Survey to determine Fairfield's housing needs

File photo of Stephen Grathwohl, chairman of the Fairfield's Affordable Housing Committee, addressing a forum on possible updates to the town's affordable housing plan.

File photo of Stephen Grathwohl, chairman of the Fairfield’s Affordable Housing Committee, addressing a forum on possible updates to the town’s affordable housing plan.

Andrew Brophy / Andrew Brophy

FAIRFIELD — Officials are looking to residents to help determine the town’s housing needs and how to address them.

Residents are asked to share their personal housing experiences and feedback about possible housing options through a community survey over the next few weeks. The input will be used to update the 2014 Housing Plan and the 2016 Plan of Conservation and Development.

“With the affordable housing plan, we know the needs are changing and unfortunately there’s not nearly enough resources available at the local, state or federal level to cover it all,” said Stephen Grathwohl, chairman of the Fairfield Affordable Housing Committee. “We want to gather data so that we can pinpoint more accurately the needs and then we can plan the programs to help address those needs.”

Grathwohl said Fairfield has long been on the forefront for focusing on the community’s housing needs.

In 1988, the town created its first affordable housing plan, one of the few in the state at the time. In 2013, on the 25th anniversary of the initial plan, the town decided to update it to meet the current needs.

“The town has needs and the needs change as the residents change and the population grows,” Grathwohl said. “There’s a need for the town to address certain issues.”

A recently enacted state regulation now requires every community to have an affordable housing plan and update it every five years. Fairfield is looking to identify the community’s major needs through a quick survey for its latest update.

“It’s critically important that we hear from the community because even those of us who are out in the community or work in housing as a profession have limited exposure to all the people in town and to all of their needs,” Grathwohl said.

He said the residents best know their needs, and those of their children and parents.

“It’s best that they articulate their thoughts on what the needs are because it will inform and influence the plan and the programs that get developed,” Grathwohl said.

Grathwohl said he believes the housing needs stretch to all demographics, including seniors, college students, young couples, minorities, employers and employees. They also span a broad scope, from wheelchair accessible units and roll-in showers to proper-sized starter homes.

He said that while Fairfield lacks significant underdeveloped land that is also accessible to sewers, public transportation and shopping — which makes it harder to create new affordable housing projects — the previous plans have helped in the housing crusade.

There have been a number of new developments and multi-family housing proposals since the previous update in 2013-2014, however Grathwohl and the rest of the affordable housing committee still want more input.

“We need to hear from the people in town because this is really their town’s affordable housing plan,” Grathwohl said. “We really do hope we gain all of the information from the residents and from the people who work in town.”

“We’re trying as best as we can to provide options for the whole range. The town should do what it can, and as best it can, to meet the resident’s needs,” he added.

The survey can be accessed at: Surveymonkey.com/r/Fairfield_2021_Housing_Survey