Cost expected to be a top concern at Burlington housing summit

Local News

The Queen City will try to get a handle on the high cost of housing Tuesday when city officials meet for a planned summit at Burlington City Hall.

The goal of the gathering, which begins at noon, is to reach consensus on reforms that will lower rents, reduce the effects of income inequality and improve land-use policies.

Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender is scheduled to give a keynote address during an afternoon ‘working’ session, which will include discussion on five specific reforms. The session is open to the public, but register is required.

 A town hall meeting to gather public input is set for 6-8 pm. No registration is required. 

But, for several people enjoying Monday’s weather along Burlington’s Waterfront Park, the summit should focus primarily on one issue: affordability. 

Sam Blake said she recently decided to move from the city to Essex Junction, where rents are lower.

“I was living downtown in a one-bedroom apartment,” Sam Blake said. “It was very difficult to find one that I could really afford, so I moved out of Burlington to live with other people. Just moving outside the city, rent is a lot more affordable.”

Luba Routsong, another former Burlington resident who now lives in Colchester, said the cost of housing is the single biggest obstacle to establishing a life in the Queen City.

“There is not enough affordable housing for everyone to enjoy this (the surroundings of Burlington),” Routsong said. “This is beautiful, this is natural beauty and it should be here for everyone.”

On the other hand, Routsong said, Burlington is such a nice place to live that some people are willing to pay a premium to do so. That helped when she put her condominium up for sale.

“In two or three days, we had 20 people that were interested in looking at it,” she said. “We had no problem selling it.”

Blake has seen another housing market issue that she hopes the summit takes note of.

“I think definitely there’s some landlord issues,” she said. “A lot of these property managers, they manage so many properties throughout Burlington and outside of Burlington, they don’t always have the time, when you have an issue, to kind of get on top of something right away.”

Leslie Black-Plumeau, the community relations manager of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, said the city is in a tough position when it comes to housing — it doesn’t have the deep well of subsidies that the federal government can offer households with very low incomes.

“But the city itself can do quite a bit to improve the supply of housing here and the affordability of housing here, because the supply affects the affordability,” Black-Plumeau said.

We’ll have full coverage of it for you at, as well as on Local 22 & Local 44 news at 6 pm and 7 pm.

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