New housing activity blossoms in May despite the pandemic

Connecticut’s economy saw it’s busiest May since 2015 in terms of new housing activity, according to data released by the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

There were permits issued for 535 new housing units last month, the largest number in May since 2015. During the first five months of this year, three of which came in the midst of a dramatic economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, there were housing permits issued for 1,903 new units, a 7.3 percent increase over the same period last year.

The year-to-date housing permit data also shows the largest number of new housing activity since 2015.

New Haven led all 104 communities reporting permits in May. City officials issued new housing permits for 307 units last month.

New Haven officials issued permits for 688 units during the first five months of this year, which is more than three time the amount of new housing activity during the same period in 2019.

Only two other communities in the state had permit activity that was in the double digits. Norwich officials issued permits for 60 new housing units in May while Norwalk had 10.

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New housing activity blossoms in May despite the pandemic

Donald Klepper-Smith, chief economist and director of research for New Haven-based DataCore Partners, said the May data for new housing reflects a change in people’s attitudes toward single-family homes.

“Much of what we’re seeing is not single family growth,” Klepper-Smith said. “There’s a change in the mix and single family homes are less right now because people want more flexibility in their housing situation.”

Of the 535 new housing units approved last month, 398 were for buildings of five units or more, according to DECD.

New housing activity is consider a key economic indicator because of the number of jobs associated with it as well as the need to purchase durable goods to go into the homes. Examples of durable consumer goods are appliances, home and office furnishings, lawn and garden equipment, as well as consumer electronics.