Annual Report on Vermont Housing Shows Same Problems Exist

Each year, the Vermont Housing and Finance Association (VHFA) publishes a report “Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Housing and Wages in Vermont,” as part of an annual series that tracks housing costs in relation to Vermonters’ incomes. For the last several years, Vermont’s tight housing markets have helped keep prices up while wages, particularly in Vermont’s biggest job categories, have not kept pace. Now, as the recession piles up lost jobs and incomes, the situation has grown more complex and more difficult to

“We are all going to be called upon to work harder and more creatively, and probably with fewer resources,” said Sarah Carpenter, Executive Director of Vermont Housing Finance Agency. “Vermonters need housing they can afford as much as ever, and we need the kind of economic stimulus housing development can provide.” Carpenter noted that both private and public resources for housing investment are becoming
harder to obtain, and, despite low interest rates, tighter credit and higher financial requirements are making it more difficult for many consumers to qualify for a mortgage.

Among the report’s findings:
• The median purchase price of a home in Vermont has remained stable in the last year, at $200,000.
• A Vermont household would need an annual income of $63,000, as well as $14,000 for a downpayment and closing costs, to afford that home.
• The median household income in Vermont is just under $52,000, enough to afford a $163,000 home.
• The Fair Market Rent for a modest two-bedroom home is more than $900 a month, and more than half of Vermont’s workforce earns less than the $36,550 needed to afford that rent.
• Vermont’s rental housing market is the tightest in the nation, and its homeownership market is the fourth-tightest.

All this leaves many Vermonters scrambling to keep a roof over their heads.

Erhard Mahnke, coordinator of the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, said there is a glimmer of hope coming from Washington, D.C., in terms of more funding for housing, homelessness prevention, community development, rental assistance, and other programs. “After years of neglect, there are signs change is on the way,” Mahnke said. “New federal spending will bring more than $40 million in additional housing and community development dollars to Vermont over the next two years. Last year saw passage of significant new housing legislation, including creation of the National Housing Trust Fund, the first new housing
development program since the early 1990’s. This will allow us to play some measure of catchup, but to make real headway, we need to maintain funding for homegrown solutions like the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.”

Copies of the new report are available online at the VHFA website,; the
Affordable Housing Coalition website,; the Vermont Housing
Awareness Campaign website,; and the Vermont Housing and
Conservation Board site,

Original Source: VHFA News Release, 4/28/09

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