BURLINGTON, Vt. – The Building Homes Together Campaign announced Tuesday that it hopes to build 5,000 new homes in Chittenden County over the next five years, with a quarter of them considered ‘permanently affordable’.

The campaign set a similar goal back in 2016 to create more than 3,500 homes, but failed to meet its affordability target.

Charlie Baker, Executive Director of the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, said following through this time around will take historic investments and policy changes.

“When we looked at the numbers, we realized we really still have not impacted the vacancy rate, which I think is one of the big indicators,” Baker said. “And so that means the housing market is still too tight, too expensive for renters and buyers.”

A healthy vacancy rate is considered anywhere from 3 to 5 percent. Right now, Chittenden County has an estimated vacancy rate less than 1 percent.

“For the communities and economy of Chittenden County to truly succeed, we need housing of all types to be developed,” said Michael Monte, CEO of the Champlain Housing Trust. “But we heard loud and clear from our conversations that affordable options for lower and middle income households are virtually non-existent and we need to do all we can to double-down on ensuring everyone has housing they can afford.”

The campaign also announced a series of recommendations for policy and financing, including local and state regulatory reforms, investing in existing homes and infrastructure, and support local housing trust funds.

Additional information and a full set of recommendations can be found here.

“We are thankful for the support of all the community leaders getting behind this bold new goal,” said Nancy Owens, Co- President of Evernorth. “Pulling together and addressing barriers, securing and directing once-in-a-generation resources smartly, and undoing systemic barriers to housing for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, all combine to provide us with a transformational opportunity right now.”