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Housing & Affordability

Housing and affordability has been a problem in Burlington for decades, but its intensity has dramatically increased post-pandemic. Even with recent advancements in housing policy, many new homes becoming available, and more coming online soon, the issue is as critical as ever - and every Burlingtonian is feeling the negative impacts. 

 

Making true progress on complex housing and affordability issues are not solvable by buzzwords. As mayor, my focus will be to redefine and rise above the political disagreements that have for too long prevented real progress.  

 

I’ve spent the last 12 years of my career as a residential Realtor. While working with first time home buyers has not been the most lucrative part of the job, it has always been the most rewarding to me. Helping people move from rental housing to home ownership is a critical step to financial security for many people. Assuring that every person and family has stable housing whether through the Section 8 rental program, other public housing programs, or home ownership, has been a top priority for me personally and professionally. While we have had a housing shortage for my entire 35 years in Burlington, the seriousness of this crisis dramatically changed following the pandemic. Between the increase in home values and the increase in interest rates, the monthly cost for an entry level home mortgage has more than doubled in 4 years. It was recently reported on WCAX that Vermont is the number one state that people move into and 65% of people moving in Vermont for the past two years have moved here from out of state. Vermont workers are being priced out of housing and many are struggling with homelessness. We cannot let this happen to our neighbors!

 

Through efforts such as allowing increased height and density in our downtown and more recently working to develop the new Neighborhood Code which will allow more housing throughout Burlington, I am committed to increase housing opportunities throughout our City. 

As Mayor, I will bring these personal, professional, and governance experiences to the table and work to break the hold the housing crisis has on Burlington. 

Defining the Problem

The issue of housing and affordability is too often defined in broad terms, and solutions are too often offered through substanceless political talking points. We need to define the full range of issues related to our housing and affordability crisis if we hope to turn the tide on what feels like an entrenched issue. 

Solutions are required for the full range of housing and affordability issues, which include:

Chronically low vacancy rates

Lack of supportive & transitional housing

Increasing college student enrollment without adequate housing

Increasing needs for senior housing 

Homelessness

Low homeownership rates and a lack of financial security

Property taxes that add to the cost of homeownership &  rental costs 

High cost of building new homes

Lack of rental & homeownership options for workers, professionals, &  families

Housing insecurity

Irresponsible landlords

Need for enforcement of minimum housing standards

Priorities & Strategies

Burlingtonians at every stage of life and all economic circumstances deserve a quality, affordable, and safe home. In order to make true progress on the range of challenges preventing this promise of all Burlingtonians, there are actions that we must take - together. To make the promise of housing for all a reality, we must:

 

  • Add new homes to the housing stock so renters and homebuyers have affordable options to live, work, and play in all corners of our community. A vacancy rate chronically below 1% is a sign of an unhealthy and unfair housing market.

  • Enabling neighborhood-scale infill and multi-unit infill along major transportation corridors.

  • Allowing conversions from rentals to condominium or cooperative home ownership.

  • Establish long-standing and enforceable housing agreements with colleges and universities that include standards of how many students are housed on and off-campus, enrollment levels, and payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) to cover costs of city-provided services.

  • Hold problematic landlords accountable through a fully-resourced code enforcement office properly empowered with housing standard policies that protect at-risk renters.

  • Minimize the cost regulation adds to housing cost.

  • Creating sufficient homes for older residents with access to resources, services, and community connection. Seniors are a vital component to our community who deserve to age in place.

  • Working with the state leaders and surrounding communities to assure every community is contributing to sheltering their neighbors who have lost housing and providing supportive services and transportation.

  • Work with state leaders and mayors coalition to remove duplicative ACT 250 regulations in communities with robust zoning, which impede development and increase building costs.

  • Supporting street outreach teams to connect with individuals experiencing homelessness and provide them with essential resources, healthcare, and mental health support, and accessible housing options.

  • Invest in data collection and data-driven iteration. By collecting and analyzing data related to all aspects of the housing crisis, we will be able to identify trends, target resources effectively, and measure the impact of policies over time.

  • Work directly with Vermont’s Congressional Delegation for funding to meet our housing and affordability challenges, especially for peer supported recovery homes and transitional housing for people coming out of incarceration.

Involving Stakeholders

As mayor, I will center both local and national experts, as well as neighbors from every corner of Burlington. Developing, implementing, and iterating our action plan will require all hands on deck. Stakeholders who must be at the table include: 

  • Market Rate Developers who build market rate housing that addresses the needs of the market including professional housing and worker housing.

  • Non-profit developers who subsidize worker housing, and build public housing.

  • Non-profit service providers who provide the supportive care that some people need to be successfully housed.

  • Vermont Legislature and Governor who can streamline permitting process and require communities to invest in housing with both a carrot and a stick approach.

  • Vermont Congressional delegation who can access funds to build housing particularly for our most vulnerable who need highly supportive housing.

  • Vermont Department of Corrections who have an obligation to assure their residents are able to transition successfully from incarceration, to jobs, family, and a healthy productive life. 

  • Banks whose lending policies discourage homeownership and favor building rental housing.

  • The University of Vermont who needs to build housing to adequately meet needs of current enrollment and future enrollment.

  • AARP and other senior advocates to understand and support the housing needs of older Burlingtonians

  • Business leaders who are unable to attract workers due to a lack of housing options and are in some cases developing their own worker housing. 

  • Neighbors from across Burlington. 

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