Governor Scott signs historic housing bills into law

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Governor Scott signs historic housing bills into law

Tue, 06/07/2022 - 2:27pm -- tim

Governor Scott signs the housing bills into law at a ceremony in Randolph on Tuesday. Courtesy photo.

S.226 and S.210 Dedicate More Than $45 Million to Address Vermont’s Housing Shortage. State Has Committed $250+ Million to Housing Over the Last Two Years

Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott gathered with members of the Legislature and local housing partners at the Salisbury Square, a planned affordable housing neighborhood, in Randolph today to sign two historic housing bills. The bills, S.226 and S.210, dedicate substantial state investments to bolster Vermont’s housing stock.

“Investing in housing has been a top priority of my Administration since day one, and these bills take significant steps forward to bolster Vermont’s housing stock,” said Governor Scott. “I want to thank the many people who were involved in passing these bills, from those in the Legislature, my teams across the Administration, community partners, as well as our Congressional Delegation for their work securing much of this funding. Today’s action is a great example of how people of different parties can agree on a fundamental problem, put differences aside, and work together to find solutions that will benefit our state for decades to come.”

The two bills are funded with both state funds and federal American Rescue Plan Act funds and will deliver more than $45 million to housing programs. These funds add to the $200 million allocated last fiscal year and in the Budget Adjustment Act, as part of the Governor’s $250 million housing package.

The bills will provide additional funding for downtown and neighborhood revitalization and reforms to Act 250, all of which will pave the way to more housing of all types across the state.

S.210 includes:

  • $20M Vermont Housing Improvement Program (VHIP) providing property owners with grants or forgivable loans of up to $50,000 to rehabilitate rental units that are out of compliance with applicable building, housing, and health laws and once rehabilitated, to rent the units at affordable rates, making more rental units available.

S.226 includes:

  • $15M Missing Middle Income Home Ownership Development Program providing incentives and support to developers to build modest homes to be sold at prices affordable to middle-income Vermonters.

  • $4M Manufactured Home Replacement and Park Improvement Program to allow manufactured home communities investment in improvements and continue to provide an affordable, safe housing options for thousands of Vermonters.

  • $2.45M Downtown and Village Center Tax Credit Expansion to expand the tax credit benefit to neighborhood development areas, creating new housing opportunities and a new flood mitigation credit to help offset the costs of making vulnerable buildings flood-ready.

  • $1M First-Generation Homebuyer Program is intended to support households historically sidelined from home ownership and the opportunities it provides to build wealth through down payment grants.

  • $1M Neighborhood Development Partnership will bring representatives from the Department of Housing and Community Development the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB), the Agency of Natural Resources Vermont Department of Public Service, Vermont Agency of Transportation , Regional Development Corporations, VHFA, Regional Planning Commissions, and other stakeholders to pilot a model partnership to develop and re-develop new neighborhood infrastructure and build needed homes.

  • Act 250 reforms to include increasing the unit cap for a priority housing project to qualify for Act 250 exemption from 24 to 49 dwelling units, for small municipalities with populations less than 6,000. The legislation also simplifies qualification as a priority housing project on lands subject to Act 250 permit by eliminating the requirement for a permit amendment.

“People often ask how we will solve the housing crisis in Vermont and there is no simple answer to that question,” said Commissioner of Housing and Community Development Commissioner Josh Hanford. “The recipe requires a comprehensive, coordinated and strategic approach addressing the problem from multiple angles. These two housing bills tackle the key areas we can address now to create more housing of all types and makes regulatory progress to allow more housing to be built in the future.”

“There is no one entity or organization that can address this statewide crisis alone,” said Governor Scott. “We are grateful to our housing partners who will be crucial in our ongoing work to address this issue head on. We hope these new programs signed into law today will deepen and strengthen our partnership in the years ahead.”

More program details, requirements, applications, and information are expected in the coming months.

Vermont Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint issued the following statement on the signing of S.226 and S.210 into law. The bills promote safe, affordable housing from rental units to single-family homes in an effort to address Vermont’s housing crisis, she said.

“From the start of the session, the Governor, the Speaker, and I have been unified in our belief that addressing Vermont’s housing crisis must be the first priority of this legislative session. We all understand the devastating impact the housing shortage is having on families, businesses, and communities across the state, and throughout the ups and downs of the legislative session, we never lost sight of that shared goal.

"Today, the Legislature and the Administration come together to celebrate both historic housing investments and the critical policy changes needed to turn the tide on the housing crisis that has been decades in the making here in Vermont. I’m proud of the work we’ve done to meet housing needs at every level, from affordable housing to middle-income home ownership, and that includes critical updates to rental units and manufactured homes. We’ve also updated policy to make it easier to build housing where we want it, in our downtowns and village centers, and to better ensure that no Vermonter lives in substandard housing.

"I’m grateful to outgoing Chair of Senate Economic Development Michael Sirotkin for championing these bills and ensuring key provisions made their way into law, and to all my colleagues on Economic Development, Vice Chair and Majority Leader Alison Clarkson, Sen. Kesha Ram, and Minority Leader Randy Brock, for all the hard work they did to address our housing crisis this session.”

6.7.2022. Montpelier