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Chittenden County Housing Production Steady, But Affordable Units Still Lag

A seagull in front of an apartment building under construction.
Elodie Reed
A campaign to boost housing production in Chittenden County has seen mixed results. Three years in, the effort is exceeding its overall development goal, but the number of affordable units being built is lagging behind.

A campaign to produce more housing in Chittenden County has again fallen short on its affordable housing goal, but the effort’s overall numbers are on track.

Three years in to a five year effort, the Building Homes Together Campaign is exceeding its general housing production goal with 2,273 new homes built — an average of 758 houses built per year.

But production of affordable housing has lagged, with only 280 affordable units having been built over three years. The campaign's goal by this year was to be at 420 affordable units.

Brenda Torpy, CEO of Champlain Housing Trust, said more money, like the 2017 statewide housing bond, is needed to increase affordable housing production.

“There’s not a shortage of good multi-family housing being built and being planned for, so if we had the capital to make more of them affordable, those would be available to us and we could do it,” she said.

The campaign is calling for the state to approve more funding for affordable housing.

Vacancy rates in Chittenden County are also low at 1.8% — a healthy rate is considered 5%.

Regina Mahoney, with the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, said there’s a high demand for housing in the county.

“The units that are being brought on the market are still being absorbed so rapidly that it doesn't really consistently hold,” she said.

Some municipalities have been looking for ways to encourage housing development. Housing in the county’s largest city, Burlington, has lagged for years and the city is exploring new policies aimed at boosting production.

Last week, the city unveiled several new housing initiatives; they included increasing funding to the city’s housing trust fund, creating new regulations for short-term rentals and getting rid of parking requirements for developments in some areas of the city.

Liam is a reporter based in Burlington and covers a variety of issues, including courts, law enforcement and housing.
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