Commentary

Editorial: Balint and Ram talk big about housing – but have no right to

Dan Jeffries cartoon

by Guy Page

In much the same way that Joe Biden recently discovered it’s time to remove masks and drill for oil, two of Vermont’s Democratic candidates for Congress have suddenly discovered Vermont needs more housing.

This week the Senate passed S226, the Housing Omnibus Bill. Immediately Senate Pro Tem Becca Balint (D-Windham) sent out a self-congratulatory press release.

“VERMONT SENATE TACKLES HOUSING CRISIS,” the headline screams. This wondrous legislation “reforms permitting and land use regulations to make it easier to develop new housing, provides tax incentives and grants to promote housing development, and makes housing more affordable for the middle class,” Balint exclaims.

Balint is running for Congress. You read it here first: every public statement uttered by a politician in a contested election is aimed at winning that election. And Balint has stiff competition. Fellow Congress candidate Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale (D-Charlotte) knows how to issue press releases, too.

“Our local economies are suffering, families are being forced to make difficult choices, and our most vulnerable populations are without a roof over their heads,” Ram writes. “This cannot be our normal.”

To which many a Vermonter spending half a month’s pay on a crummy apartment – and glad to do it under the circumstances – is saying:

“It’s been our normal for years and it’s just getting worse. What took you so long?”

For decades the Democrats and Progressives in the Vermont Legislature have said no, no, no to affordable rural housing. They’re not stupid or incompetent. They just don’t like new housing – except maybe small units in big buildings located in already dense urban cores. Rural Vermont has millions of acres of fields and forests that would do quite nicely, but for decades they’ve stopped affordable new construction in rural areas in the name of water quality, climate change, forest fragmentation, community impact, transportation needs, citizen engagement, etc. etc. etc.. In the name of Big Government and Climate Change, they’ve increased regulations, raised taxes and fees, and increased energy costs.

Most of our senior lawmakers live in nice homes surrounded by fields and forests. So do their friends and closest supporters. Ah, the good life in Vermont. Give Balint credit – at least she lives in what in Vermont passes for an ‘urban core,’ Main Street in Brattleboro.

Ram-Hinsdale is married to Chittenden County landlord Jacob Hinsdale. Unlike their tenants, they live in Charlotte, which has no urban core at all but plenty of huge homes owned by wealthy people. Jacob Hinsdale grew up on Country Cedars Farm, now home to horse stables and riding camp – English equestrian, not western.

Vermont’s housing shortage was already horrific before the pandemic. Now that Bostonians and New Yorkers have discovered the joys of telecommuting, there’s even less available housing. The unoccupied Second Home – a thing in Vermont since the first ski lift, if not before – has become even more prominent. 23% of all Vermont homes are unoccupied – the highest in the nation.

The clever foxes in the Legislature and the ruling class have comfy dens, but the sons and daughters of Vermont have no place of their own to lay their heads.

It’s a travesty.

When Montpelier has “done something” about housing, it usually has meant dumping millions of tax dollars into $250,000/unit urban housing developments that quickly fill up. What it doesn’t do is allow towns and developers and buyers to make their own decisions about where and how to build affordable housing developments – especially in rural areas. That kind of strangling, no-growth control has been the consistent track record of the Dem/Progressive leadership.

S226 is more of the same. It dumps hundreds of millions of tax dollars into urban core de-regulation, upgrades and purchasing power. The Legislature is herding home-hungry Vermonters into Barre, Springfield, St. Albans, Rutland and other urban areas, maybe to buy but mostly to rent housing built at exorbitant costs, while continuing to declare rural Vermont – where so many lawmakers live in quiet arboreal splendor – hands-off.

Or as the bill’s drafters say in atypically plain LegiSpeak, S226 would “promote compact, sustainable communities with infill development in areas designated for growth in municipal and regional plans; and preserve open, natural space and protect natural resources and the environment.”

For better or worse, S226 may be vetoed because the senators cut-and-pasted into it H157, the contractor registry and licensing law already vetoed by Gov. Phil Scott. In addition to registry costs and paperwork and the nattering oversight all state registration augers, H157 requires all contractors to meet ‘green’ carbon-reducing standards. It’s just one more example of Climate Change regulation making Vermont homes more expensive for homeowners, homebuyers, taxpayers, and energy consumers.

This is the same Senate that this year passed an Act 250 reform bill that the business community says makes Vermont’s land development law even more restrictive. And that passed S79, a landlord registry bill that Gov. Scott and others will simply drive some small landlords out of business rather than deal with a new flurry of state-imposed regulations, paperwork and costs. (Scott vetoed that, too.)

The Vermont Democratic Party seems focused on sending Balint, Ram (or perhaps another) to Washington, perhaps to impose politically correct rent-serfdom on the whole nation. But first they will have to defeat a Republican in the general election. And at least one GOP candidate for Congress, Ericka Redic of Burlington, is also a homeowner/landlord who has felt the burn of over-regulation and over-taxation. If she or another candidate can convince housing-starved Vermonters that a vote for her means a vote for affordable shelter, the general election may not be the slam-dunk the D/Ps are hoping for.

9 replies »

  1. They need to be asked how they feel about Vermont taxpayers shelling out over $100 million on hotel rooms for the homeless since it was decided years ago that communal homeless shelters dont provide enough dignity and privacy.

  2. Vermont has more unoccupied housing than any other state in the nation! Why should we be paying millions to house “homeless”(?) in hotels/motels. Perhaps those counties responsible should be paying the bills?

  3. Spot on! Have challenged Becca/Kesha/Molly to put a comprehensive housing plan on Senate housing bill as a housing truth serum to protect them through the campaign (no plan now!). Slay the Great VT Housing “Affordable Housing” Lie…you are correct VT has never funded a single unit of truly affordable housing (30% income max rent/security only from feds, enjoyed by 1 in 5 VT renters, half need). Add Progs/Dems/Rs and the lie remains the same. @TonyRVT60

  4. Excellent article Guy! The Progressive Party time is hopefully about to come to a brutal end. I hope. It isn’t enough to drive out Vermonters while making laws “ for thee, not me!”They want to go to Washington and do it from afar. It is beyond disgusting. I am tired of all the homeless getting housed at taxpayers expense. No one asked how I felt about it. They are frivolously spending our money without any thought about who is losing. We have drs and nurse practitioners leaving their jobs, none are coming in to replace them. All due to lack of housing. Now we have pods going into a parking lot next to senior housing in Burlington. Alcohol will be allowed. What about illegal drugs? Are they going to be allowed also? We have drug dealers having shootouts because we have no police because people like Kesha Ram Hinsdale says “ there is no such thing as a good cop”! Why would anyone want to move here unless they are being paid to. Every apartment building in Vermont being built are said to be “ affordable”! For whom? New senior housing with meals and underground parking is $2500 plus per month. Only the wealthy can afford this. Something needs to give. Look at the laws they have passed, look at the voting records of these candidates. We already have three deadbeats in DC that have no idea what their constituents look like, nor do they care! Time for a change in this state!!

  5. There’s an even greater and deadlier evil threat to life that inhabits the ‘approved’ housing options this evil cadre would have new home owners, and renters live in – the Internet of Things, or IOT, that is behind the push to push 100 new cell towers across Vermont – invisible death rays from radiation from 4G and 5G – justified for ‘safety’ i.e. 911/lifeline support – embedded into new buildings.

    Add to that the poison that is in nearly ALL products used to build homes toxic to LIFE, again, and we have one more tool in the arsenal of genociding Vermonters in an approved eugenics program.

    The elite can afford the by-passes and go arounds (and lets be honest here, this also encourages graft in the construction business) where those who ‘rent’ cannot and have no choice.

    For someone like myself who has ‘electro-sensitivity syndrome’ that gets worse with each exposure – and believe me is very real in its physical and mental effects on body system and brain functioning (intentionally?), and being part of the 20% of the population who was born hypersensitive, no consideration of MY needs is being made.

    My choices are slim to none – I need an OLD housing unit with NO wifi connections, a minimum of electrical outlets (electrosmog), and wood heat. I need a building that does NOT have dependence on electricity to run as my body gets sick in those environments, and while some are clapping that my brain goes all foggy then, its not a great place to live from. Where is the outside of the computer model consideration for MY needs?
    What do I want?
    A cabin in the woods. Minimal electricity. Wood heat.

    But the orders are coming from the UN Sustainability Agenda 2030, and ALL development is now under their aegis, and they are writing the rules.
    Those writing the rules also own the companies that benefit (electric, gas, timber, solar) from our captivity in not having a choice.

    Vermont is now a hostage state by Agenda 2030.
    It has never been in line with the REALITY – not the Disneyesque warped version – of living in Vermont.
    Starting with how people choose to live here who innerstand the state of Being it takes to LOVE LIVING HERE without all the trappings of a misguided and off the rails and headed over the cliff civilization run by bankers and engineers and computer programmers/AI. NONE of that is a fit for Vermont.

    The GOODNESS of Vermont and GOOD Vermonters (good people) is being traded for profit, pure and simple.

    Qui bono?

    I cannot live in “NEW AFFORDABLE HOUSING” because the ‘standards’ will make me sick, and I will die an early death (oh wait). In actuality, no human, animal, bird, microbe or plant can. With a 12% higher death rate in Vermont, you’d think someone would pay attention.
    A perfect storm is brewing…and we Vermonters MUST remember:

    WE GET WHAT WE ACCEPT.
    Stand now or forever silenced by the tryanny of the NWO in situ, extant, and couping our State before our eyes.

    Chinarmont: Totalitarian State of.

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