James Rabbitt, Simsbury’s director of planning and community development, and John D’Agostino, senior manager at the Connecticut Green Bank, take part in a multifamily development “speed dating” conference Monday in Hartford.

A speed dating-format event in Hartford brought together dozens of real estate developers with officials from 28 Connecticut communities that encourage multifamily housing.

Sponsored by the Hartford-based Partnership For Strong Communities, the program gave developers a series of 90-second snapshots of opportunities around the state, from wealthy suburbs to struggling former mill towns.

Nine years ago, the state enacted incentives for communities to encourage multifamily development. At least eight cities and towns have adopted Incentive Housing Zones and nearly 30 have at least a preliminary degree of participation in the program, said Kathryn Shafer, deputy policy director at the Partnership For Strong Communities.

“They know their residents are struggling or they don’t have the future workforce that they need,” Shafer said.

Communities receive $20,000 for joining the program and additional grants from $15,000 to $50,000 based upon the number of housing units in a project. The funds can be used for any purpose. Some towns, such as Fairfield, enacted town-wide rezoning, while Old Saybrook targeted specific neighborhoods with an overlay district.

The program is designed to address a mismatch between housing types and lifestyle patterns that threatens Connecticut’s economic competitiveness and real estate values, housing advocates say.

The median single-family sale price in February was $222,750, according to The Warren Group, publisher of The Commercial Record.

That’s 1 percent below February 2015, even as sales transactions rose to their highest level in nine years. Median home prices have declined or remained flat for 26 consecutive months.

At the same time, rental housing remains among the nation’s most expensive. Connecticut has the eighth-highest apartment rents in the U.S., according to a 2015 report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

High land costs and stagnant economic conditions make multifamily development financing a tricky proposition in Connecticut, according to developers who attended Monday’s event.

Joseph Vallone, founder of Westport-based Joseph Vallone Architects + Development Studio LLC, has spent over a decade redeveloping the former Roosevelt Mill in Rockville into a 68-unit complex called Loom City Lofts. The program received state Competitive Housing Assistance For Multifamily Properties (CHAMP) funds and state and federal historic tax credits.

“The problem is land values are tough, and it comes back to jobs. First you need jobs and then there’s a reason for people to live there,” Vallone said. “That’s why the 395 corridor is tough to develop. Financing is a huge component and banks are really constricted since the crash. That’s why you need government help.”

Harvey Edelstein, president of Real Estate Diagnostics Inc., is building 79 units of housing in Stafford for the elderly, homeless veterans and the disabled. His company specializes in replacement of affordable and elderly housing complexes built by housing authorities in the 1960s.

“We’re one of the oldest states in the country and we have an outmigration of the Millennials. A lot of the elderly can’t move,” he said. “The little towns in Connecticut are having a problem.”

Nick Lundgren, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Housing, said the state has spent over $1 billion to help create or preserve 7,500 affordable housing units since 2011, and another 3,200 are under construction.

“Financial resources and political will and streamlined procedures are simply not enough. That’s why an event like this is so important,” Lundgren said. “It’s a well-choreographed dance including private capital, design and construction knowhow.”

The state’s CHAMP grants and loans are the most popular incentive for multifamily housing developers. Approximately $25 million is awarded semi-annually, with applications seeking three to four times that amount, Lundgren said. The next round of awards is scheduled in June.

The state is accepting applications for predevelopment loans up to $3 million for properties located within a half-mile of public transit stations, said Garrett Eucalitto, undersecretary for Transportation Policy and Planning at the state Office of Policy and Management. That program began as an effort to spur development near the CTfastrak dedicated bus line, but has expanded to include sites near all transit stations statewide.

Towns that enact smart growth zoning will reap the rewards, predicted Vallone, the Westport architect.

“The whole transit-oriented districts are a phenomenal idea, seeing where the Millennials are getting away from the car,” he said. “Most of the towns are figuring it out, if they want to be competitive, and they’re seeing the opportunities.”