For decades, we’ve known and talked about the fact that homes in the Upper Valley are too few and too expensive for people’s needs. The pandemic has worsened the problem. A recent VPR report cited research finding Vermont to have the least affordable housing market of any state in the country, and a WMUR report found New Hampshire to have experienced a 23% increase in the median sales price of single-family homes has risen nearly since January 2020. More and more people are experiencing homelessness, living in unsafe homes, paying too much of their income for their housing, or are forced to settle far from jobs and services.
What can be done, by whom, to address this? Answering that multi-pronged question is the focus of the Vital Communities Housing Solutions Breakfast, Friday, June 11, 7:30 to 9 am, on Zoom! At the breakfast, you will:
- Join residents, employers, officials, and other leaders
- Highlight solutions in progress around us.
- Learn about Keystothevalley.com, an integrated framework of dozens of strategies and tools to help us meet this regional challenge.
Keys to the Valley is a joint project of three planning commissions with a framework for integrated action by all stakeholders. It includes goals and the tools to achieve them for residents, towns, legislators, non-profits, employers, and developers, woven together to meet individual and shared needs for home and community. The approach is not limited to a particular geography, town size, or politics, and can work all around our state, and for our neighbors.
Projects and presenters:
- ADU partnership, Tyler Maas, VT State Housing Authority, and Mike Miller, Montpelier: Accessory Dwelling Units are a great way for residents to create more places to live. This pilot project provides help with pre-construction design and securing of finances, permitting and compliance, contractor procurement and project management, and finally, tenant selection and lease up procedures.
- Homeshare, Deanna Jones, Thompson Senior Center, Woodstock, VT: Homesharing is two or more unrelated persons sharing a home. It can be that simple, and it can meet a lot of our individual needs.
- Mixed-Use Zoning, Lori Hirshfield and Matt Osborn, Hartford, VT: Mixed-use will allow one- and two-family homes, commercial businesses and multi-unit homes in places that have been limited to parking and stores.
- Capital for Affordability, Kathy Beyer, Evernorth: Our region has places with the water, sewer, and transportation for multi-unit buildings. With some additional “patient” capital from employers, builders are able to create places affordable to employees with lower incomes.
- Rental Rehabilitation, Paul Martorano, Windham and Windsor Housing Trust: The Re-Housing Recovery Program offered grants up to $30,000 per unit for repairs needed to bring vacant rental units up to Vermont Rental Housing Health Code guidelines. More than 60 units were added in our communities in just a few months.
Register here; we will send a Zoom link to registrants a few weeks in advance. Please bring your own refreshments to this virtual “breakfast.” We look forward to the time when we can enjoy the smell of bacon together again!
More About Keys to the Valley
The Keys to the Valley homepage offers brief takeaways, from which you can dive deeply into particular strategies for home creation. The site’s toolbox predigests some of the site and gives you links, depending on who you are. One of our favorite parts is the buildout, where we try to show what some context-sensitive infill looks like, as in Chester, VT (below).