PA 10-56—sHB 5372

Housing Committee

Public Safety and Security Committee

Planning and Development Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING VISITABLE HOUSING

SUMMARY: This act authorizes the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), in consultation with the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, to establish a program that encourages Connecticut developers to build residential homes that are easy for people with disabilities to visit (commonly known as visitable housing). It defines “visitable housing” as one-to-four family residential housing with “visitable features,” which are (1) interior doorways that provide a minimum 32-inch wide clear opening, (2) at least one accessible means of egress, and (3) at least one full or half bathroom on the first floor that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended.

The act exempts developers from a requirement to obtain a State Building Code variance or exemption to construct visitable homes. And it authorizes municipal legislative bodies to adopt ordinances giving these developers a property tax abatement.

Within available appropriations, the act requires DECD to establish an informational webpage in a conspicuous place on its website that provides links to available visitable housing resources.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2010, and the property tax abatement provision is applicable to assessment years beginning on and after that date.

VISITABLE HOUSING PROGRAM

The act permits DECD to establish a program to encourage visitable housing development. The program must (1) provide a single point of contact for any person seeking state financial or technical assistance to construct visitable housing, (2) identify financial incentives for developers constructing such housing, and (3) include public education.

If DECD establishes the program, it must submit a report on its status to the Housing Committee by October 1, 2012.

BACKGROUND

State Building Code

The State Building Code applies to building construction in all towns, cities, and boroughs in Connecticut (CGS 29-253). It contains provisions concerning accessibility to, and use of, buildings and structures by people with disabilities, but no visitability provision. A developer must apply for a variation or exemption if a building design conflicts with accessibility requirements in the State Building Code. The State Building Inspector and the Office of Protection and Advocacy director may approve a variation of, or exemption from, any standard or specification when they jointly determine that it would not be feasible or would unreasonably complicate the construction in question (CGS 29-269).

OLR Tracking: KS: SC: PF: ts