Politics Upstages Good Policy, Housing Bill Falls Short

Despite housing being the single most important issue this session for every constituency in the state, Senators have bypassed the opportunity to make legislation that is strong enough to make meaningful progress to solving the crisis. S.100 passed the Senate following a week of intense work by lobbyists to vote down an amendment offered by Senator Thomas Chittenden (D-Chittenden Southeast) that would call for more housing to be built. Despite a strong fight by several legislators, as stated by Senator Ann Cummings (D-Washington), legislators are left “living in a fantasy world if we think anything we are doing is going to solve the housing crisis.” Senator Randy Brock (R-Franklin) agreed with the sentiment, stating that legislators are saying “the house is on fire and we’re arguing about whether the fire truck should go 30 mph or 35 mph.”

Senator Chittenden’s amendment would have reinstated some of the important balance in reforms to state and local regulatory and zoning barriers that were crafted by the Senate Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs Committee. Minor adjustments would make an important difference in the number of units of middle-income housing that developers can build to help alleviate Vermont’s housing crisis. Ultimately, the amendment was voted down on party lines.