The pandemic turned an already difficult housing shortage in Vermont into an all-out housing crisis, thus a major focus of the Legislature this session has been addressing this crisis from several different angles.
The FY23 state budget invests $50 million in the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the largest annual investment in a program that has funded over 14,000 affordable homes over the past 35 years.
In bill S.210, we create the Vermont Rental Housing Improvement Program to invest $20 million to update our state’s old rental housing stock to bring it up to health and safety codes and “incentivize apartment owners to make significant improvements to both housing quality and weatherization by providing grants and forgivable loans that are matched in part by property owners.” The bill also provides authority to the Department of Public Safety Division of Fire Safety to perform rental housing inspections to ensure units meet codes and standards.
In bill S.226, we invest $5 million in the Manufactured Home Improvement and Replacement Program to rehabilitate poor quality homes, improve park infrastructure, address flood resiliency and weatherization, and remove abandoned homes. We also invest $15 million the Missing Middle Income Home Ownership Development Program to provide direct subsidies to spur development and affordability for homebuyers whose income does not exceed 120% of the area median income. The legislation includes provision to ensure continued affordability of the home for at least 99 years.
The bill also creates a contractor registration program for contractors performing work valued at more than $10,000. The Attorney General’s Office receives more consumer complaints about construction contractors than any other area, so this program is meant to protect Vermonters from fraud or scams when hiring someone to do construction work on their home. For more information about these or other provisions in S.226, see this summary from the Joint Fiscal Office.
We also expand tax credits to support downtown development and manufactured home upgrades, and streamline certain regulations related to housing and downtown development. We create a $15 million program at Career and Technical Education Centers to train students in housing construction skills. We also address water and sewer infrastructure issues, home weatherization and electrification, and broadband access which are a major challenges for housing affordability and access.