Ideas Considered to Expand a Program to Address Housing Crisis

The Priority Housing Project was established to fast-track approved projects and exempt them from Act 250 permitting regulations. Getting that designation itself can be timely but reviews of the program have generally been favorable. Multiple bills were discussed this week to build on the success of that program and expand how it can be used. Proposals include increasing caps on the number of units that could be built in a project, creating a tax incentive to exempt construction materials for these projects from sales and use tax, expanding the types of projects that qualify in Neighborhood Development Areas, lowering the bar to entry so more municipalities can create Neighborhood Development Areas, and increasing the definition of affordable rental housing from 80% area median income (AMI) to 120% AMI. With the time crunch to get ARPA dollars out the door, there were questions about if these changes will be enough to get projects moved through the pipeline in time.

The Senate Finance committee will be bundling ideas from many of the housing bills being proposed this session into one large omnibus housing bill. The Vermont Chamber supports efforts to address the “missing middle” in housing reforms and will advocate that new and existing programs address the housing crisis for middle income workers.