Community Survey Shows that Guilford Needs More Affordable Housing

Guilford needs more affordable housing, particularly low-priced, single-family homes, and housing that provides more options for seniors and young families would improve the town, a survey conducted by the Guilford Foundation and Guilford Interfaith Housing found.

The survey distributed last summer drew responses from nearly 400 residents, with a strong level of agreement on several points. Nearly 70% of respondents said more affordable housing would be a benefit to Guilford, with the same proportion listing “modest single-family homes” as the most important priority. The next highest priority was two-bedroom rentals, at 45%.

The Guilford Foundation has concentrated on affordable housing in its 40th anniversary year, after volunteer researchers from the Yale School of Management identified the lack of housing diversity as a prime concern among town residents. As part of the housing initiative, Foundation board member Mary Jo Kestner led efforts to revitalize Guilford Interfaith Housing, a non-profit which will work with the Partnership for Strong Communities to identify ways to help develop more affordable housing units.

The most recent survey was voluntary, of course, and may reflect the opinions of residents who are already concerned about housing issues. Respondents also identified themselves as older – 33% were 60 or older – and wealthier than perhaps the average Guilfordite, with 52% reporting incomes of $100,000 or more. But the results do provide a look at how respondents rank their priorities. Studio and one-bedroom apartments weren’t seen as particularly important, while senior housing was, garnering 61% support.

Any new housing should be built near the town center or in the corridor between town and the railroad station, the survey found, with 65% support. The train station area came in at 47%. Only 15% feel more affordable housing is needed north of Route 80.

A significant minority of respondents thought lower-cost housing might hurt the town, at 18%, while another 13% thought it wouldn’t have much impact. Half of respondents also expressed interest in learning more about how other towns are building small homes and multifamily units to diversify their housing stock.

The Yale survey in 2009 found that the median household income in Guilford had increased 24 percent since 2000, while the median house value had increased 87 percent. The town’s housing stock was found to be 90 percent single-family residential, with few apartments for younger people or those in need of transitional housing.

The Guilford Foundation is a non-profit community foundation whose mission is to connect people who care with the causes that matter to them, to enrich the quality of life in Guilford now and for generations to come. Guilford Foundation does this through pooling contributions from like-minded citizens, managing these funds with professional guidance, and then carefully granting a portion of the income to organizations serving our community. GF has been involved in addressing housing issues since 2012, and has sponsored several community wide meetings on the issue, supported efforts to reinstate Guilford Interfaith Housing, and invested $25,000 in grants on housing related initiatives to date.

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