Burlington housing costs above US average

-A A +A

Burlington housing costs above US average

Sun, 12/12/2004 - 8:00pm -- tim

QUEEN CITY HOUSING COSTS 35% HIGHER THAN NATIONAL AVERAGE

Lake Champlain Chamber, VHFA identify housing as a crisis for Vermont's
working families
BURLINGTON - Vermont's Queen City area might be one of the most livable in
America, but it's also an increasingly expensive one, especially for
housing.
New figures from ACCRA, a community and economic development research
association, released today by the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce and
Vermont Housing Finance Agency, show that the cost-of-living in the
Burlington area -- Burlington, Essex, South Burlington, Winooski and
Colchester -- for the third quarter of 2004 was more than 17 percent above
the national average. In the same period in 2003, the area's composite
index was 12.5 percent above the national average.
In the third quarter 2004, Burlington was higher than the national average
in every category, with the greatest deviation from the mean found in the
cost of housing at 134.8%. The city's utilities were at 117.8%;
miscellaneous goods and services at 106.4%; transportation at 109.4%; and
grocery items at 110.4
Chamber President A. Wayne Roberts identified housing as a key component
of
the organization's efforts to attract and retain businesses and their
employees to the area. "High housing costs are a challenge for those
seeking to live and work in Greater Burlington," he said. "For a lot of
people relocating to our region, it means a choice between Burlington at
135% of the national average and Plattsburgh at 93%."
"Clearly, we're still playing catch-up when it comes to providing an
adequate supply of affordable housing, and that's driving up costs," said
VHFA Executive Director Sarah Carpenter. "We know this problem affects
individual Vermonters, their families, our businesses and our economy as a
whole. It boils down to a fundamental issue of costs versus wages.
Vermonters are having trouble finding affordable housing."
According to the ACCRA data, the most expensive two-bedroom apartment in
the
nation is in New York City with an average monthly rent of $3,506. The
least expensive is Hays, Kansas with an average monthly rent of $450.
Burlington's average monthly rent is $1,120. One silver lining in the
ACCRA
report is that the Burlington area's housing costs are still lower than
some
other New England metro areas, such as New Haven, Conn. at 149.3%;
Providence, R.I. at 168.3%; and Boston at 178.5%. Yet the Greater
Burlington area's housing costs rank above cities like Miami, Fla. at
127%;
Hilton Head, S.C., at 110.3%; and Las Vegas, at 130.1%.
The Lake Champlain Chamber has identified housing as an economic
development
priority for the 2005 legislative session, citing it, along with tax
burdens, as a chief business competitiveness issue. VHFA offers
low-interest mortgages for qualified homebuyers and provides funding and
administers state and federal housing tax credits to encourage development
of affordable rental units. Both organizations are members of the Vermont
Housing Awareness Campaign, www.housingawareness.org, a state-wide public
education effort to build support for housing development.
The Lake Champlain Chamber is a participant in the nation-wide
cost-of-living index, compiled by ACCRA. The ACCRA survey examines the
after-tax cost of a professional/managerial standard of living for 324
urban
areas.
The quarterly index is available by subscription. Go online to
www.costofliving.org for additional information. The cost of living data
for the Burlington area was compiled by The Lake Champlain Chamber and
Economic and Policy Resources of Williston. Data are available at
www.vermont.org. Additional housing statistical information is available
at
the Vermont Housing Data Web site, www.housingdata.org.