The Senate Finance Committee met on Wednesday to discuss the impact of rapidly increasing housing costs. Chairwoman Cummings teed up the conversation by stating that some towns, like Stowe (as example) are seeing the number of people who qualify for income sensitivity drop, by no fault of their own. In some cases, homes have increased from $400K to $600K two years later (there is a $400k cap on house site value for income sensitivity). She mentioned the legislative goal of 80% of taxpayers being “income sensitized” (meaning they qualify for the property tax credit) and the state is now down to 64%. She was seeking solutions for how to address this long term.Read more
Susan Minter (Executive Director, Capstone Community Action) shared with the House General & Housing Committee on Thursday a report by the Community Action Team reiterating that housing was needed. Minter gave a very similar presentation to the one given in the Senate regarding S.100. The same risks were identified as in the Senate the same powerful stories that demonstrated the need for more housing.
She reiterated, again, that there was no focus on Act 250 or business issues addressed in the bill. Even so, Minter supported the bill as it was.Read more
Alex Weinhagen (President, Vermont Planners Association) spoke to the House Environment & Energy Committee on Wednesday about housing and permit reform legislation. He gave an overview with his opinion on the housing crisis and explained that State and local government can and should take action in the areas over which they have control. The Vermont Planners Association (VPA) strongly supports modernizing municipal land use regulations, state permitting reform (e.g., wastewater, stormwater, building codes, and Act 250), as well as changes to expedite development review appeals processes. This final point is one of the main focuses of S.100.Read more
Anne Sosin (Interim Director, Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition) spoke to the House General & Housing Committee on Thursday about Housing and Homelessness. She cast homelessness as a housing problem and a "policy choice," reiterating that they are "aligned" with other advocates supporting the S.100 housing bill.Read more
On Tuesday, the House General and Housing Committee did a walk through of H.276 with Legislative Counsel. The bill essentially requires landlords provide identifying information on the owner, landlord, property manager and other identifying information about the unit, location of the unit, and construction of the unit by March of next year.Read more
This week the Senate Natural Resources Committee focused mainly on amendments and wording changes to S.100 and the amendments being offered. These language changes dealing with definitions of downtown development districts, areas affected by municipal sewers infrastructure and wastewater systems.Read more
He commented on the state’s failure to pass statewide land use planning back in the “Act 250 days.” Specifically, he pointed to the abundance of opportunities during the permitting process for folks to increase costs and raise objections that lead to a lack of affordable or lower market rate housing generally.
He pointed out that the Vermont Housing Conservation Board (VHCB) is the financing arm of the state’s housing development efforts and recanted some stories about a designated smartgrowth site in Putney adjacent to the food coop. The same person came forward and appealed at two different stages of the process. Both times they won the initial appeal against the objections, but now it is headed to the Vermont Supreme Court. The town of Putney was all on board, however the resulting delays will be 18 months by the time the appeals play out, and it will raise the per unit cost by an estimated 20% (originally expected to be $400,000).Read more
The House General & Housing Committee took up H.378 on Wednesday, which would create an Office of the Housing Advocate to assist landlords, tenants, and homeowners with housing-related questions by providing information, referrals and assistance to individuals about obtaining or providing housing services.Read more