Can more 1-bedroom apartments help with Vermont’s housing shortage?

Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 6:17 PM EDT
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COLCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) - Dozens of single-bedroom apartments are on their way to Chittenden County. It’s a type of housing experts say is desperately needed.

“Housing is super hectic. You have to find on-campus or off-campus housing,” said Henry Hood, a sophomore at the University of Vermont.

Hood is talking about the elusive one-bedroom apartment-- a rare find in Chittenden County.

He and others-- both students and people out of school-- often struggle to find a space of their own. The county’s vacancy rate is tight at just 0.4%.

So developers Evernorth and the Champlain Housing Trust are currently renovating a group of buildings at Colchester’s Fort Ethan Allen.

The $25 million project will create 64 apartments-- one-bedroom units and studio apartments. Monthly rent will run around $1,100 with utilities included.

“For affordable housing, it’s the one and larger bedroom apartments we’re working on, this will satisfy that,” said Michael Monte of the Champlain Housing Trust.

The Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates to cool down the demand for housing and to tamper inflation, but the Champlain Housing Trust says they have yet to see Vermont’s housing market cool down; their waitlist is still about a year.

“The good news is we have these coming online at some point soon. We have other projects in the works, probably a couple hundred right now moving through the pipeline that should be online in the next year or so,” Monte said.

When people in this income bracket are unable to find housing, that has an effect on employers’ ability to recruit.

The Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce says developments like these will help chip away at the problem.

“We’re excited when we see new units coming online that will make it far easier for employers to attract and retain talent because we know people want to be here,” said Austin Davis of the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce.

A new poll from the Pew Research Center shows one-quarter of young adults live with their parents, grandparents of siblings. That’s up from 9% in 1971.

The apartments also have historic importance, as well. They were the home to the 10th Cavalry-- the Buffalo Soldiers, one of several regiments of Black soldiers who served in the early 1900s.

“This renewal of these buildings on this land for affordable housing is an appropriate next iteration of the fort,” said Matt Moore of Evernorth.

Developers have secured many of the permits already, including one for historic preservation.

They hope to break ground in the spring and have people moving in by 2024.

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