They are two words that can send chills down the spines of even the most socially conscious homeowners in white, middle-class neighborhoods.
Deservedly or not, the phrase can conjure images of rising crime and plunging property values, of more traffic on the street and less achievement in the local-school classroom.
Among opponents, racism and class snobbery sometimes are only thinly veiled. Others argue a lack of public transportation makes the location a bad choice or that the proposal is "inconsistent with the character of the neighborhood."
Progressives might gladly agree affordable housing is good for the community -- as long as it's not in their backyards.
But neighbors sometimes can object to "affordable" housing with no regard for what the rent might be or who might occupy it. Sometimes they object because the structures proposed for a particular parcel simply don't make any sense and would violate zoning rules.
That is precisely the case on Homeland Street in the Stratfield neighborhood, just a few blocks west of Park Avenue. The street is lined with single-family homes, most of them on small lots.
There, a just-won't-take-no-for-an-answer developer has tied up the Town Plan and Zoning Commission for six months with a series of different proposals to build on a tiny 5,000-square-foot parcel -- the side yard of his son's home.
In his last two proposals, James Sakonchick of Cheshire has tossed in a single unit of "affordable housing" -- admittedly in an effort to use a state housing law to pull an end run around local zoning rules.
Sakonchick first applied to squeeze a single-family home onto the side lot of his son's home at 214 Homeland St. The commission rejected the plan because zoning there requires a new house have at least a 9,375-square-foot lot, and the parcel is barely more than half that size.
So Sakonchick reshuffled the deck and pulled out the developer's wild card -- State Law 8-30g. In certain circumstances, the affordable housing law allows a developer to circumvent local zoning rules.
He applied to build a single-family home and two-car garage, including an "affordable housing" component. The "affordable" component? A tiny, 500-quare-foot apartment over the garage.
Sakonchick labeled the project the "Homeland Opportunity District." The commission labeled it unacceptable because the law he was trying to leverage requires that "affordable" units and market-rate units be of comparable size. The tiny garage apartment didn't measure up, and the commission unanimously rejected the plan.
Twice rejected, an insistent Sakonchick came back with a third plan. This time, he sought to build not one but two houses on the parcel -- a single-family home and a duplex. One of the three units would have been "affordable," but the developer did not indicate which.
It didn't matter.
The commission Tuesday night unanimously rejected that plan, too. Another key requirement of the housing law is that a development have not one but at least two affordable units -- one for a tenant earning 60 percent of the median income and one for a tenant earning 80 percent of the median income.
The commission also noted the developer's paperwork has been consistently incomplete. The most recent application, for example, lacked the required expert testimony on traffic or drainage.
Persistence can be an admirable trait. It is as American as baseball and apple pie.
In baseball, however, it's three strikes and you're out. So Mr. Sakonchick would be wise to take a seat on the bench.
By failing to do his homework on the very state law he tried to leverage and failing to file required paperwork, he's wasted enough of town officials' and neighbors' time.
And his plans have had little to do with making Fairfield affordable for low- or moderate-income families.