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Cindy Reid: Statement from the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition re: S.79

While we are grateful for Governor Scott’s actions to create more affordable housing in Vermont, we are disappointed by his veto of S.79, the Rental Housing Safety Bill. This legislation had the support from a wide array of groups, including the Vermont Landlords Association, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, the Vermont Planning and Development Association, Regional Planning Commissions, the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness, and from officials within the Administration.

At a time when the need for more housing is more critical than ever, S.79 would have resulted in more housing units going on line, helping to alleviate the housing shortage. It would have addressed safety of rental housing, providing a robust professional inspection program. It also would have provided a resource to address health and safety of substandard or vacant units, of which there are an estimated 11,000 statewide. This was a multi-pronged piece of legislation carefully developed to address safety code enforcement, create a registry to provide all rental property owners access to information and resources, and provide funding for housing rehabilitation for landlords and new homeowners.

The legislation, which received strong support in the legislature, is based on years of work and the recommendations of the Rental Housing Advisory Board (RHAB), whose members were appointed by the Governor’s staff. RHAB has a diverse membership representing all stakeholders. Input on the legislation has come with collaboration from many state agencies including the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Department of Health, and the Department of Fire Safety.

The Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, represents more than 90 organizations that create, manage, and promote affordable housing, and we strongly supported S.79, the statewide rental housing safety bill. While we are disappointed by the Governor’s veto, we will continue to work to advance this legislation – this is a setback not a defeat. The Governor has been a huge supporter of housing efforts in Vermont – we will work with him and his administration to find a way to advance this bill.

Cindy Reid is the Director of Development at Cathedral Square Corporation and the Chair of the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition Steering Committee. 

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