Senate Update: Housing & Homelessness

Past event
Feb 16, 2023, 5 PM

Dear Neighbors,

Extreme cold weather events like the one this past weekend often remind us that there are those who lack the benefit of secure housing, even in winter. Vermont is no exception to this, as we are in the midst of an unprecedented housing crisis compounded by the pandemic and disinvestment in rural communities.

A recent article from The Guardian has put us on the map in this regard in an article entitled: "As homelessness crisis deepens, rural children pay the price." Thankfully, the piece highlights that, with our crisis has come a compassionate response. Vermont currently has the second-highest per capita rate of homelessness in the nation, and our rate of increase in homelessness over the last two years was the highest in the nation.

At the same time, the article points out, "the Green Mountain state provides temporary shelter to a higher share of its unhoused residents than any other state, with 98% safely indoors on a point-in-time count from last year." This was a careful policy choice made by the Democratic Legislature to fight a premature end to the emergency assistance programs over the course of the last year, with one final extension proposed in our Budget Adjustment Act to continue the program through June.

At issue has always been where and how to transition homeless Vermonters to safe, sustainable housing options. And it's not for lack of trying on anyone's part - the average length of homelessness for Vermonters before the pandemic was 50 days. Now, three years later, it's 270 days. That is why our Budget Adjustment also recommends $50 million for the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board to build and restore housing as fast as we can get the dollars deployed, so there are more options available when people begin exiting motels and temporary shelters.

Getting the dollars deployed quickly also means removing regulatory hurdles to congregate, supportive, transitional, and multi-family housing, so the money we deploy is not being spent on lawsuits and delays, and is instead housing Vermonters in need. That is why my committee is taking the lead on significant changes to our housing regulations, in addition to provisions that uphold Fair Housing and smart growth development patterns.

If you would like to be heard on this matter, the Senate Economic Development, Housing & General Affairs Committee and the House Committee on General & Housing will hold a joint public hearing on Thursday, February 16 at 5:00 p.m. The committees will hear testimony concerning the state of housing in Vermont in Room 267 of the Pavilion Building at 109 State Street in Montpelier.

Participants may attend in-person or by video conference (Zoom). Anyone interested in testifying should sign up in advance of the hearing through the following online form not later than noon on February 15:

When registering, prospective witnesses will be asked to select a topic category. Instructions on how to access and participate in the hearing will be sent following sign-up. Please note that testimony time may be limited to approximately three minutes per person.

Written testimony is encouraged and can be submitted electronically through e-mail at or mailed to the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs, c/o Scott Moore, 133 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05633.

All the best,


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