Commissioner Henry S Scherer Jr Connecticut Department of Housing

We all know that decent housing is central to a decent quality of life. Among all the services a government or community can provide, a stock of affordable housing is every bit as necessary as good schools, fire and police protection, public transportation, and other basic services.

Deer Meadow is an important development because of the need it serves and because of the example it sets. It is an outstanding example of the private/public partnership working to benefit the community. The quality of this housing proves that by working together we can meet the affordable housing needs of rural and suburban communities.

For Deer Meadow, the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority provided the first mortgage, the Department of Housing provided the second mortgage, and the development received nearly one million dollars in federal low income housing tax credits. But as we all know, housing does not get developed without the commitment of the local government, the developer, and so many dedicated parties.

The Department of Housing does not have powers of initiation. Regardless of what needs assessments indicate, we must rely on proposals from nonprofits and developers like Marc Levine.

In the current economy, some have questioned the need for affordable housing. In some areas there are high vacancy rates for rental units. But as the Brookings Institute has said, "There is no housing shortage. There is, however, a shortage of affordable housing." And the vacancy rates do not reflect an abundance of affordable units, but rather the fact that many in our society simply cannot afford private market rents without some form of subsidy.

Some of the impediments to affordable housing production are the mis-conceptions that surround our product. I am confident that if we could gather the opponents together and bring them to Deer Meadow, their opposition would be defused by the weight of the evidence before their eyes. This project transformed a vacant parcel of land into much-needed housing.

Government has a responsibility to make sure that our citizens are stakeholders in our society. For low-income families, it means providing a chance to become stakeholders. Making sure that our citizens have that essential stake in their society by creating affordable housing is both a challenge and an opportunity. As I see these beautiful apartments, I believe that' we have accepted the challenge and that we are seizing the opportunity.

I submit that to continue to do so is as imperative to our future as to our society. As John Kennedy said in his inaugural address, "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich."

Connecticut's affordable housing is a good product, and as everyone can see, it is housing that belongs in any backyard.

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