Burlington, VT — Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger has released a ten-point plan with the ultimate goal of ending chronic homelessness in the Queen City by 2024 and doubling the rate of housing production over the next five years.

“The path to making good on the promise that decent, stable housing is a human right is to build a lot more  homes throughout the city and throughout the region,” said Weinberger. “This will require community change and understanding from us all. Our goal should not simply be to reduce homelessness, it must be to end it.”

Weinberger says the number of people in Chittenden County experiencing chronic homelessness was 35 in 2018. Today, it’s more than 160, a nearly 400 percent increase.

“I lived in a tent for four and half years, and it’s no picnic. It’s no picnic,” said Williston resident Clarence W. Lamore Jr., who is staying with a close friend. “I’d like to see the City of Burlington to stick with their word, what they’re going to say. There’s housing right there. There’s housing all over, it’s not affordable.”

Mayor Weinberger’s Action Plan will implement 10 specific initiatives:

  1. Invest at least $5 million of ARPA funds, with at least $1 million designated for initiatives to better serve the chronically homeless and $4 million to build new permanently affordable housing.
  2. Create a Special Assistant to End Homelessness position within the City’s Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO) to provide a single point of accountability for expanded community effort.
  3. Strengthen through new investment Chittenden County’s “Coordinated Entry” command center team that drives weekly progress towards functional zero with a comprehensive, real-time, by-name data effort.
  4. Support the creation of 78 new homes for formerly homeless residents (25 percent of the goal for new, permanently affordable housing) by partnering with affordable housing developers.
  5. Invest in approximately 30 shelter pods and related infrastructure to create a new low-barrier facility for 2022.
  6. Set a goal to support the creation of 1,250 total homes, including 312 permanently affordable homes, by the end of 2026 (25 percent of the total Building Homes Together 2.0 goal).
  7. Fully fund the Housing Trust Fund to voter-approved levels in fiscal year 2023.
  8. Open new housing opportunities through the creation of a mixed-use Enterprise Innovation District in a portion of the South End.
  9. Open new on-campus University of Vermont (UVM) student housing opportunities by rezoning the former Trinity Campus to reduce UVM’s pressure on the housing market.
  10. Open new housing opportunities City-wide through “missing middle” zoning reforms, which will expand opportunities for new homes to be created in every neighborhood in ways that reflect the character of these parts of the City

Weinberger says state and local land-use policies, which makes housing illegal in some parts of the city, has greatly contributed to the housing shortage. He wants to reverse this with a few zoning reforms and teaming up with several partners to create an enterprise innovation district in the South End.

“Amidst a housing crisis, this is an unconscionable waste of valuable land,” said Burlington City Council Ward 4 Sarah Carpenter, executive director of the Vermont Finance Agency and former chair of the Vermont Rental Housing Advisory Board.

“I feel so strongly that this is a state and regional problem but unless municipalities own it, we’re never going to solve it,” said Carpenter.