April 23, 2017

Town assesses affordable housing

Williston’s new Affordable Housing Task Force held its inaugural meeting last week, sitting down in the town’s planning and zoning office to look into the state of Williston’s affordable housing.

“This is an interesting and I hope a rewarding project to be a part of,” said Planning Director Ken Belliveau. “I think it’s certainly an important one here for the town.”

Selectboard member Jeff Fehrs said he has been interested in seeing more affordable housing come to Williston for a number of years.

“I’m very hopeful of what can come out of this,” he said.

Affordable housing was one of the main topics of discussion at the Selectboard’s annual retreat last summer. The board agreed to create a task force to examine the status of Williston’s affordable housing and evaluate the need for additional housing.

The group will eventually “develop a set of policy recommendations for how the town might support, stimulate and encourage the development of affordable housing,” according to the group’s charge, as outlined by the Selectboard.

To be considered affordable, annual housing costs cannot exceed 30 percent of the income of households earning the median income in Chittenden County and must be perpetually affordable.

The Selectboard hopes to have recommendations from the task force by the end of June, though Belliveau noted that the task force might need more time.

Although there are some incentives in place for affordable units, the town does not currently have any affordable housing requirements.

Maura Collins of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency—who presented housing information to the task force on Feb. 5—said that Williston, like much of the county, is sorely lacking in affordable units for the non-elderly, especially rental units. Williston renters are spending more on their housing than renters in the rest of Chittenden County and nearby towns of Essex and South Burlington, with a hefty 33 percent of Williston renters spending 50 percent or more of their income on housing.

The group is set to meet again on March 6 at 6:30 p.m.

—Stephanie Choate, Observer staff

 

Comments

  1. youngvt says:

    I am writing in response to Mr. Hoxworth’s article on transportation costs for the poor in Vermont. I would like to suggest further research on this topic before we simply just give another handout or tax credit. The poor, may, have a higher disproportionate burden on their transportation costs than the wealthier residents of Vermont; however, they also have a lower disproportionate burden on taxes and housing. Pick your evil.
    We can simply just give every poor Vermonter an energy efficient car, gas card, free tuition, renter’s rebate, etc.…but the only way out of poverty is through the combination of education, hard work, and discipline. Education and degrees are not handed out or purchased; a person has to EARN them. This seems to be the only way out of poverty—sorry, there are no shortcuts.
    If we continue this trend of enabling, our entire state will be a welfare state.

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