LaBarge: Answer me this, D/Ps – what is Affordable Housing?

By John LaBarge

Recently several mayors of Vermont’s larger cities showed up at the legislature to once again complain that Vermont needs affordable housing. For more than a decade the cry for affordable housing has come from the Legislature. The problem is you never hear from any of them what is considered affordable.  

Would one of you advocates please tell me how much a month for rent or a mortgage is affordable? 

John LaBarge

What percentage of your NET pay should go towards housing? If you can’t put a price tag on it, then how will you know when we reached our goal? Maybe you Democrats and Progressives don’t want to know because it’s a great political talking point.

Here’s the real problem. We will never see affordable housing in our state because it is not only about the cost of housing but with the high cost of living. People can’t afford an apartment or house because they have to spend too much on health care, child care, property taxes, food, clothing, heat, electricity, internet, phone service, car registration, car insurance, garbage and recycling fees, gas for their cars, diesel, sales and use taxes on products, etc. Vermont ranks one the highest states in the nation for many of these monthly services and cost of living in general. Unaffordable housing is also about not having enough money left from your paycheck to afford rent or a mortgage. 

Democrats and Progressives have been in control in Montpelier for decades now, have never met a tax or fee, or incentive program we have to pay for they couldn’t fall in love with. All in the name of what’s good for the people. Feel good legislation and a nanny state mentality is what strips our hard earned pay checks, leaving many with little money for housing or child care and in many cases just enough for the necessities.  So again, Democrats and Progressives, how much a month do you think a person should pay for housing? Let’s start talking dollars, and go from there. 

Now that Progressives and Democrats are in complete control in Montpelier with no risks of a Governor’s veto, they can begin their social engineering through taxation. Through the Global Warming Solution Act they will increase the cost of gas, diesel, propane and natural gas until it forces people to convert or go without. They will try to sneak it through so it doesn’t look like a tax or fee levied on Vermonters. They will continue forcing people into electric vehicles (we pay for the incentives), forcing people to purchase heat pumps (we pay for incentives), and who knows what gas engine tools they will ban forcing landscapers and other workers to buy all-new electric tools. Also, new mandates and regulations force contractors and landlords to spend more – thus increasing housing costs.

I was born and raised in Burlington. I would love to live to my end here in Vermont. But I see Vermont becoming a Martha’s Vineyard where only the wealthy elite will be able to live and enjoy the Vermont so many natives have fled because they can no longer afford to live here. The only Vermonters to remain will be those servicing the wealthy. 

I’m seeing a political scene in Vermont where elected officials legislate and think with their emotions instead of their brains – and a large number of voters do the same. Our beautiful and once independent state is either lost or will have to hit rock bottom before Vermont voters wake up and realize we are being manipulated by social zealots with a total control agenda. We will end up with a two-party system, Democrats and Progressives who all think the same.

The author is a Grand Isle resident and former Representative and House Republican Leader.

Categories: Commentary

19 replies »

  1. The exact same Real Estate property value mechanisms are and have been in play for a century, Vermonters.

    Guess where else “affordable” housing has long been demanded because prices of properties have greatly increased and younger people, the working class, & those with limited incomes for a plethora of reasons want more choices? Long Island, NY, New York City, Boston & its suburbs, suburban Virginia, D.C., Rhode Island, New Jersey, etc. etc. etc……the list goes on & on. And utilities, automobiles, & healthcare are expensive everywhere – not JUST in Vermont!

    The free market determines these prices —- NOT a supposedly “free” government.

    Once again? Want to get in the “investing game” in the stock, Real Estate, or art markets? Be studious & industrious. Stay in school. Go to college or trade school or even join the armed services. Don’t use or abuse drugs. Marry. Begin a family only when you are prepared. Obey the law. Buy whatever you can afford and trade up over the decades. Stop looking for hand-outs.

    Oh and realize this: Each of these markets is quite volatile, so don’t necessarily think owning a home & maintaining a home is a cash cow. It isn’t. We’re on the brink of yet another recession. Home prices are goin’ south. Again.

    • While what you state is accurate. Vermont is uniquely progressive, a on party system. I invite you to read United Nations Agenda 2030, check out the Sustainabe Development Goals, because our polititians are implementing this agenda, which impacts everything from energy to water and education. All social aspects.. For example, Goal 10.3, “Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcomes…” This is by definition socialism. America already has laws around equal opportunity, so America is currently in the process of enforcing equal outcomes via the Social Justice movement, where white people are scapegoat for all unequal outcomes under the banner of systemic racism. So this state is administering equity outcomes relative to health and housing, under the premise of health equity and housing equity.

      Justice in the Social Justice lexicon means communism. The spontaneity that arrises after forced equity. Socialism is an administered economy in which outcomes are made equal.

      The UN AGENDA 2030 SDGs have now been incorporated into k-12 and higher education in service to the United Nations through UNESCO.

      The NEA and NEAF and our government partner with UNESCO, a United Nations organization, to control US education. UNESCO is responsible for Common Core, gender theory, extensive pornographic sex education, and CRT in schools.

    • Sorry…….typing far too fast here today. Manchester, Dorset, Woodstock, Old Bennington, etc. ALL look dirt cheap compared to a MYRIAD of towns in NY, New England, and elsewhere wherein one might wish to live & hope to buy a home. So is VT affordable”? Yes; relatively speaking, comparatively speaking, and dependent upon the context.

  2. Congratulations Mr LaBarge, you get it. Vermont has become Martha’s Vinyard. It’s been a long process spanning 5 decades, probably longer but I’m not old enough to remember.

  3. Imagine a rock bottom starter home for $150,000.00 for a young couple if you could find one. Conventional lending requires 20% down, that’s $30,000.00. If they go with a 5% down loan they are stuck with a $142,000.00 mortgage with $7,500.00 down payment and then are strapped with PMI (private mortgage Insurance for at least 5 years or until they reach an equity level of 20% loan to value. This adds another $1,000.00 to $1,500.00 more per year tacked onto the mortgage monthly payment. Even this, combined with student loans, all the insurances and living expenses knocks most couples out of the housing market. Even small apartments are now over the $1,000.00 per month rate plus utilities. Add car payments, entertainment, food, clothing, 2 vehicles 2 sets of winter tires, repairs and on and on. And what couple starting out even has the $7,500.00 for the lower down payment. My advice to young couples is, get to hell out of year and move into America. Leave socialist woke Vermont and don’t look back. Advice is from an old Vermonter with over 65 years of Vermont struggle against the progressive/Democratic nanny state, overlords.

    • Dano, Got to agree with RGB, I’ve had and still have auto payments, bought during highs in the market & sold during recessions, managed to do the same during employment changes, etc. Not sure where you’ll be directing all these young people to go where they can make a livable wage and still purchase a low-priced home because it surely won’t be anywhere in downstate NY, or suburban CT, RI, MA, or in NJ, nor in any area where waterfront is an option – be it lake/ocean/river regions. And even towns such as Manchester, Dorset, or Woodstock Vermont make towns such as Martha’s Vineyard or other coastal retreats look dirt cheap comparatively.

      On the positive side, mortgage interest remains tax deductible, VA loans often require little to nothing down, and “entertainment” here is virtually nothing compared to urban venues.

      Americans need to make a choice. Either work your way towards homeownership, or pay rent for your living space which is typically no cheaper with less tax deductions — or continue whining about how difficult it all is and accept socialism/communism. Those dreary, architecturally devoid, high-rise, but affordable housing complexes in the Ukraine, in China, and in the former Soviet Union seem bleak & depressing to me, but I bet many are “free!” “free!” “free!” as US Senator Sanders loves to tout.

      In the end though, someone is still paying for them. I guess that’s me and you.

      No thank you.

      • Some are free as I recently saw a video on this topic, except that many are owned by corporations, such as Microsoft and other large global entities. If someone looses their job, they also loose their housing.

        Not all are free. Some people do purchase homes in highrise buildings. These people have to make mortgage payments even if the building is pending construction. These payments could go on for years before the building is complete.

        Highrise, smart cities, like China’s is the model the global powers want to adopt. This is why the Dutch government removed all the Dutch farmers from their land, not because they were dangerous insurrectionists, as claimed by the media. The farmers were protesting because the government was stealing their land to build a new surveillance smart city to move folks into.

      • I get what you’re saying but everything is relative. The wages and lack of decent paying jobs here is the main problem. My wife and I built 4 homes in Vermont and did exactly what you said. We started small and built up. We made fairly good money. Unfortunately, she got cancer at 45 and passed away. My two children were still living with me and I worked my business and two part time jobs to keep up. I also got buried in credit card debt, sold my home and rented for 9 years before I could purchase a small place for myself. I know the hardship road, I’ve lived it. While we were able to build homes, new couples today can’t even afford the land, a crazy mound system if rural and cost of construction. I say move for opportunity to increase wealth because there’s no opportunity here. Or stay here and rent an over-priced chopped up apartment and just survive. The influx of wealthy liberals in the last few years has the housing market extremely high, but a crash is on the horizon because the economy is shot and mortgage money costs more. The answer here is to change the government as a start and ditch the liberals and RInos that have destroyed Vermont.

      • Well, little to nothing down means larger monthly payments and PMI which added $100 per month to my mortgage that I paid for 5 years.which added $6,000 to the cost of the house.
        Add that now to the cost of housing and it’s just another tax to add to the property taxes which continue to rise. The coming housing crash is going to put lots of people upside down in the mortgage. This happens when the market over heats as this one did because of covid escape and crime in the cities. Supply and demand controls the price.

    • You can leave one factor out of your advice to young couples: entertainment. We have been entertained to death, which is why many are woke, but not awake. No one these days can afford entertainment.

  4. Welcome to the freebie nation. It bites you in the butt after a few generations.
    Nobody could ever see it coming… oh, no.

  5. Dano, as a single person, I bought a condo for 80K (so that 150K for two people is about the same). I did it in 1992. I was making about 40K a year as a trucker. I drove a used car. And there was no zero down. I did pay PMI. How is that so difficult? It isn’t. Get rid of cable TV for starters. You can get a car note for what cable costs these days.

    • Except his point was that there is nothing available for 80k or 150k respectively here.

    • RGB how much is that same condo now? Truckers are making about 68k a year. so wages went up about 10k a decade, did the house price go up that much? or more? I bought my house in Colchester in 1981 for 52k. It just sold 2 years ago for north of 700k, with no updates since the late 90’s. So yea, the cost of housing seems crazy because wages just haven’t kept up. Some people just gotta realize that home ownership just won’t be possible for them this generation, and move on.

    • 1992 dollar do not match 2023 dollar in value. In 1982, I bought my first acre of land to build on, the cast was $7,500.00. My first mortgage was $32,000.00 and the house payment was $458.00 per month at 14% interest in Jimmy Carter days. My second home lot in the city cost $15,000. That same land today would be $70,000.00 before construction. We aren’t talking in 1992 or1982 dollars and land prices. Also the building codes have changed and there are new laws on septic systems and so forth. $40,000 as a trucker in 1992 was a very good salary. My first professional job in 1982 paid $17,500. The wages today have not kept up with the costs of everything else.

  6. This is the outcome when you cede your individual “Property Rights” to a collective government.

  7. Yes, the new session is started 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.

  8. Thank you so much for your editorial John! Your points have been mostly ignored or discounted by the Marxist (VTDigger, Seven Days, VPR) mass media machines that preach “We need more government involvement!” as a solution. Poppycock!