Ehlers: $773,000 homes mean Montpelier really doesn’t want affordable housing

by James Ehlers

‘Vermont Affordable Housing’ – why isn’t there any? Because they don’t really want to build it.

What sounds more noble and politically palatable? A) We need to make it easier to bulldoze forests and destroy streams so that developers, our campaign donors, can get even richer or B) We need to modernize and streamline regulations to address the shortage of affordable housing?

“Introducing Spear Meadows… South Burlington’s premiere new neighborhood. Featuring a highly desirable Spear Street location, this brand new neighborhood will have luxury townhomes and carriage homes with sun-drenched, mood-boosting designs.”

Two beds, two baths, 1930 square feet in a high density location: South Burlington. Cost: $773,000 and many more at $800,000 plus. That means $80K down and $60K-plus a year for 30 years.

Vermont’s median household income: $70,000.

Who’s ready for another legislative session of self-interested politicians telling us why public health and environmental protections need to be weakened and we all just need to work longer and harder to subsidize the profits of wealthy developers?

Wonder why South Burlington did not build a solar farm in this location given its proximity to the base load demand of all the 6,000 to 9,000 square-foot “homes” and heated garages already on Spear Street. Or workforce housing for all the cleaners, servers, and property maintenance staff needed for this “highly desirable” location.

The author is Children’s Environmental Health Director with Vermonters for a Clean Environment.

Categories: Commentary

26 replies »

      • You misunderstand. The housing market is being dictated by government right now — and the purpose of the dictation is not to allow low income people to afford houses. Affordable housing is being frozen out, zoning review by zoning review. When you build your new house, you’ll not be able to install an $1100 water heater: the code will require a $3000 one. Government has been in the game for 25 years, and the leaders of government do not want poor people in their neighborhood.

      • Manipulating the housing market works well when the intent is to create a majority of people who are utterly dependent on their govt for their basic needs. This is what we been duped into voting for.

  1. I never could figure out how people could believe people who say one thing, while openly doing another. We are in favor of open boarders, but I don’t want the people coming here where I live. Yes, we want housing for the poor, just not in my town. Yes, we are in favor of wind power, but I don’t want the turbines to ruin my view of the lake, mountains, or ocean. We have to work towards a carbon neutral society, except me as I need my jet to get to, and from my climate change events. Nowadays, I believe we refer to it as “virtue signaling”. Double speak is anything but virtuous. The English language is becoming more, and more meaningless as definitions become blurred by disingenuous political double speak. Do actions no longer speak louder than words ? How can some people be so perpetually blinded by this b.s. ? If it is true that the truth will set you free, is it not also true that lies will keep you controlled ? Of course we live in a time where it is said that there are such things as “alternate, or my truths”. Did we not call such positions “opinions” not long ago ? What has changed ?

  2. Yes, the new session is about to start and the newly seated legislature is ready to again PRETEND that they will address the reasons that it is economically impractical to build affordable dwellings in Vermont. One can argue about the virtues or detriments of Act 250, Vermont’s statewide zoning laws that was the first knife in the back of affordable homeownership. Then came the septic revisions that often necessitated $20,000 pumped mound systems that are just so attractive in the front yard. More recently, fire safety officials got their noses involved in mandating excessively-large windows, wide driveways, fire ponds, and/or sprinkler systems in single-family homes if they happen to be “too far from the firehouse”. All due respect to fire safety professionals, but I dont ever remember voting for any of them. Now we have “stormwater” mandates adding to the price of a house. Remember when we used to just call it “rain”? On the federal level, we have an administration and a political party that regards a wide-open border policy a humanitarian obligation, and does not have the mental acuity to realize that letting in hundreds of thousands of indigent migrants will have any contrary effect on a chronic nationwide shortage of affordable housing.
    Other than the fundamental market laws of supply and demand, excessive government bureaucracy is primarily responsible for the high cost of housing in Vermont. So, go ahead Montpelier demoprogs and bring on more ineffectual virtue signaling legislation. Maintaining Vermont as a premium-priced theme park is what you do best. We voted for this.

  3. Meanwhile, I just want 16 x 16 x 16 heated with wood, and 65 dollars worth of electricity a month… and NO WIFI/cable only… oh, and quiet and private… that seems to be asking for Mt. Olympus nowadays… if you’re not a millionaire having sold your soul to Mammon…

  4. Meanwhile….at the southern border – the democ-rats are allowing millions upon millions of impoverished illegal immigrants into our borders and that same party is paying citizens handsomely to NOT work, therefore intentionally increasing the need for more “affordable” housing.

    So…….of course VT needs low-income or “affordable” housing – as does virtually every other state in this nation – in order to provide, via social programs & principals, a way to offer multi-millions who either refuse to work or aren’t capable of filling positions which often lead to more suitable housing choices or to younger people who cannot manage finances properly enough to know that more “suitable” housing choices, communities, and amenities come over time to most.

    I continue to not buy into most of this. Way back in the 1980’s, Long Island NY was claiming their younger population was all leaving for lack of employment opportunities. People were clamoring for, yup: “affordable housing”. The ways & means of their predecessors who managed to somehow build wealth over decades by managing their fiscal affairs with maturity & forethought have gone by the wayside and have often been replaced by drug use/abuse, out-of-wedlock pregnancies, choosing curriculums that offer minimal chance for employment, etc.

    Supposed lack of “affordable” housing back in the mid twentieth century was termed something very different than it is today. Back then it was termed “supply and demand”. It was a driving principal of economics 101 or market forces. You worked, you married, you oft waited, and eventually you made a home for yourself. Nobody expected another to do so for them, and the same can be achieved today.

    Case in point: The majority of American citizens over the age of 40 or thereabouts.

      • Actually, I’ve dealt with the housing AND rental market my entire life having, in light of a variety of circumstances – having to move from state to state over the course of years. Latest move? 2021.

        Somehow, I managed – through recession, Covid19, depressed markets & inflated markets, through lay-offs, through employment changes, etc. Perhaps it had absolutely nothing to do with personal accountability & responsibility whatsoever.

        But I can state one thing that didn’t assist/facilitate with my ability to manage: The government.

        “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”. Yeah, no thanks.

      • Were they different two years ago when I last purchased in 2021? Or how about when I last rented in 2018? My, the “housing market” must be a synonym to “terminal velocity” in my Dictionary.

  5. “But I can state one thing that didn’t assist/facilitate with my ability to manage: The government”.

    So you refused the mortgage interest and property deductions on your income tax? Insisted that the socialist fire department not provide you coverage if a spark ignited your house? Same with the socialist police in the event of a robbery?

    How about the socialist roads past the house that made your property more valuable than trekking across fields? Not to mention the socialized snow plowing?

    Methinks you got a lot more help than you realize!

    • Oh, is that all it took to attain & keep my homes over decades? Deducting mortgage interest when I duly pay my taxes annually? Huh. I’ll be. Well, then this is then a fine opportunity to better encourage the new generations that they too can successfully emerge from their parents’ basements and also be eligible for such incentives in purchasing a home, just as generations did before them, should that be their desire!

      As far as insurance coverage – my coverage comes from what is called an “insurance company” – an entity generally well-known as a legal entity or commercial enterprise formed by an individual or group thereof in order to exchange goods and services for capital – common within what is known as a Capitalist society.

      Insofar as my fire department – that is manned by a group of volunteers who are not remunerated via salary but via the personal satisfaction achieved in courageously protecting and serving their community in this volunteer effort purportedly originated by founding Father Benjamin Franklin back in the days when we were colonies prior to becoming a Constitutional Republic.

      As far as the infrastructure within our communities and our nation, those are elements put into place and maintained through, once again, the taxes collectively amassed by the citizenry of this Constitutional Republic – i.e.: at least the percentage of those who pay income taxes – which is estimated by the federal government to be merely only approximately 40% of the general population each year.

      The USA was formed as a Constitutional Republic almost 250 years ago and forever shall it stand.

      I’d try my best if I were you to keep saving for that down payment on a home. Nothing in life is free.

      • Not all of us have money lying around from social security and medicare paying our bills to afford SEVERAL houses over the course of decades. But I’m sure you worked hard and refused all help all those years, as well as any tax breaks that the govt has offered you in all those many years. As for only 40% of the gen pop paying income taxes each year, wildly misleading. One would read that as 60% of income is under the table (untaxed) each year. What the statistic is saying is that 40% of the general population is ELIGIBLE to pay taxes (meaning they are of age to collect income and pay taxes). Want to fix that? Get rid of income tax, and add a VAT (Value Added Tax) to goods and services. that way pimps drug dealers and crackheads will pay their fair share, and the american worker gets more back in their check.

  6. With this doubling or tripling of Vt.’s “homeless” during the “pandemic” I just wonder how many of these folks just found out about the Vt. policies of motel/hotel stays from “Social Media” & left for better benefits here? How many are REALLY “Vermonters”? I blame the local banks for NOT lending to local younger folks to buy old fixer-upper housing stock, they’d rather lend to SLUMLORDS to convert to (more lucrative) apartments, which they have done to about 1/2 of the old places here in North Troy Village. But the “landlords” get theirs too as every month’s end sees pickups full of furniture as they play “screw the landlord” moving from one to another.
    But my major question is WHEN does it all end? HOW MANY people do we WANT here? Do we keep building until we resemble New Jersey or Massachusetts? At what point does the quality of life factor in? Do we keep building/growing until the algae “blooms” are on the lake year round? When do we stop?

    • Anecdote: Overheard someone on the dole in an apartment across the street out on the porch talking to a friend from NH on the phone how much more in goodies they could get if they move to VT. Thankfully they move way a few months later having not paid rent for numerous months and trashing the apartment, including bashing holes in the wall which they used as trash and garbage receptacles.
      Why would anyone other than the Gov’t want to be a landlord in this state. Which is probably by design.

      • It’s has become very profitable now to be a landlord or hotel operator in Vermont since the taxpayers are on the hook for the bill AND the damages.

  7. Let’s just give them the benefit of the doubt that they’ve already discounted “massively reduce property values” as an option.

    The only remaining solution is to build smaller, denser, less-valuable housing. Hopefully, they start by building in their own back yards.

    • Ahhh….the smaller, denser, less-valuable housing is PRECISELY what was originally proposed by the Obama administration in all new zoning or altered zoning bylaws across this country. In other words? They already thought of that!

      And in Vermont? It’s very quietly being worked into the zoning bylaws of a town you likely live in – just in preparation for these obedient towns to have constructed the type of enviable housing accommodations you see standing in locales such as the former USSR and in Communist China, amongst many others of the “socialist” persuasion.

      Sometimes I ponder late at night: “Golly, I wonder how many of those dense projects are presently being built in Martha’s Vineyard, MA or Chappaqua, NY”?

      Any guesses? Again, asking for a friend.

  8. Hey morons Just keep voting in these mushrooms head liberals!! This is what you get period!! $$$$$$$$$$

  9. The housing bubble is about to burst. Same as it did in 2008, but this time it will be much bigger and will wipe out more homeowners. The banks, the developers, and the government all ready know what is coming. The amount of foreclosures (post-COVID payment moratorium) is not being talked about at all. Those who bought homes in the past three years are upside down by tens of thousands. What they got away with in 2008, is nothing compared to what it coming this year. Pay no mind to the elected officials and their split tongues. The entire system is grinding to a halt as the Fed is bankrupt, the country is bankrupt, and petro dollar is going away. Keep the roof over your head that you have now. Praise God you have it and pray you will be able to keep it.

    • And most of the voting public must think this is all a good thing because they
      brought it on themselves by voting for democrats and progressives…what could go wrong?

Leave a Reply