The lack of affordable housing for middle class and low-income Vermonters is holding us back: communities cannot thrive when we have fewer people able to purchase homes in the county, fewer businesses are able to hire employees, and fewer people gathering together in neighborhoods, downtowns, and backyards.
More than half of renters in Chittenden County are “cost-burdened,” paying more than 30% of their income for housing. A third of all the households in Chittenden County are “cost-burdened.” The median home price in Chittenden County has tripled in 20 years, far outpacing the rate of inflation.
With inadequate housing stock and serious affordability issues people who want to live here cannot, and businesses struggle to recruit workers. People should be able to live near their work and near transportation hubs. This creates vibrant communities, and it’s good for the environment.
Vermont already has in place policies—including aspects of Act 250—to encourage increased density in downtowns, which is the environmentally responsible way to grow. But long overdue reforms to Act 250 should be pushed forward as soon as possible to further incentivize building housing in population centers.
In some ways our affordability crisis is a good problem to have: it’s good that people want to live in our county. We are better off than those places that are suffering because people are leaving. But we have work to do to accommodate our population and to welcome those who want to join us.