Rutland, VT– New housing plans have been announced by the Rutland City Mayor’s Office. In what he calls an “ambitious initiative,” Mayor Mike Doenges says he’s trying to address a number of economic challenges, including a declining population.

The City of Rutland has virtually no vacant housing options, according to Mayor Doenges. To try and fix this, he set a goal of creating 1,000 new housing units over the next five years, which he says will work toward solving a handful of economic issues.

“We need housing everywhere, physically in every neighborhood in our city, we could use some growth,” says Doenges. “There are people that want to come here, and we need to grow that population, and if we don’t, we’re all going to be paying the same rate in taxes. We need new people to come in and develop and help us grow our community so we can reduce that burden on everyone,” he says.

He says the new units would cover affordable housing, market rate, and even luxury units, saying there will be housing options for people across all income levels.

The Rutland Development Authority is just one agency helping in this large task. Executive Director Ed Bove says Rutland has the structure to become highly developed.

“We have lots of opportunities, our housing situation is a little different than other parts of the state where our infrastructure is already good sized, and could add more, so the question is where could we put that,” says Bove.

One potential development site is an empty lot on Center Street that used to house the Berwick Hotel until it burned down in 1973. Bove says a number of units could be built there.

Denges says in the last few decades, Rutland’s population has been declining, resulting in higher taxes. Along with the City’s need for housing, Doenges says he hopes to grow the population to “lessen the burden on the community.” He’s hopeful this can happen.

“When you look at Rutland now, we’ve seen a decline since the late 1970s, early 80s, to now, and the last few years, from 2020 to 2024, we’ve actually seen an increase,” says Doenges.

He says his plan could be a long path, but a necessary one, as he says he’s committed to pushing Rutland toward economic recovery.

Doenges admits, his housing goal is ambitious, but through different funding avenues, he says it’s possible.

“We’re not doing all this through one partner or one developer, if we have 10 or 12 developers here all working to achieve that one goal, we’ll actually be able to achieve that in the period of time,” says Doenges.

Bove remains unsure if 1,000 unites will be enough for the community past the five-year plan, but says there’s still more room for growth after that.