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Study Shows Additional Housing Needed Downtown

The City of Burlington is looking to create additional housing, both in and around downtown.
BURLINGTON, Vt.- The City of Burlington is looking to create additional housing, both in and around downtown.

Thursday night a public meeting took place to get feedback from people about what's needed to make it happen.

Keirsten Hallquist has lived in the same place in Downtown Burlington for 5 years because it's hard to find anything else that's affordable.

"I have a salaried position at UVM and I'm paycheck to paycheck just to pay my rent. My landlord is really generous," said Hallquist.

People told City of Burlington planners what they think of housing in the city.

"More density in the downtown, means we can have more thoughtful development," said Tad Cooke, who lives Downtown.

"There's a lot of people competing for a very small number of apartments," said Brian Pine, Assistant Director for Housing.

The Downtown Housing Strategy Report shows Burlington's strengths and weaknesses.

It's focused primarily on rental housing. Downtown falls short on supply.

In comparison to other small cities, a balanced rental housing market is at 5 percent vacancy rate, Burlington is just under 1 percent.

"We need 5 times the number of housing units, and that would a significant increase. That would mean we'd need to produce a couple thousand apartments over the next few years," said Pine.

The goal is to make it easier to find a place to live, no matter how much someone can afford.

It's not just affordability, but also finding the space to create more housing.

The plan is build upward.

"Single story buildings in a downtown, in most cities, those buildings are being repurposed to include upper floors, that would provide housing," Pine added.

The study shows 40 potential sights within a half mile radius from the heart of downtown, including the corner of Main and S.Winooski Avenue,

There is also the idea to put housing above the Burlington Town Center.

City Planners will take the feedback from the meeting and draft a plan, which should be out just after Labor Day.
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