Our Town, Our Future…Just Not Here

Voices from our Salisbury community about the housing we need for a healthy, economically vibrant future.

We all care about the resale value of our homes. I have heard neighbors express concerns about a possible negative impact on their property values if affordable housing is built nearby.

Since Covid there has been a huge increase in median home sales prices. In Salisbury, median sales prices rose by 80% in just 5 years from $500,000 in 2019 to $904,000 in 2023. Homes near affordable housing, whether Salisbury Housing Trust single family homes or affordable rentals such as at Sarum Village or Faith House, have risen just as much as homes elsewhere in town. Let’s take some examples in Salisbury. We’ve got 9 Salisbury Housing Trust homes in and around Dunham Drive. Right next door a home is currently on the market for $795,000.

A home across the street is currently listed for sale for $699,900. Our tax assessor says that “current sales data has shown that proximity to affordable housing has had no impact on sales prices. Properties near affordable housing are selling particularly high.”

The Center for Housing Policy, supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, has done a great deal of research on this issue. Based on many studies over the past thirty years it has published “Insights from Housing Policy Research.” To quote its publication, “The vast majority of studies have found that affordable housing does not depress neighboring property values and may even raise them in some cases. Overall, the research suggests that neighbors should have little to fear from the type of attractive and modestly sized developments that constitute the bulk of newly produced affordable housing today.” It goes on to say, “Much of the research suggests that the type of affordable housing matters less than the quality of the properties’ design, management, and maintenance.”

The Salisbury Housing Committee, Inc. is a local volunteer-led nonprofit that builds and manages affordable rentals. It has worked with QA+M Architecture for their last four projects including the third phase of Sarum Village which is now in construction. Drive into Sarum Village and take a look to see how attractive the new buildings are. To manage their properties, the Housing Committee uses Connecticut Real Estate Management, which has been successfully managing affordable rental housing in our region for over a decade. Aside from making sure the properties are well managed, they also process people’s applications for housing and do thorough background and credit checks on every prospective tenant.

It’s natural to be apprehensive about the unknown, but rest assured that embracing more affordable housing in our town will only enhance our community, help our local services and businesses and bring more vitality to our town centers. It will also provide much needed homes for people who often work here but can’t afford to live here and people who want to downsize as they age but have nowhere to go to remain in our community.

If you’re interested in making sure that new affordable housing projects are as good as they can be you can volunteer to work with local nonprofit groups that are working hard to make that happen.

Mary Close Oppenheimer is a board member of the Salisbury Affordable Housing Commission.

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