George Benson and Rob Sibley suggested the eight vacant staff houses at Fairfield Hills as a potential location for affordable housing. Under the new Connecticut Housing Program for Economic Growth, towns can receive up to $50,000 in planning and technical assistance from the state without having to commit to building affordable housing. If Newtown decides to establish affordable housing zones, and developers build the housing, the town will receive a $2,000 incentive per unit from the state, while the town's land-use boards keep complete control over the locations, amount and design of new housing. Newtown's need for affordable housing is not unique. Housing costs in the state have risen 69.7 percent in the last seven years, while wages have risen 33.7 percent, according to HOMEConnecticut.org's Web site. The state program was passed last July and allotted $4 million for this, its first year. Most of the funding is designated for technical and planning assistance: rewriting zoning codes, establishing design standards, surveying and mapping. "The state wants to target areas in towns that are suitable (for affordable housing) ahead of time, before the developer comes in, in order to save money," Benson said. The study will look at many different criteria including transportation. The program could benefit police officers, firefighters, teachers, town employees and young people seeking homes in the area, Benson said. First Selectman Joseph Borst said the board tabled the issue after it met a fair amount of opposition from Selectman Paul Mangiafico, who thought the proposal should not be aimed at Fairfield Hills, but rather the whole town. Mangiafico could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Benson said Fairfield Hills is a part of town with potential for affordable housing, but he hopes the study will be a townwide assessment. "We need the study to determine where in town affordable housing will be," he said. The issue will be discussed further at the next selectmen's meeting, July 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the C.H. Booth Library meeting room. There is no set deadline for grant proposals, but according to Benson there is already a waiting list of interested towns.