By Councilor Jim Duncan
I serve as the City Council Liaison to the Housing Commission, which is charged with helping Council and staff "ensure a mix of quality housing that maintains and enhances Winooski’s unique sense of place and supports the needs of the entire community".
The Commission met on January 28th and spent most of its time discussing indicators of gentrification in our City. Gentrification is “the process by which higher-income households displace significant numbers of lower-income residents of a neighborhood, thus changing the essential character and flavor of the neighborhood.” As Winooski grows, City Staff conducts a yearly analysis of various data points on income and housing price data to monitor whether our community is experiencing gentrification, alerting staff, Council and the community to any signs of change.
At the Housing Commission meeting, members reviewed the first draft of the report. Based on the initial findings, the Commission does not see any signs of gentrification that are of immediate concern. Members discussed some of the notable findings, such as income disparities between renters and homeowners and the relatively high rate of change in homeowner median income in Winooski compared to the rest of Chittenden County. Commission members asked the City to investigate additional sources of data and a comparison farther back in time to enrich the initial findings from this monitoring report. You can view the first draft of this report here.
In addition to the gentrification monitoring report, City staff reported on a preliminary analysis of responses to a survey of landlords about what they are charging for rents in the City. With over 70% of landlords responding to the survey, we have a valuable and powerful insight into the affordability of our rental housing in the City. Preliminary analysis shows that Winooski rents are below benchmark ‘market’ rates set by the federal government, but more work will be done before final numbers are reported. You can see the full agenda for this meeting here and view minutes from the November 25th meeting here.
The Housing Commission meets on the 4th Monday each month and meetings are open to the public. The next meeting will take place on Monday, February 24 at 6 PM. Please get in touch if you have any input or questions on the work of the Commission – Jim Duncan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to learn more about the Housing Commission and how to get involved.