Significant Solutions Proposed in Housing Omnibus Bill to Address Business Concerns

In December, the Vermont Chamber hosted a business roundtable with Senator Ram Hinsdale on the need to make housing the top priority this session. As Chair of the committee tasked with crafting a housing omnibus bill, Ram Hinsdale has since championed the needs of businesses. Over the last eight weeks, the committee took testimony from over 100 Vermonters to craft a bill that would make meaningful progress on Vermont’s housing crisis. The Committee unanimously voted out S.100, the “HOME” bill, which thoughtfully addresses many of the areas that the Vermont Chamber has advocating for. However, the bill is now expected to have an uphill battle in the Senate Natural Resources Committee, which has historically opposed removing the barriers that exist to building housing.  

In an op-ed earlier this session, the Vermont Chamber advocated for legislative action in four areas. Highlights of S.100 are categorized into each of these areas: 

Breaking down Barriers 

  • Limits municipal regulations on issues like parking, single-family zoning, ADUs, number of units per acre, height limitations. 
  • Removes the ability for 10 people to appeal a decision of the municipal administrative officer. 
  • Allows municipal administrative offices to approve subdivisions. 
  • Removes the character of an area as a subject of an appeal. 
  • Increases the trigger for Act 250 from 10 units in 5 years, within 5 miles, to 25 units in 5 years, within 5 miles in a designated area. 

Strategic Investment 

  • $20 million for the Missing Middle Income Homeownership Program 
  • $20 million for the Middle-Income Rental Housing Program 
  • $20 million for the Vermont Rental Housing Improvement Program 
  • $25 million for the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board 

Public Private Partnership 

  • Creates opportunities for employers to invest in workforce housing developments through the Middle-Income Rental Housing program. 

Collects Data 

  • Does not contain a rental registry. 
  • Instructs auditors from the State Office of the Auditor or a third-party auditing firm to conduct an audit of the residential housing development and approval process and identify measures and policy changes that will improve the timeliness of residential housing development.