How the flight of New Yorkers and an apartment building boom affected renting in CT


As the schedule moves to June – peak apartment season moves across the country – rental rates across the United States begin to rise, as states continue to lift pandemic-related restrictions on travel , indoor and outdoor gatherings and the wearing of masks.

Rents in Connecticut, however, while historically high, could benefit from a huge expansion of new buildings built since 2011, which are now competing for tenants flocking from New York and beyond.

A Hearst Connecticut Media analysis of data from the US Census Bureau, Zillow and Apartments.com shows that rent inflation in dozens of municipalities across the state has been subdued compared to other population centers.

However, that’s hardly comforting for the thousands of tenants who struggle to pay what they currently pay each month, while Connecticut homeowners face mounting costs associated with the long-standing moratorium on evictions.

Many potential tenants struggle to get a signature on an initial lease, said Charmain Yun, landlord engagement specialist with the Coordinated Action Network in New Haven. Some advocates are now advising clients to seek out rooms to rent as an alternative to full apartments.

“I have a client who has a criminal history … [but] has wonderful jobs – one full-time job with a great reference and another part-time job, ”Yun said. “I think he would make a great tenant, but his request is still denied. … that’s not a [unique] scenario.”

What people pay and where

The National Coalition for Low-Income Housing calculates a “housing wage” of $ 55,000 in annual income for any person or family to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Connecticut, based on a formula that spends 30% of their income. income to housing costs.

But depending on the region, this basic income can vary widely, from $ 83,000 in Stamford to $ 46,000 in Waterbury. Bridgeport has the highest estimated tenant totals classified as “chargeable to costs” by the NLIHC, at nearly six in ten.

In Stamford and Greenwich, at least 40% of tenants pay $ 2,000 or more in monthly rent, according to US Census Bureau estimates of rent brackets in towns in Connecticut and towns with at least 5,000 tenants.

Just over 30% of Norwalk tenants pay this amount, as do 15% of Danbury and West Hartford tenants. In two sections of Milford with more than 5,000 tenants, 19% pay $ 2,000 or more per month.

At the opposite end of the rent scale, only Waterbury, Torrington and New London had more than half of their tenant populations paying less than $ 1,000 a month. At least 50% of tenants in Manchester and West Haven paid between $ 1,000 and $ 1,499 to run the state in this bracket.

Danbury and Norwalk were highest for the $ 1,500 to $ 1,999 rental range, accounting for about 30% of all renters in both cities.

The Connecticut Department of Housing is providing $ 250 million in rent assistance to tenants and landlords through federal funding. But with limitations on evictions for participating property owners, not all choose to participate, according to John Souza, chairman of the CT Coalition of Property Owners.

In April, researchers at Harvard University and the Housing Crisis Research Collaborative released a study that found a quarter of renters nationwide had significantly depleted their savings during the pandemic, with a smaller percentage resorting to loans for rent a rent.

A boom in new construction

Construction continues on The Smyth building on Washington Boulevard in Stamford, Connecticut. Thursday, May 6, 2021.

Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media

Unlike the home sales market, where real estate associations keep meticulous transaction data, snapshots of the apartment market rely on imprecise surveys.

However, an image is taking shape in Connecticut – an apartment building boom, funded by both private developers and the state’s affordable housing programs, has added more than 37,000 units in 330 new apartment buildings. apartments analyzed by Hearst Connecticut Media.

In Stamford, Building & Land Technology and other developers added almost as many apartments – over 10,000 in all – as the next four cities combined of New Haven, Norwalk, Hartford and Bridgeport.

BLT’s flagship project in Stamford is the Harbor Point neighborhood, which was backed by the Philadelphia real estate investor Lupert-Adler.

The developer is now focusing on Norwalk for its next gigantic project at Merritt Station Norwalk, a high-rise apartment boulevard running the length of Glover Avenue north of Merritt Parkway, where it is about to complete the third and final phase of its Sidewalk Complex which is currently the largest underway in Connecticut with over 760 units.

BLT has sought to capitalize on movement during the pandemic by offering rental terms as short as two months for people who need more time before committing. And this week, he announced that all real estate clients of his subsidiary William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty could move into one of his apartments after completing the sale of their home, with the option of breaking the rental lease without penalty a once they have completed the purchase. of a new home.

While BLT’s projects have eclipsed others in Connecticut, developers like RMS, Spinnaker Real Estate Partners and Trinity Financial have transformed blocks of Connecticut towns. as well as.

RMS is leading the development of North Crossing in Hartford, an apartment village clustered around the city’s new Dunkin ‘Donuts Park baseball stadium. Trinity Financial is nearing completion from Soundview Landing in South Norwalk, replacing the outdated Washington Village affordable housing project. And Spinnaker apartment developments are underway for Hartford, Norwalk, Fairfield and New Haven, where its proposed downtown Coliseum renewed scrutiny of affordability in the city apartment area.

New York City Rents Dip, CT Rise

Construction in September 2020 on the Windward Commons mixed income housing development on the site of the former Marina Village social housing complex in Bridgeport, Conn.

Construction in September 2020 on the Windward Commons mixed income housing development on the site of the former Marina Village social housing complex in Bridgeport, Conn.

Brian A. Pounds / Hearst Connecticut Media

In 2018, Connecticut had more than 1.5 million housing units, of which about 30% were occupied by tenants – more than 460,000 units in total – according to the US Census Bureau.

US Census Bureau estimates for municipalities with more than 4,500 tenants, by market size

$ 1,000

– $ 1,499

$ 1,500

– $ 1,999

$ 2,000 and over

New Haven

32%

41%

19%

7%

Hartford

52%

39%

8%

2%

Bridgeport

34%

44%

17%

5%

Stamford

15%

19%

27%

40%

Waterbury

54%

36%

9%

1%

New Brittany

47%

47%

6%

1%

Norwalk

17%

22%

29%

32%

Danbury

21%

32%

32%

15%

Meriden

47%

42%

ten%

1%

Middletown

37%

42%

18%

3%

Bristol

47%

41%

ten%

2%

West Haven

32%

50%

15%

3%

East Hartford

46%

45%

8%

1%

Norwich

45%

41%

13%

1%

West Hartford

21%

44%

21%

15%

New London

52%

40%

7%

1%

Greenwich

14%

17%

24%

46%

Manchester

31%

56%

12%

1%

Milford *

16%

29%

36%

19%

Groton

29%

37%

27%

8%

Torrington

58%

34%

8%

1%

CT totals

36%

39%

16%

ten%

* Includes Town of Milford and Woodmont. Source: US Census Bureau American Community Survey; Rounded amounts


However, as of May 2021, Apartments.com had fewer than 7,800 apartments, condominiums, and homes for rent in Connecticut. On Craigslist, nearly 3,500 more are offered for rent, with a significant crossover in listings between the two sites.

That compares to more than 11,000 homes for sale in mid-May, of which about 2,700 are in the form of condominiums or townhouses.

Nationwide, April 2021 saw the largest monthly increase in year-over-year rental prices since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Yardi Metrix analysis of around 19 million rental properties in larger cities.

On Zillow’s separate index of mid-range apartment options in major metropolitan areas nationwide, Stamford, New Haven and Hartford had higher rental rate inflation than New York over six years through early 2020.

But as New York City rents fell 8% during the pandemic, Stamford and New Haven rents accelerated by the same margin, with Hartford-area rates rising 6%. , 5%. Zillow’s study areas cover just two dozen postcodes in Connecticut from Greenwich to Manchester and Old Saybrook.

The biggest winners spanned a mix of Connecticut neighborhoods, including two sections of Norwalk, the North End of Bridgeport, a strip of Greenwich, and a district spanning parts of Meriden and Middletown.

Still, Stamford barely broke through the top third of metropolitan areas nationwide for mid-market rental inflation in the first 12 months of the pandemic, according to data from Zillow. Owners recorded the biggest gain in Boise City, Idaho – at 17.5% – while Providence led Northeastern cities with an 11% increase to place seventh nationally.

New York continues to lag behind the Yardi Metrix Index; rents are down 12.8% amid continued flexibility from office employers to allow employees to work remotely, although there were signs in April of a rebound among tenants identified as having chosen to live in the city for lifestyle reasons.

[email protected]; 203-842-2545; @casoulman


About Jermaine Chase

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