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Burlington mayor announces housing action plan

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger announces housing action plan
Pat Bradley
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger announces housing action plan

Burlington, Vermont’s mayor announced a 10-point plan this morning that is intended to increase affordable housing and eliminate homelessness in the city.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger released what he calls an “Action Plan to Fulfill the Promise of Housing as a Human Right in Burlington.” The Democratic mayor said the plan is based on two goals: doubling housing production and ending chronic homelessness in the city within three years.

"All the initiatives in that ten-point plan are aimed at delivering on these two big goals. You can see that a number of them involve the investment of millions of dollars of ARPA funds and local housing trust funds into an effort to quickly leverage tens of millions of additional dollars, state, local and private dollars, into the creation of 1,250 new homes over the next five years in Burlington with 25 percent of that, a quarter of them 312 of them permanently affordable and a quarter of that total, 78 new homes, dedicated to housing the formerly homeless."

The city will propose zoning changes that will allow building of homes in enterprise districts and at underutilized properties. City Planning Director Meagan Tuttle said the zoning changes build on efforts that have been occurring for over six years.

"The additional zoning changes that are being announced today will help us to bring focus to parts of our community where we’ve previously had limited opportunities to create new homes. The other zoning reforms in this action plan will also help us address many of our interrelated goals and challenges as a city such as providing more affordable housing choices, advancing racial equity in housing, expanding economic opportunity and increasing the community’s resiliency to the climate emergency. These zoning changes will provide an important foundation and they are a complement to the immediate expansion of capacity and investment of financial resources that the city and many local partners are making."

Vermont Department for Children and Families Commissioner Sean Brown says the city and state have been implementing a number of initiatives especially as the pandemic exposed the complexity of the challenges facing households in crisis.

"We really do have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with the federal resources flowing into the state to really make a difference in ending homelessness. Just yesterday the governor announced he is signing onto the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s House America Initiative. This initiative has encouraged state, county, and municipal and tribal nation leaders to commit to using federal ARPA funding to address the crisis of homelessness by rehousing and building additional housing. And it’s clear from the mayor’s plan and announcement today that he is committed to this initiative as well. You know with everyone’s work we can end homelessness and when it does occur to make sure it’s rare, brief and non-reoccurring for those households."

Burlington’s plan includes using American Rescue Plan Act funds of $4 million to build new affordable housing and $1 million for initiatives to help the chronically homeless. A Special Assistant to End Homeless position will be created in the Community and Economic Development Office. Several zoning reforms and a new low barrier facility and shelter pods are proposed in the plan.

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