Senate passes housing bill after much wrangling

Vermont Business Magazine Today the Vermont Senate passed S.100, the Housing Opportunities Made for Everyone (HOME) bill, on a vote of 27-2-1. This bill proposes to increase the supply of affordable housing in the state, promote homeownership and broaden housing opportunities for all Vermonters. The Senate did not make substantial changes to Act 250, despite amendments offered to do so.

“This historic bill will help Vermont address our housing crisis by accelerating smart growth and dense development while protecting what we love best about Vermont’s open spaces and quality of life,” said Senator Ram Hinsdale, chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs and lead sponsor of the bill. “S.100 seeks to build on our housing investments by removing systemic barriers in land use planning and regulation, allowing us to develop more dense, multi-family housing where we have the capacity, existing infill opportunities, and transportation corridors. The balance we have struck is the balance Vermonters are seeking and I am so proud of our work on this landmark legislation.”

“S.100 addresses Vermont’s housing shortage through smart growth strategies that support new housing while also protecting our essential green environment, including farms and forests,” said Senator Bray, chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy. “We have adhered to the ‘Vermont Way,’ which means recognizing that the environment and the economy go hand in hand, and we must maintain this critical balance.”

The HOME bill (S.100) proposes to reduce regulatory barriers in designated growth areas and in areas served by municipal water and sewer to enable the development of more dense, multi-family housing. This bill was intentionally crafted to strike a critical balance between housing development and conservation.

Governor Scott, the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, the Vermont Chamber, and the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, among others, were advocating for amendments in order to loosen some Act 250 requirements, at least in the short term. The Senate put in some changes, but took out the most substantial ones before the final vote.

“Vermont’s housing shortage has exacerbated Vermont’s workforce challenges,” said Senator Clarkson, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs and Senate majority leader. “S.100 is a significant step toward creating more housing opportunities for more Vermonters and building a sustainable economic future for our state.”

“S.100 is a significant step forward in addressing Vermont’s housing crisis,” said Senator Harrison, member of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs and co-reporter of the bill. “Our committee spent countless hours working to fully understand the root causes of the housing crisis and to craft solutions carefully and deliberately. This bill strikes a critical balance of protecting Vermont’s environment and accelerating smart growth development and I’m thrilled to see it pass with such a strong vote.”

“The Senate has been clear that addressing Vermont’s housing shortage is a top priority this session,” said Senator Baruth, president pro tempore of the Senate. “Vermonters have called on us to find solutions that promote smart growth development while protecting Vermont’s natural environment, working landscapes and unique rural character. S.100 achieves this critical balance and I applaud the work of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs and Committee on Natural Resources and Energy for their hard work advancing this bill.”

The bill will now move to the House for further consideration.

You can learn more about S.100 on the legislative website.

3,31,2023. MONTPELIER, VT – Office of the Senate President Pro Tempore