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My Turn: Need common ground on affordable housing for UVM employees

Source: Burlington FreePress, 8/4/11, by Virginia Munkelwitz “Vermont Interfaith Action’s request to build affordable housing for Univer­sity of Vermont employees has been the subject of two news articles (“UVM urged to create employee hous­ing,” June 1; “Faculty hous­ing far from full,” June 9) and an editorial (“Afforda­ble housing outside UVM’s focus,” June 9) in the Bur­lington Free Press recently. As president of the VIA board and author of the re­search report that was pres­ented to about 100 people on June 6, I would like to clarify VIA’s point of view. Vermont Interfaith Action is a coalition of 11 congregations in Burlington and central Vermont. Our purpose is to make social justice a reality through systemic changes. Our Burlington congregations are: Christ Church Presbyterian, College Street Congregational, First United Methodist, Ohavi Zedek Synagogue, Saint Paul’s Episcopal, Sisters of Mercy and Unitarian Universalist. Together, we represent 2,000 people in Burlington. Despite our different faith traditions, our faith values bring us together to address the root causes of social issues. Affordable housing has been a focus for VIA and four years ago we targeted the tight housing market in Burlington. One way to open up the Burlington rental market is to reduce the number of students who rent apartments downtown, so we approached UVM about creating more student housing on-campus. In a series of meetings with UVM administrators, UVM stated that it would be more beneficial to the university to focus on employee housing, as this focus would improve their ability to “recruit and retain high quality faculty and staff who need to find housing they can afford” (UVM President Dan Fogel, June 2007). With a median rental price for a two-bedroom of $1,152, many junior faculty and staff at UVM make less than the $40,000 required to rent housing in Burlington. VIA leaders were persuaded to change direction, so we held a public meeting at Ohavi Zedek on June 9, 2007. Though President Fogel did not attend, he sent a letter praising this new direction as a “‘win-win’ strategy” and pledged to move ahead “on a priority basis” with employee housing…” Full Story: My Turn: Need common ground on affordable housing for UVM employees PDF of Story: My Turn: Need common ground on affordable housing for UVM employees

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