Legislation

Plenty of shekels and shackles in new state housing laws

By Guy Page

There’s an old saying that “there are no government shekels without government shackles.” There are plenty of both in two housing bills to be signed by Gov. Phil Scott tomorrow in Randolph. 

Scott will sign into law S210 and S226 on Tuesday, which together allocate over $45 million to “bolster Vermont’s housing stock,” according to a press statement from the governor’s office. 

The two bills seek to address Vermont’s acute housing shortage with two popular tools of Vermont state government: shekels and shackles. Shekels are an Old Testament form of money. “Government shackles” is to most self-explanatory and to some redundant. 

Scott will be joined by legislative leaders and community partners at noon, June 7 at Salisbury Square in Randolph. Following remarks and the bill signings, the Governor will be available for questions from the media.

S226 (sponsored by Sen. Kesha Ram-Hinsdale), allocates:

  • $1 million for administration and “outreach” to help racial justice organizations inform communities of Vermonters who have historically suffered housing discrimination about down payment assistance and tax credits.
  • $4 million to spruce up mobile home parks and units.
  • $1 million for a Housing Equity Council in a selected community to develop a pilot “inclusive, smart growth” neighborhood that is “compact and human-scaled, with a density of at least eight leased or purchased dwelling units per acre, including modestly sized dwellings on small lots.”
  • $15 million for ‘missing middle-income home ownership development,’ to be dispensed to under tightly controlled conditions including project location, size of home, and energy-efficiency. 
  • $200,000 to create a Land Access and Opportunity Board comprised mostly of BIPOC representatives paid per diem to improve access to woodlands, farmland, and land and home ownership for Vermonters from historically marginalized or disadvantaged communities who continue to face barriers to land and home ownership.
  • $650,000 to help municipalities modernize bylaws. 
  • Funding for a plethora of consultants and reports on various development-related issues. 

And speaking of shackles…..

S226 also requires all contractors to “register with the Office of Professional Regulation prior to contracting with a homeowner to perform residential construction in exchange for consideration of more than $10,000, including labor and materials.” The contractors will need a contract in writing, may collect no more than 50% down payment, and must have at least $1 million of insurance. S226 also creates a “voluntary” contractor certification system.

Most of the shekels for the housing spending in S210 and S226 will come from the federal government. However, the paychecks for the bureaucrats and lawyers hired to monitor and enforce the contractor registration and certification will be paid for by contractors’ fees created for this purpose by the law.  

The bill also declares that landlord harassment (broadly defined) based on “race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, marital status, religious creed, color, national origin, or disability, or because the person intends to occupy a dwelling with one or more minor children, or because the person is a recipient of public assistance, or because the person is a victim of abuse, sexual assault, or stalking…. need not be severe or pervasive to be unlawful.”

S210 allocates $20 million for the State to upgrade health and safety of rental units, with 20% of that funding going to a statewide “education and navigation” system, presumably connecting the money to its end users. 

S210 also puts the Vermont Department of Public Safety – the department generally associated with the Vermont State Police and other law enforcement – firmly in charge of writing, implementing, and enforcing new rental health and safety regs. The days of municipalities having the final say in rental oversight are over. 

S210 does not mention the creation of a statewide rental registry, which during discussion of the bill was a matter of great concern to property owners. They were worried that the registry would be the conduit for a slew of new regulations. But the term does not appear in S210 – until the closing section of the lengthy bill, in which one oblique reference to “rental housing registration” is made but not explained. 

Categories: Legislation

8 replies »

  1. I can’t imagine anyone…outside of government/large operators.. offering up any rentals in this state with this information/legalese…and I too am leaving…

  2. If the DEAGLE [Pentagon] population projections for the U.S. are correct…..in a year or two
    VERMONT WILL HAVE NO SHORTAGE—–NO SHORTAGE—–of housing at all, for anyone.

    Don’t know about the DEAGLE very sharp declines in U.S. population PROJECTIONS?

    Better get Googling, folks. WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW IS TRULY ASTOUNDING.

    –D. Morrissseau W Pawlet, VT

  3. In my estimation, the $45 million to be spent by S210 and S226 are actually reparations to be paid to specific persons in specific ethnic groups disguised as legitimate legislative expenditures.
    Basically money wasted on ‘woke’ projects that will benefit only only a few…

  4. Vermont is a failed State…many don’t realize it yet, but they will. What is happening here is happening across the nation. The dominos are shaking and about to fall. Great suffering is coming and those who are on God’s side will be protected and prevail. No matter what type of harm Lucifer’s children are projecting upon the People, will boomerang in glorious fashion right back onto them. Fear not! The faithful must rise, declare, and rebuke the evil that is all around us. The gates of Hell will not prevail.

  5. MNDATES PERMITS CONDITIONS FEES, DELAYS SPECIFICATIONS PAPERWORK
    OVERSEERS,
    NOW, THEY WANT 8 UNITS PER ACRE – REDICULOUS – BARRACKS, NOT HOMES

    THERE IS NO CHANCE OF TRULY AFFORDABLE HOUSING NEW IN VERMONT

    fOR US OLDSTERS, THE HOMES WE GREW UP IN ARE NOW IMPOSSIBLE

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