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How our 2021 Legislative Priorities Fared

The 2021 Legislative session in Vermont was a historic one for housing advocates across the board. While VAHC cheers the unprecedented levels of investment in affordable housing, this year was not without its bumps, challenges, and losses. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the session was conducted entirely remotely. A new biennium brought new leaders in both chambers (including House Speaker Jill Krowinski and Senate Pro Tem Becca Balint) and new members in key committees. Live-streamed committee hearings and sessions expanded participation and made it possible for people to testify or follow along remotely, but the technological challenges of “zoom democracy” were evident. Lawmakers’ inability to meet in person impeded the collaboration and negotiations necessary for the monumental tasks in front of them. The Coalition owes enormous gratitude to the lawmakers and advocates who helped accomplish big investments and push the envelope of possibility during the session. 

Each year, the Coalition advocates for Vermont to adequately fund all three “legs” of the housing “stool”:

  1. Capital investments to create more permanent affordable housing

  2. Housing-related financial assistance that fills the affordability gap for low‐wage working families or those living on fixed incomes, and 

  3. Supportive services for those with the greatest challenges to finding and maintaining housing. 

Due to the Coalition’s leadership transition in 2021, we narrowed the scope of our focus during this legislative session to five areas that were emerging as key legislative opportunities and challenges:

  1. Funding for the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) for affordable housing development;

  2. Maintaining wide eligibility and service providers’ ability to continue to provide support to unhoused people through the transition of the General Assistance (GA) Emergency Housing Program; 

  3. Funding of weatherization programs;

  4. The manufactured housing tax credit; and 

  5. The Rental Housing Safety Bill. 

With the help of our many partners, we kept members informed on the progress of these important goals as well as other issues that came up during the legislative session. Our 2021 State Legislative Wrap-Up concentrates on those priorities. 

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