Monte, Lane, Winter: Vermont needs housing – and more

by Michael Monte, Stephanie Lane, Andrew Winter The first questions families with young children ask when considering where to live in Vermont are, “Can we find housing we can afford?” and “Does that area have good child care options?”

Too often, the answers to both questions are not good enough and that holds us back.

According to state data, the cost of a primary home increased by 10.2% between 2020 and 2021.

While many may see it as a deviation, it is actually just a slap in the face of an overall market trend: over the past 20 years – through boom and bust cycles, the annual average increase has been a little over 6%.

That sustained appreciation, coupled with deficient housing production, is a major factor in whether families decide to make a future in Vermont, even when jobs appear to be plentiful.

This challenge is before and in the middle. Assassins of all kinds, including business leaders, politicians and local officials, those fighting poverty, and more, are all calling for more housing and exploring new approaches.

While there is more work to be done, recent advocacy is beginning to bear fruit in efforts to rebalance our housing markets and communities will soon see reinforcements when it comes to affordability and housing development.

Over the past two years, Gov. Scott and the Vermont state legislature have invested more than $ 250 million to address Vermont’s critical housing needs. This spending will go a long way toward economic stability for Vermonters, whether they were homeless or trying to buy their first home.

As we develop new housing infrastructure, we must also prioritize other critical support for young families. Otherwise, we will not fully see the benefits of our housing affordability investments.

Like housing, childcare is an economic driver. It is part of the essential infrastructure that enables Vermonters to stay and engage with our communities, earn a living and be part of their neighborhoods, schools and civic organizations.

In terms of childcare capacity and affordability, the pattern and challenges are terribly similar to the challenges in our housing market outlined earlier – simply not enough of them and the options available are too expensive for families.

So what can we do? Similar to housing, we can invest public money in childcare infrastructure that meets the need. This means creating more gaps for babies, toddlers and preschoolers, limiting childcare costs for families and ensuring that our early childhood educators receive fair wages for their professional work.

By taking these steps, the thousands of families with young children seeking to settle will be more affordable in terms of quality of life (including housing), businesses will be able to expand and our economy will grow.

As a state, we can only afford to make smart, purposeful investments that will help our economy. In the housing industry, recent national models show that for every 100 homes we build, we will create 290 jobs and generate $ 1.1 million in taxes and fees. This is what is called a classic “win-win”.

Not so different from housing – investing in childcare is one of the best decisions we can make. Increasing public investment in childcare will not only reduce the cost to families, but it will boost our economy that it so urgently needs.

Research shows that if Vermont were to build a child care system that meets every child and family’s needs for accessibility and affordability, thousands of parents – mostly mothers – could rejoin the workforce, filling and creating jobs, and families could make millions of dollars save. annual; not to mention the early learning and development opportunities it would provide for all of our youngest children.

States across the country view child care as an integral part of their economic future. If Vermont wants to provide its workforce with the most stable support and options, continued development and investment in child care infrastructure will make our state more competitive.

As proponents of affordable housing representing different regions across the state, we encourage all other leaders in this crucial industry to join our Vermont Child Care Campaign and call on our state’s policymakers to invest publicly in our child care system. to prioritize.

Michael Monte is the Chief Executive Officer of Champlain Housing Trust in Burlington, Stephanie Lane is the Executive Director of Shires Housing in Bennington, and Andrew Winter is the Executive Director of Twin Pines Housing Trust in White River Junction.

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