Commentary

Scott: new housing IS workforce development

Montpelier, Vt. - Governor Phil Scott today delivered the following remarks as part of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Coalition (VHCC) Legislative Week Kick-Off:

Governor Scott: It is good to be with you to talk about some of the most important issues facing our state, like housing, supporting rural Vermont and protecting our natural resources. And I’m pleased to report, these are areas I’ve emphasized, and invested in, as well.

In January, I laid out an agenda that prioritizes growing our workforce, supporting our kids and strengthening our communities.

And as I’ve said for the last two years, thanks to billions in federal aid, we have a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to make a real difference. But in order to make the most of this moment, we have to be strategic and make smart investments in tangible projects that have been out of reach for far too long.

If we stay focused, we can grow the economy in every county, leaving Vermont in far better financial shape than it has ever been.

These principles are important for all of our initiatives and especially when it comes to the $1 billion we received as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Specifically, I proposed using ARPA funds for housing; water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure; broadband; help for businesses; and projects that make us more resilient to climate change and move us closer to our emissions goals.

Strengthening our communities will keep more Vermonters here and attract more workers and families, which we so desperately need.

As we work to reverse our workforce shortage, it’s important to recognize that all of this – housing, infrastructure, broadband, cell service and protecting our natural resources – is workforce policy.

***

In my view, housing that workers and families can afford is a top priority. This is why I proposed investing heavily in housing, and I put much of that money in our Budget Adjustment (BAA) proposal.

As many of you may know, the BAA makes midyear changes to the fiscal year budget, typically to fund urgent needs that can’t or shouldn’t wait for funding through the normal legislative process, which usually ends in May.

Seeing the housing need as urgent, I asked for about half of this session’s $145 million housing proposal to be passed in Budget Adjustment. Unfortunately, the Legislature hasn’t supported that yet. I hope we can still move most of these initiatives forward as quickly as possible over the next few months, but it won’t be as quick if it is not put back in the BAA.

Over the last year, we’ve focused heavily on permanent housing for homeless Vermonters.

As a result – and with help from VHCC and its partners – we have built about 800 new affordable units with another 800 under development, and helped over 1,300 struggling families transition out of homelessness. 

A big part of this work has been in our Vermont Housing Improvement Program. VHIP has helped add 210 units across the state, and 50% of those have housed the homeless. I’ve proposed another $20 million for this program and, again, I’m disappointed the Legislature did not leave it in Budget Adjustment, but I hope to still see it make it through.

***

All of this is important, but I also want to stress to you today our need to do more for what I’m calling the “missing middle.”

Right now, the supply of affordable homes is practically non-existent. In December, the median home price in Vermont was more than $369,000. Last month, according to the Vermont Association of Realtors, there were only 136 homes for sale that a middle-income family can afford.  

So, in addition to the tens of millions of dollars I have proposed for more mixed-income housing, my team is pushing a creative approach that will help make it profitable to build more housing for middle-income families so that developers, including some of the non-profit partners in this meeting, can actually afford to build it.

This missing middle income housing initiative is backed with $15 million, and it is another area where we need more support for quick action in the Legislature.

***

Housing is only one piece of the puzzle, and we are fortunate to have so many opportunities to put our state further down a path where every region – and every community – has greater economic prosperity.

With that in mind, I’ve also proposed significant investments to help revitalize more downtowns, expand our outdoor recreation economy, support agriculture and working lands, address climate change and help more businesses and non-profits survive and recover from the pandemic.

As I said, all these things are critical to keeping workers here and attracting more of them. But I’ve also proposed a number of initiatives to increase training, support career and technical education, recruit and retain more healthcare and childcare workers and much more.

***

We are truly at a historic moment in our history and if we stay focused on addressing these long-standing challenges – and doing the hard work to plan for all of this federal money before one-off bills are passed – we can make sure we get this right and make a significant, lasting difference for Vermonters and for future generations to come.

Categories: Commentary

Tagged as: ,

10 replies »

  1. Between age 22 through 29 after I graduated with honors from college, I rented a 1 bedroom apartment & paid rent, had a car loan & “student” debt…At 29, I purchased a small 1000 sq. ft house in rural NY two hours from my employer & took out a mortgage. At 39, after selling that house, I purchased a larger house with a larger mortgage in a rural VT town. In my early fifties, after working hard – some weeks seven days per week, my husband & I purchased a home we truly loved in a community we loved, still with a mortgage! Eventually we sold that as well, & we live in a town that’s great with some property to boot! A mortgage? Yeppers….Such is life for most.

    So now young folks and working individuals & couples can no longer do this? They need to have their housing built & subsidized by others? Who are these others? Are ya sure they’ve all had it so much better than you? Why can you no longer work your way up?

    IMO, workforce housing is but another P.C. term for low income housing, “forced diversity”, and the U.S. will NEVER have enough no matter how much $ is spent. Too many people are drug addicts & abusers, too many hold degrees that are non-essential, too many expect to live at or above their parent’s standards as soon they hit the ground running (or dragging their feet), and due to our irresponsible & unlawful non-existent border policies, we have tens of millions of foreigners who are equally as addicted & unskilled who expect hand-outs as well.

  2. Government takeover over the private sector is the only reason there is a housing shortage in Vermont in the first place! It’s called Socialism/Communism.

  3. Balderdash – The government pretends affordable housing initiatives that cost millions of taxpayer dollars helps people own homes. The truth is those all ready in homes cannot afford them due to excessive property taxes and expensive utilities. Wages are flat, inflation high, and the taxes keep going higher and higher – there is no relief! The same old song and dance – the marathon chicken dance continues. A State with roughly 660,000 people cannot afford to support a government that wastes and launders nearly all taxes collected.

  4. We moved to VT in 1965. There was a shortage of “affordable” housing then. Millions have been spent to solve the problem. To no avail…..

  5. The shortage of affordable housing comes from Government.

    Gov’t standards, demands, zoning, permits, inspectors

    are all “Perfect or Perish”

    Therefore no affordable housing is welcome here.

    Ultra expensive schools also drive need for huge tax revenue.

  6. Great ! New housing push. Just in time for all the illegals pouring over the southern border. Shoulda cared about the Vermonters who for decades helped build this state. But nooooo … what timing.

  7. Affordable Housing actually is translated as “FREE HOUSING”. Those who plead they can’t find work or find a job, just don’t want to find work. Why should other families work a job or even multiple jobs to subsidize those who are not willing to care for themselves and able to work. WHY!

  8. We don’t Need a “Vermont Housing and Conservation Coalition (VHCC) Legislative Week Kick-Off”. What We Need is to dismantle a money-grabbing, scheming, self-serving, dog and pony show of a Marxist government. Our Tax Money is in a never-ending loop of feeding the Marxist Agenda. In return We The People who Pay them our money are used until there is nothing left but to be a Serf in a system of endless Tyranny and Oppression. It’s all a Scam. We all know it’s a Scam. Every single Act, Bill, Legislation, Study or Committee in the Marxist play-book only serves the Politicians, their Masters and their Agenda. It Never serves We The People. Until this is All dismantled by We The People, it will only continue to get worse.

    Liberty is from God not man.

  9. I have been told recently of several professionals, both single and coupled, who had accepted positions here in Vermont, moved here from out of state, searched in vain for housing they could afford (remembering that these folks were in positions requiring higher education and which paid higher than average salaries) and had to give up and return to their previous state because they couldn’t find affordable housing. this is a real thing. Stories such as “I’ve done it”, written by those who began in an earlier generation show many who are out of touch with the realities of the present economy. Wages have remained stagnant across the board (except for CEOs of large corporations) while the cost of living continues to go up. The average person cannot keep up. And now with the real estate market being what it is, with competition for homes causing the prices to skyrocket because of bidding wars for every home, and rental costs being nonsensically high (please, don’t tell me this is “market driven”; much of the rental costs are simply “because they can” type pricing), folks moving here and young people trying to make a start just can’t. This is a different economy than those of us who are now coming into retirement age enjoyed, when it was truly possible to work one, full-time job and have the time and resources to enjoy life. Those days are long gone. This isn’t about “free” anything; this is about introducing some sanity into the Vermont landscape so people can actually afford to live here, people who are working, contributing, just like everyone else. A 1200 sq. ft. ranch-style house with a third of an acre should NEVER command $400k. Time to stop the madness. And if we don’t have reasonable housing available (this includes Burlington, which is a traditionally bad market for renters, and the homes are priced out of reach now) we will not be able to attract people to this state. Taxpayers lost.

  10. When dollars become worthless, housing prices are only numbers. Gov. Scott and legislators are commanding you to accept that the new middle class will work for 30K a year and be satisfied with the government gulags they are putting you into while their lifestyles never get impacted far away from the communities they destroy.

Leave a Reply