the pressure that is driving up rents and producing displacement.”

Not necessarily. Some studies have shown that housing is built in areas not just where it is needed, but where the demand is highest. The demand is not necessarily just who needs housing, but who can afford housing. Ergo, high cost housing is built for the citizens who can afford it because the housing developers know that there is a reasonably reliable pool of purchasers. So, housing stock might increase, but only housing stock that is obtainable to a certain segment of the population.

The issue is one of income. The income puzzle has to be solved in order for the affordable housing puzzle to be solved.

posted by: THE LANDLORD SIDE on June 7, 2018  2:01pm

There are many good factors listed here. The real problem is that we are quick to discredit the landlord and are pro-tenant.
lets look at some facts.
1) Tenants have a choice to call LCI if they feel that their apartment is in disrepair due to landlord neglect. Many tenants don’t call because either they caused the issue, and do not want to get charged by the landlord, or the way they live is below standard. ( I.e.) laundry on the floor, grease all over the kitchen floor, pet feces all over the carpet. Carelessness by the tenant affects the way they live. I need a calculator and an accountant to tell you how many smoke detectors have been removed by tenants.
2) Access- Many tenants do not allow landlords in for repairs. This is a sad fact in which even with the legal 24 hour notice, causes landlords hands to be tied. Then when eviction proceedings happen all these issues come to light. No proper landlord wants a tenant with mold and a leaking faucets- it costs money.
3) If they have a voucher, or are subsidied then the apt was inspected before they moved in. This means that an inspector checked plumbing,stove, heating, basements and more. Alot of these inspections are annual.
4)Tenants have a choice- No one is forcing them to live at Church street south, Norton, Mandy,Mendy, Dr Xu, or Diamond. Leases expire every year.
5) Columbus House, Liberty, andLCI used to help low income tenants with back rent, moving expenses, and other funds to rehouse, and replace, do to inhabitable conditions such as fire, flood, mold, etc. As far as I know many of these programs are underfunded and some have stopped completely.
6) Alder people and LCI ( neighborhood Specialist) need to be in tune with what the needs of their residents are and provide solutions to the housing issues at their monthly meetings. Together they are the eyes and ears of the community.
7) 85% of evicted tenants, are for non-payment of rent, not landlord conditions of the property. YES 85%

posted by: Nathan on June 7, 2018  2:10pm

I find it strange that there is no mention of how high “Section 8” rental reimbursements have driven up rents and sparked acquisition wars for multi-tenant houses and apartment buildings between several competing firms, including Pike, Mandy, Ocean, Navarino, and many smaller outfits.  The quality of property management from most of these firms is uneven at best, terrible at worst, yet they are taking in considerable profits from one of the few government programs that seems to over-pay (how about swapping that dynamic with medicare/caid?)

posted by: anonymous on June 7, 2018  2:32pm

“The income puzzle has to be solved in order for the affordable housing puzzle to be solved.”

Agree, but seems unlikely to happen. Look at what happened to even extremely modest proposals, like maintaining the expanded EITC or passing minimum wage regulations. 

In the meantime, building more units is effective. The people who rent the new “luxury” (i.e., newly-constructed) units would otherwise rent existing housing stock—this dynamic is what is driving people out and making rents go up faster than income.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on June 7, 2018  2:43pm

1644, allowing landlords of older buildings to discriminate against families with kids is one thing in the suburbs, but entirely another thing in cities like New Haven where most of the housing stock is pre 1978.

I wonder if the owner of 66 Norton has sued the inspector.

posted by: NHPLEB on June 7, 2018  3:03pm

Can I raise my rents 11%  to just cover the 11% increase?!?!?  Not even talking about making money on a property in NH anymore.  Now,  it’s just meet the expenses and pay the mortgage and owners eat the repairs, damage, upkeep, and lost rent.  There is no reason to be anything other than a market/luxury landlord or a real slumlord like the Housing Authority.  Little landlords with a conscience are being driven out of business.

posted by: Atwater on June 7, 2018  3:09pm

the Newnewhaven: Don’t let the news reports and glossy magazines fool you, Austin is a nice place to live for only a certain demographic of people. There is an affordable housing crisis here,  the city council just had a special sessions to try to address it. Much like San Francisco, Austin has been inundated with tech, which does bring jobs, but also brings high costs of living, a significant decrease in housing stock (which leads to exorbitant increases in rents and housing costs). Also, the influx in population has led to a strain on the infrastructure which means massive traffic problems, etc, not to mention to lack of good public transportation. The middle class is almost non-existent here. Wages are not as high as in Connecticut. Personally, I have a B.A. and found a job pretty quickly, but I’m being paid less than I was in Connecticut. Again, unless you work for one of the big tech companies (Dell, Google, Facebook, Indeed, Amazon) your pay probably won’t be high enough to support yourself with one source of income. I know attorneys and other professionals that have to work for Uber or Lyft just to make ends meet. There is job growth here, but the majority of those jobs are either in the service industry or in high tech positions, which usually recruit directly from UT and other universities or from offshore (India, China, etc.). These are two opposite ends of a spectrum, which is why there is no middle class here. If New Haven wants to end up like Austin then be prepared to lower building regulations, eliminate or decrease corporate tax liability, eliminate personal income tax, increase spending for major infrastructure repairs/upgrades, eliminate collective bargaining and destroy labor unions. Austin (Texas in general) is not the capitalist utopia that a lot of people think it is. This city is quickly becoming of the most economically segregated cities in the U.S.

posted by: HewNaven on June 7, 2018  3:32pm


Rents are raised 5-10% annually, arbitrarily, regardless of an increase in mill rate. Have you ever heard of someone lowering rent because the mill rate went down? Or, even keeping rent neutral as the mill rate remains steady? No. That is unheard of. So, if you haven’t raised your rent in a while, I guess your just a nice guy, but not an average landlord.

Meanwhile, if an average worker is very lucky, their income may rise 1-2% annually. For many, income hasn’t risen at all. So, no good jobs with decent wages and benefits means people will not be able to pay rent or have it subsidized. Hence the overwhelming number of voucher tenants and the 85% rate of eviction for non-payment.

posted by: NHPLEB on June 7, 2018  4:15pm

@ HewNaven:  Yeah ,  I am a nice guy AKA I am a sucker who shouldn’t be a landlord.  I don’t raise rents for a couple of years at a time and I take care of my property without being asked or compelled to do so.  And I don’t know what I am going to do with an 11%  increase that I may have to eat the majority of.

BTW,  I also never heard of a tenant telling me to raise the rent because I hadn’t done so in years or offering to pay more when water/sewer/insurance rates increased. Tenants always win but we are all being driven out of NH .  Maybe they’ll like the real slumlords better.

posted by: wendy1 on June 7, 2018  5:17pm

Folks, the BOA and the mayor are deafer than I am.  Get a bullhorn and join me at cityhall or 55 Whitney.

I enjoyed all the comments especially Atwater and Landlord Side.  Now it’s time to bring out your comments into the open.  Dont be shy.  Think Tom Paine and Nathan Hale and Frederick Douglass.  If the middle class gets pushed too hard, we all face a revolution involving us and our kids.  Most of us wont survive.  Read Howard Kunstler.  Some folks at the bottom will make it cause they have learned how to live off nothing and sleep outdoors with nothing.  They have become immune to stuff that would kill us off or hospitalize us.  When I worked at Bellevue, we called them “gomers” and knew nothing could kill them.

The rich/poor crevasse is right in front of us.  There is a 30 billion dollar hoard across the street from us.  We are the 99% so there is a chance we can change things here .

posted by: wendy1 on June 7, 2018  5:59pm

Read EVICTED by Matthew Desmond. They sell it at Atticus.  Read Nomadland about white boomers living in their cars and trucks.  Read Nickled and Dimed.  I know people who live in motels with no job security or backup plan.  I know millennials who cant afford a date or Starbucks coffee.  Try the free coffee at IKEA (get a free family card even if you’re homeless).  Two bucks for a good breakfast in a nice room with friendly vibes.

Speaking of rents,  I paid the same rent on Orange St. for 12 years during the late 80’s into the 90’s and then was offered first refusal on the property sale.  Obviously I was a good tenant and paid for improvements or repairs myself and lived alone.  I encouraged my landlord to visit my apt.  When I left for the new owner, I cleaned up after myself with mop and broom, etc.  I was lucky and caught a break in 2000 with local pricing (still humane).  I tell folks avoid mortgages (a bank scam) but who can come up with a quarter mill for a 2-bdrm these days????? let alone thousands for a “closing” which I still dont understand…..

posted by: brownetowne on June 7, 2018  7:10pm

HewHaven - I am a landlord and I don’t raise the rent every year.  My current tenants have the same rent today as when they signed lease 3 years ago.  I say this only because what you say just isn’t true and I’ve been a renter myself for many years and never expected or received a yearly rent increase as you’re describing.

posted by: robn on June 7, 2018  7:48pm


For over a decade I gave a steeply undermarket rent to tenants because I felt it was my way of giving back to a city that was good to me. No more.

posted by: Ulmus Civitas on June 7, 2018  9:28pm

have you noticed how many more people are reading these articles and commenting? the numbers are growing. the people are waking up. we refuse to idly kick the ‘debt’ can down the road while our mayor and BOA mindlessly increase taxes. they took the easy way out and penalized hardworking homeowners. however, the voices are speaking out and we will unite. call your alder. call any alder. ask why this tax increase was approved? why? email the mayor. ask questions. join in our forum and start looking around and talking to your neighbor. this tax and lack of proper financial management are not what we as citizens signed up for. we can make the changes but it will not happen overnight. however, the time to start is now…
newhaventaxpayers ‘dot’ proboards ‘dot’ com.

posted by: LookOut on June 8, 2018  6:15am

I have no idea where rents are going up 5% to 10% a year.  In the expensive new places, the rents are already sky high and there is no room for that type of increase.  I own two houses that I have rented for the past six years.  Half the units are getting the same rent they did in 2013.  With this tax increase, that is going to have to change. 

Those of you who say the tax increase is the problem are hitting the nail on the head.  On one side, an increase of this size forces property owners to pass on the costs in order to break even.  On the other side, the tax increase pinches local businesses who are either 1) left with less money to pay a good wage or 2) get sick of New Haven and leave town along with their jobs.  In either case, the city resident and tenant is left with a higher rent and less income. 

When are we going to elect alders that understand this and care - rather than the current gang that just funnels our money to the union bosses?

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on June 8, 2018  6:19am

@the landlord side, it is good to get your perspective and you make several valid points. But lower-income tenants have few choices in New Haven’s housing market. Let’s say you’re a single parent working full time at a minimum wage job. You can afford to pay $500/month in rent, using the 30% of income rule of thumb. Good luck with that; according to the Census Bureau, the median (average) rent in New Haven is $1,100.

Building more market rate housing, as Anonymous suggests, is part of the answer. But there are about 40,000 rental units in town. Adding hundreds of units per year, as the city is doing in the midst of a housing boom, is helpful. But even doubling this rate would not significantly affect affordability for low- and moderate-income households.

posted by: HewNaven on June 8, 2018  7:37am

I’d say you guys are the “good” ones (i.e. not raising rents and following all the rules as property owner/manager). You should do whatever you need to do keep your property budget in the black, including raising rent as needed. But, really I’m after 2 other things: the “bad” ones (e.g. Pike, Mandy, etc.) who do not manage property well, yet PROFIT from it. and #2 The lack of affordability due to WAGE STAGNATION. You have no control over the latter.

posted by: 1644 on June 9, 2018  8:28pm

Hew:  Speaking as a small landlord, many, if not most small landlords never raise the rent on existing tenants.  Rents are raised during vacancies.  Personally, I have learned to build small increases (3% after two years) into long term leases, simply because my costs, especially insurance and taxes, continue to go up year after year and it is impossible to absorb the increases forever.  Good tenants are hard to find, and vacancies mean zero income, so a landlord it’s very much in a landlord’s interest to keep good tenants.  Of course, bad tenants, such as the Gaumans are for Heo, can be catastrophic.  Even in the best of circumstances,  the court system has little sympathy for landlords, who are assumed to be wealthy and therefore evil.  My wife and I recently evicted a tenant who had attacked a fellow tenant:  it took two and a half months while he harassed us and caused $10K damage to the apartment.  The result?  My wife says never again, so there is one less unit on the housing market.

posted by: LookOut on June 10, 2018  8:20am

@Kein McCarthy - yes - it is true that the city has little to no options for low wage earners to find affordable housing.  This is a TAX problem.  Just do some math using $250K This could be the price point for a small single family house (and in the less safe neighborhood) or the cost per unit of new construction.  Either way, a $250K property will pay $7514 in taxes per year - which is $626/month.  That expenses has to get baked into rental costs, so think about it, far more than half of that $1100 rental unit is going to taxes, which are going to friends of the regime (and not improving city services). 

It’s fine to say that we will build a relief program but that money has to come from somewhere…this is usually more taxes which then push the next strata of people into needing relief which then requires more taxes which then…..

posted by: wendy1 on June 10, 2018  9:27am

speaking of renting public benches—-I now recommend the new benches at the BOATHOUSE.  When is the opening???—-no one knows.  I’ve heard dates that dont match up.

The good news for the homeless are the wonderful waterside benches and their proximity to good food at affordable prices at IKEA upstairs and down including a very generous breakfast ($2) starting at 9:30 AM with free coffee which is available with a free family card (no obligations but further discounts) and the terrific soft serve ice cream at $1 a cone after 11AM.

I would hope that the NHI would give the public a heads up on the opening but I no longer trust them with dates since they supposedly mixed up May 2 with May 30 for a SOM lecture in May.  PB had the nerve to tell me it was a typo.  I guess he’s friends with BA.