Letter: Dentist offers housing plan to chew on

Dear editor,

I read with interest your June 8, editorial “Was housing deadline missed or ignored?”

You noted that June 1 was the deadline set by a state law a year ago for Connecticut’s 169 municipalities to present proposals for the development of affordable housing. You felt many towns would come through but you suspect “some towns likely have no plans to ever cooperate.” You then quoted Center for Housing Opportunity Director Christie Stewart lamenting that “the legislation has no teeth.” But you never recognized the obvious, that when it comes to “teeth” you speak to a dentist. Teeth are our thing!

The most dug-in towns rejecting affordable housing are wealthy towns where the populous are used to paying to get what they want. Perusal of the parking lots show few cheap cars, mostly the top level. They want what they consider the best and they pay for it. You claim that too many of our towns “fail to recognize the benefits of rejecting exclusivity and embracing diversity.” Only 18 percent of our cities and towns meet the legislated standard of 10 percent of their housing market being affordable. It is not realistic to imagine changing opinions in all of the other communities one by one. They reject change so I propose a NIMBY (Not In My BackYard) TAX. If towns opt for exclusivity and privilege let them pay for it as they do for the many other amenities they enjoy.

Here’s how it works:

The current goal for affordable housing is 10 percent of a town’s housing stock. We compute the cost of providing the affordable housing needed in Connecticut, including costs for associated services for those residents (such as schools. hospitals, police and fire services). That cost is then borne by the towns under the 10 percent proportional to the amount they are under. That tax is distributed to the towns exceeding the 10 percent, again proportional to how much they are over the 10 percent.

There you have it. It has teeth and bite and it is fair. Any town can dictate whether they will be donors or recipients of the tax based on their affordable housing. I have proposed the NIMBY TAX to both the Norwalk Independent Party as a plank in their platform and to CONECT (congfregations Organized for a New Connecticut) as a goal for their affordable housing campaign.

The tax hasn’t gained traction yet but think about it while you are flossing.

Stuart J. Garrelick

Norwalk