Urgency Needed to Address Housing Crisis

Vermont’s housing crisis continues to be a focus of concern in communities, businesses, and the media. With crossover weeks away, the Senate Economic Housing and General Affairs Committee needs to take on this sense of urgency in review of their Omnibus Housing Bill. In the Committee’s sole morning of hearings on the 66-page S.226 this week, they reviewed a limited number of the proposals. The Vermont Chamber is supportive of provisions in this bill that have been included in the Governor’s budget that will expediate the increase the supply of affordable middle-income homes, such as the Homeownership Development Program.  The Governor’s $70 million housing budget includes this program as well as the Vermont Rental Housing Incentive Program which is part of the Senate-passed S.210, currently sitting idle in the House General, Housing & Military Affairs Committee.

The Senate Economic Housing and General Affairs Committee Chair is in conversation with the Chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee, which has been working on a housing and Act 250 proposal, on what will happen between their two bills. Both include provisions originally proposed in H.511 to expand access to the Neighborhood Development Area Designation and the Act 250-exempt Priority Housing Project program. The bill under consideration in Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee would also expand the jurisdiction of Act 250 with the creation of a new Road Rule. Administration officials stated again this week that the Governor won’t support the bill as is. The Chair does not seem ready to give up on this committee bill and is looking for a path forward.