Chris Donnelly, director of community relations at the Champlain Housing Trust, recently spoke with the Burlington Free Press about many of the housing issues we face here in Vermont. Below is an excerpt from the article published today:
BURLINGTON FREE PRESS: How would you describe the housing options in Vermont? Can people find the housing they need where they want or need to live at prices they can afford? CHRIS DONNELLY: Housing options vary from region to region, but in general, wages in Vermont have not kept pace with the cost of housing. Looking statewide, the housing wage – which is the amount a renter earns to make a two bedroom, fair market rent affordable — is $19.36 per hour. There isn’t enough housing for low income households, period. The rental vacancy rate in Burlington is about 1 percent; in Bennington, it’s 2 percent. A healthy market has 5 percent vacancy. For those seeking to buy, lower interest rates have helped, but Vermont didn’t see a plummet in home prices like the rest of the country. To afford the statewide median-priced home of $200,000, you’d need to save $16,700 for down payment and closing costs, and earn about $59,000. Over half of Vermont households don’t earn that much. BFP: How does Vermont’s housing situation compare to the housing picture in neighboring states? CD: The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston studied how renters are doing in New England and found that Chittenden County had the highest percentage of renters paying more than 30 percent of their income on rent, with the exception of two counties on Cape Cod which has little rental housing. More than half of renters in five of Vermont’s 14 counties are similarly cost-burdened. This phenomenon is not isolated to Vermont, as we’re seeing Governors Patrick (MA) and Malloy (CT), and Mayor Bill de Blasio in New York City launch ambitious campaigns to address the issue.
To read the full article click here.