Weinberger releases plan to fulfill promise of housing as a human right

Burlington's ten-point plan outlines roadmap to double rate of housing production and end chronic homelessness

Vermont Business Magazine Today, Mayor Miro Weinberger released his “Action Plan to Fulfill the Promise of Housing as a Human Right in Burlington,” a 10-point plan that outlines a roadmap to double the rate of housing production and end chronic homelessness in our community. The Action Plan, developed in partnership with the Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO), Office of City Planning, and Office of Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (REIB), begins with the premise that Burlington must redouble its efforts to combat the housing crisis.

“The path to making good on the promise that decent, stable housing is a human right is to build a lot more homes throughout the City and throughout the region,” stated Mayor Weinberger. “This will require community change and understanding from us all.”

The Mayor’s Action Plan will implement 10 specific initiatives, including: investment of at least $5 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds; creation of a new position in CEDO to work on this housing effort; supporting the creation of 1,250 total homes, including 312 permanently affordable homes, by the end of 2026; full funding of the Housing Trust Fund in fiscal year 2023; and more.

The work outlined in the Action Plan already is underway, and Mayor Weinberger also released a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with several partners to create an Enterprise Innovation District in the South End. The new zoning aims to support employees, makers, and local businesses through the creation of new affordable and market-rate homes to support and grow a vibrant creative economy, land conservation, and multi-modal transportation. The signatories of the executed MOU are: CHT, the Vermont Land Trust, HULA, the Davis Company, Champlain College, the Burlington City Arts Foundation, and the South End Arts and Business Association (SEABA).

The following City and community housing advocates delivered remarks during the announcement, sharing their support for the Mayor’s Action Plan:

Paul Dragon, Executive Director, Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO):
“CVOEO is looking forward to working with the City and our partners to deepen our coordinated approach to ending chronic homelessness. The additional resources will support more infrastructure and services and improve our data collection, which will help us understand and better tailor our services to people experiencing homelessness.”

Michael Monte, Chief Executive Officer, Champlain Housing Trust (CHT): “We welcome and applaud the leadership of the Mayor and the City of Burlington in establishing a goal that will significantly increase the supply of new housing and also sets aggressive and achievable goals in creating new affordable housing and in housing the homeless.”

Meagan Tuttle, Director, Office of City Planning: “Together with the other zoning reforms in the Mayor’s Action Plan, identifying opportunities for new homes to fit seamlessly into the scale and pattern of our neighborhoods will also help us address many interrelated goals: providing more affordable housing choices, advancing racial equity in housing, expanding economic opportunity, and increasing our community’s resiliency to the climate emergency. These zoning changes provide an important foundation and complement to the immediate capacity-building initiatives and commitments of funding by the City and many local partners, to ensure that we have a place for more permanent homes for all in the City.”

Many additional stakeholders and community leaders joined the Mayor for today’s announcement and offered further support for the Action Plan:

Will Towne, Co-Chair, Chittenden County Homeless Alliance (CCHA) and Director of Housing & Operations, Spectrum Youth & Family Services: “The CCHA is excited to continue our partnership with the Mayor and City of Burlington in an effort to ensure that homelessness is rare and brief in our community. This investment to address the housing crisis, as well as to bolster some systems, comes at a welcome time. We thank the Mayor and the City of Burlington for their efforts in this area.”

Kim Fitzgerald, Chief Executive Officer, Cathedral Square: “We are pleased that these initiatives recognize the importance of providing on-site, personalized support – not simply housing alone – if we are truly going to address the crisis of homelessness. We at Cathedral Square are committed to continuing this important work in collaboration with our partners and the City of Burlington.”

Hilary Melton, Executive Director, Pathways Vermont: “We welcome Mayor Weinberger's focus on and investment in ending chronic homelessness in Burlington by the end of 2024. Pathways Vermont's ongoing commitment to utilizing Housing First to end homelessness for persons experiencing chronic homelessness will be strengthened with broader recognition that housing is a human right. All of us at Pathways Vermont look forward to building our collective capacity to meet the needs of everyone in our community.”

Charlie Baker, Executive Director, Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission: “The CCRPC is very appreciative of Burlington’s commitment to addressing our housing crisis including the important elements of homelessness, affordable housing, and missing middle housing. We look forward to working with the City, our other member municipalities, and partners in addressing the significant and fundamental need for more housing in Chittenden County and throughout Vermont.”

Kelly Stoddard Poor, Director of Outreach, AARP: “There is a mismatch between the available housing stock and what Burlingtonians want and need. This is partly due to shifting demographics, such as a rapidly aging population and shrinking household sizes, and partly due to the growing demand for walkable, livable neighborhoods. Missing Middle Housing is a critical part of the solution. Housing needs change as we age, but it’s possible for our homes and communities to be livable for people of all ages and life stages by creating a diversity/variety of housing types that meet the needs of the people living in Burlington.”

Source: Burlington, VT Mayor Miro Weinberger 12.16.2021