We commend policymakers who are seeking to keep young, talented, well-educated professionals in Connecticut by giving them a tax credit if they stay.
But there is a less expensive, more effective way to accomplish that goal: lower the cost of housing.
Connecticut leads the nation in education debt: $30,000 plus. As a result, Millennials can’t qualify for a mortgage or don’t want to take on more debt by buying a home. What they need to come or stay here is an affordable place to live. The problem: Connecticut has the nation’s sixth highest housing costs and the eighth highest rental costs.
What to do? Towns can proactively plan and zone to permit multi-family housing where they would most want to see it built. Housing choices give Millennials, and all Connecticut residents, more affordable options to allow them to stay and thrive in Connecticut.
The state could provide more incentives, or mandates if necessary, to get towns to increase the supply by creating denser zoning. The state’s Affordable Housing Appeals Procedure (known as 8-30g) already serves a critical function by allowing the creation of housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income residents who otherwise would be shut out of many towns. More supply is shown to bring down housing costs. There are locations to put housing young people can afford without damaging the character of those towns. There are proven ways of designing density to make it attractive.
Not every young professional will want Connecticut. But more low-cost housing choices in more towns in a beautiful state close to New York, Boston, skiing and the beach is sure to keep some here.
Meanwhile, tax credit money can be better used for child care, health care and other vital services low-income residents sorely need.