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Housing

Submitted by matt.stirnweis… on Fri, 11/04/2022 - 09:52
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Since coming to office, Governor Scott has prioritized the creation, preservation and revitalization of available housing and rental units in Vermont, recognizing this is also a priority issue to retaining and attracting more workers.

On three different occasions, the Governor has proposed – and worked with the Legislature to pass – the largest investments in housing in the state’s history, including a $37 million Housing for All bond in 2017 (FY18), and $250 million of new money for affordable housing creation, revitalization and for those in homelessness in 2021 (FY22) and 2022 (FY23).

Collectively, $338 million of pandemic relief and recovery money was put into these initiatives, on top of $118 million of traditional investments in housing over the same period, for a total of more than $456 million invested over the last two years. These investments have created or preserved about 2,000 units to date, and the Administration and partners expect to create or preserve about 2,000 more by 2026, for a total of about 4,000 state-supported affordable housing units.

 

Preserving and Creating Housing Units

  • Affordable/Mixed Income Housing –
    • Investing $281.5 million for creation and preservation of housing for mixed-income homeownership and rentals, permanent housing for the homeless and shelter beds. This money is allocated by the Vermont Legislature to the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB) to execute on these investments (FY22-FY23). To date, these investments have created Nearly 1,200 new affordable homes, and created or preserved nearly 500 shelter beds
    • Investing to improve the quality and availability of manufactured homes, with over $5 million in the Manufactured Home Replacement Program and the Manufactured Home Community Program. 
    • Proposed and passed a housing bond, valued at $37 million, to increase availability of homes working families can afford (FY18). With this bond, the state has created 843 new affordable housing units.

 

  • Filling the Gap in Middle-Income Housing – Proposed and enacted the creation of the Missing Middle Home Construction Program. Funded with $15 million, this pilot program will help spur development of housing middle-income families can afford. (FY23)

 

  • Tax Credits to Support Investment in Affordable Housing – Proposed and passed a provision allowing captive insurance companies to purchase low-income tax credits, which will raise additional funds for affordable housing. (FY19)

 

  • Prioritizing housing projects – The Scott Administration and federal and private partners continue to prioritize housing projects through grants available through other economic development programs, including the State Brownfields program; the Community Investment Program; the Vermont Community Development Program; Northern Borders Regional Commission; and more. Additionally, the Governor proposed, and the Legislature supported, investments to help communities expand water, sewer and wastewater infrastructure, which is essential for expanding housing. 

 

Revitalizing Existing Stock

  • Created the Vermont Housing Improvement Program (VHIP), funded with over $32 million over 3 years (FY21-23), to help small landlords revitalize vacant rental units, bringing them back to market with improved quality, an affordable rate. Most of these units go to families exiting homelessness. To date, this program has improved and brought online nearly 350 affordable rental units.

 

Regulatory Reform to Accelerate Housing

  • Making housing development easier in targeted areas - While much more reform is needed, the Scott Administration has worked with the Legislature to make regulatory changes that will expedite housing development in the areas where we want and need more housing, including: 
    • Made it easier for small towns and villages to secure a Neighborhood Development Area Designation in Act 182 of 2022. This designation makes these small towns eligible for development tools like tax credits and Act 250 exemptions for affordable housing projects. 
    • Streamlined and simplified the regulatory process for the development of Priority Housing Projects (PHPs) in Act 69 of 2017, making it easier to build housing in targeted areas.
    • Modernized permitting laws to allow property owners to build Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).

 

  • Modernizing municipal rules and regulations - Propose, supported and enacted a series of initiatives to encourage, and help, municipalities modernize bylaws with a goal of allowing more housing in the areas where it is needed, including:
    • Increased funding for the Bylaw Modernization and Municipal Planning grant programs in FY23.
    • Made it more difficult for municipalities to deny development of small multi-family units based on certain criteria (though more needs to be done to address other criteria that can deny these projects) in Act 179 of 2020. 
    • Required cities and towns to respond to Act 250 applicants on any municipal impacts within 90 days to help expedite this review process. 

 

Supporting Homeowners and Renters

  • Home purchasing assistance - Drawing from the Governor’s proposals, the FY20 revenue bill increases available tax credits supporting first-time homebuyers and affordable housing by $250,000, helping to bridge the gap for those searching for housing that’s affordable in Vermont.

 

  • Renter rebate reform - Proposed, and the Legislature passed via H.934 in 2020, reforms to the renter rebate program. By simplifying the application and improving efficiency, we’ll reduce the burden and lower administrative costs resulting in about $800,000 more in rebates for the low-income renters who need them.

 

Supporting Vermonters Facing Homelessness

  • The Scott Administration, led by the Department for Children & Families and the Department of Housing and Community Development, are focused on connecting homeless households to new units, and connecting Vermonters with housing navigation services, while investing in permanent housing, shelter beds, and human services needs.
    • From April 2020 to May 2022, over 1,800 households have exited homelessness to safe and stable housing.
    • State investments, through VHCB, have created 160 new shelter beds and preserved 314 more across 18 shelters.
    • The VHIP program has brought nearly 350 affordable rental units online, most of which are going to families exiting homelessness.

 

  • From 2020 to 2022 alone, the State Auditor has estimated that over $300 million has been spent to directly support homeless Vermonters, more than tripling annual support in any prior year.
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