Despite efforts to build new homes, affordability is still lagging in Chittenden County

Local News

BURLINGTON, Vt. – Three years into a campaign aimed at encouraging housing production and increasing affordability, Chittenden County is still plagued by a lack of affordable housing.

The Building Homes Together campaign announced Monday that they’re well on pace to reach their goal of building 3,500 homes over five years, but only 13 percent of the 2,200 homes they’ve built are considered permanently affordable. That falls significantly short of their 20 percent goal.

“We haven’t hit that target in any of the three years thus far,” said Regina Mahony of the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission. “It’s not entirely surprising, it’s difficult to build housing here that is affordable and it does require some subsidy and we just don’t have enough of that capital financing right now.”

CCRPC is one of three partners in the campaign along with the Champlain Housing Trust and Housing Vermont. The campaign has been funded by a $37 million Housing For All Revenue Bond that was signed in 2017, but with that funding set to expire at the end of the year, they’re calling for a new investment from the state that would allow construction to continue at the current pace.

“Without more capital money to really help hit that affordable price point, it’s a challenge,” Mahony said.

New homes are being filled shortly after being built, leaving long-term vacancy rates at 1.8 percent, well below the 3-5 percent range experts say would balance out affordability.

“We still see anemic vacancy rates which demonstrate a pent-up need and an ongoing need to continue this rate of building,” said Charlie Baker of the CCRPC.

While the campaign hopes more homes will eventually lead to affordability, Chittenden County residents are continuing to feel the strain of the current housing market.

“It was hard to find a place and the price for what you get isn’t that great,” said Elias Wieczorzck, who moved to Burlington in 2018. “I feel like anything that gets built and is of good quality will get snapped up and still the prices are really high for it because there’s a demand.”

The Building Homes Together campaign launched in 2016 and is supported by over 100 public officials, business and nonprofit leaders.

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