On May 3, 2019, I attended the Spring 2019 Business Leaders Housing Breakfast sponsored jointly by Vital Communities and Twin Pines Housing. Twice a year, these groups bring together a group of speakers to address questions about housing. I have included links to the three presentations. Here are my takeaways:
Kevin Dailey of Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC) described how potential employees have trouble finding housing close to the hospital and consequently endure a long commute. SVHC established a program to acquire abandoned homes that are not economically viable as a commercial renovation. They then upgrade the homes so that there will be no major expense for 10 years, then pay the closing costs for an employee to purchase. They expect to spend about $25,000 per home. They have done four homes so far.
Jill Davies spoke about how Woodstock Community Trust established a program to help moderate income people live in Woodstock, Vermont. They point out the need by asking these questions:
- Who’s saving your life?
- Who’s teaching your kids?
- Who’s cooking your food?
- Can they live in your community?
- A buydown program, where the initiative puts up the down-payment, mortgage insurance, closing costs, to help a person who can afford the monthly payments, but doesn’t have the cash for up-front costs
- They make structural repairs and fix major appliances, to avoid big bills in the first three years
- They consider the Upper Valley to have 69 towns, about 187,000 population, and 87,000 jobs.
- Affordable housing is a core component of community health. If housing isn’t readily available, the community is suffers.
- Rental property across the Upper Valley have less than 3% vacancy (very low), this is down about 10% from a year ago.
- The commute to jobs has not changed much in the last year, but remains high at about 45 minutes.
- Number of home sales has remained roughly constant over the last year, but inventory has changed:
- Homes below $300K: inventory is strongly down – hardly any are available
- Homes between $300K and $600K: down, less available
- Homes above $600K: about the same, or slightly higher inventory