House Leadership Restores Essential Provisions in “HOME” Bill

Successful leadership on housing displayed by the Rural Caucus and Speaker Jill Krowinski culminated with the House Environment & Energy Committee passing an amendment to the HOME bill with a vote of 11-0-0. The amendment incorporates many aspects of the Rural Caucus amendment advocated for by the Vermont Chamber. This includes increasing the Act 250 jurisdictional threshold increase for housing units from 10 to 25 units in downtowns, neighborhood development areas, growth centers, and village centers. With paid family and medical leave off the table this session, the Vermont Chamber is now working to secure any newly available funds for the Revolving Loan Fund to allow employers to invest in housing solutions for their workers. 

While the bill does not meet the full potential of what was originally passed out of the Senate Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs Committee, the version now up for a vote on the House Floor exceeds the version that was previously passed out of the Senate. Additional amendments to the bill are expected to be debated on the House floor next week and further conversation on Act 250 modernization is set to take place next session. 

Amendments to the bill achieve the following: 

  • Permits the Department of Housing and Community Development to use up to 20% of municipal planning funds to help towns meet neighborhood development area requirements.  
  • Adds a Regional Planning Report that requires the Vermont Association of Planning and Development Agencies to study improving coordination between municipal, regional, and state planning. 
  • Tasks the Natural Resources Board with determining what is required to create a municipal delegation process. 
  • Includes a Rural Recovery Council to strengthen coordination in rural economic development, housing resource navigators to work with local organizations and private developers, and a directive to eliminate redundancies in state permitting requirements. 
  • Returns the number of people who can appeal a municipal zoning permit from 1 to 10.