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Vermont Interfaith Action presents housing requests to Legislature

Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 12:33 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 16, 2021 at 5:29 AM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermonters of faith are pushing the Legislature to invest more money in housing.

The Vermont Interfaith Action held a meeting Thursday night to lay out four specific requests for the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. They want the Legislature to commit the necessary funds to create 5,000 housing units as soon as possible; address racial disparities in housing distribution by fully funding a pathway of housing opportunities that is inclusive, accessible, and accommodating; establish a rental housing registry and inspection system to ensure safety of rental housing stock; and fund a comprehensive plan to support all Vermonters experiencing homelessness.

A state report reveals 2,700 Vermonters are currently living in a motel or hotel. The V.I.A. says they conducted months-long research alongside legislators and housing experts and found that the housing crisis is primarily due to not having enough housing stock.

Their requests come after the 2020 Vermont Housing Needs Assessment report revealed the percentage of new homes created in the state over the past few decades has dropped from 1.6% in the 1980s to 0.22% in 2020. And that number is expected to continue to fall, reaching 0.18% in 2025.

The V.I.A. is also worried about the quality and affordability of rentals. “As housing costs have steadily risen, wages have not. Over one-third of all households in Vermont fall into the cost burden designation. That is 36% of all households in Vermont are spending more than 30% of their income on housing and 16% are spending more than 50% of their income on housing costs,” said Rev. Beth Ann Maier, the deacon at Good Shepherd Episcopal in Barre.

Some of the 2,700 housing-insecure people across the state offered their own suggestions in making sure every Vermonter has their own place to stay. “Repeatedly, people have asked the state, can’t they take some of these abandoned buildings and turn them into affordable housing or even purchase foreclosed houses and turn them into affordable homes,” said Tammy Minard.

“We want you to know that we’re thankful that we’re not out on the streets and that we have a roof our heads. Just try to think of us that need our support animals also,” said Iris Peppin.

“Transportation and establishing a sense of community within our new housing situation is important for the success of new housing,” said Tiny Gray.

The V.I.A. also says Vermont homes are aging and they’re worried they do not meet national standards, which is one reason they’re pushing for the rental housing registry so that the Legislature can track the conditions of houses in the state.

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