Senate Releases the Omnibus Housing Bill

The Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs released its Omnibus Housing Bill which proposes a broad range of new housing programs and modernizations to existing programs. These include:

  • Creation of a municipal land bank to give municipalities the authority to purchase, own and blighted or vacant properties.
  • Allowing for neighborhood planning development areas so more municipalities can access them and be eligible for Act 250-exempt priority housing projects.
  • $150,000 for the study of the effectiveness of State designation programs
  • Requirement that, to the extent possible, COVID-19 money for housing be used under smart growth principals.
  • A homeless bill of rights
  • $5 million to design and implement a first-generation homebuyer incentive program.
  • $5 million to design and implement a manufactured home relocation incentive program.
  • $5 million for a matching grant program for large employers that provide workforce housing.
  • $5 million to work with organizations including the Vermont Chamber to design and implement a program to convert vacant commercial properties into housing units.
  • $5 million to contract with an entity to provide housing support services to New Americans.
  • Extension of period to incur debt by 3 years for Tax Increment Financing Districts.
  • Creation of a First Time Home Buyers Account, similar to an Education Savings Account.
  • Language for municipal bylaw modernization grants
  • Permit exemptions for downtown housing developments in high demand counties.
  • Sales and Use Tax exemption for materials purchased in construction of priority housing projects.
  • Penalties to the Environmental Division for permits requests not responded to in a timely way.
  • Missing Middle Income Home Ownership Development Program

Absent from this cornucopia of housing incentives is the Vermont Rental Housing Incentive program (VRHIP), which is included in the rental registry bill, S.210, passed by the Senate and headed to the house. Learn more details on the Vermont Chamber’s advocacy on S.210.

The Vermont Chamber has been supportive of many of these initiatives and outlined their importance to the future of the Sate in a recent op-ed. Review and markup of the bill will take place over the next few weeks. If you have questions or comments on these proposals or Vermont’s housing crisis, please contact Vermont Chamber Government Affairs Vice President Megan Sullivan.