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 Housing Commission met on November 23rd, where members 1) reviewed housing stability information in Winooski and 2) heard from several landlords about their experience with tenants not paying rent in the community.
The Commission reviewed another round of summaries about how the pandemic is affecting housing stability in the City and the state. With the continued effects of unemployment support, housing stabilization funds, and halts to evictions and foreclosures at the state and federal level, housing remains relatively stable for those already housed. Across Vermont, renter non-payment has dropped since July, but confidence in the ability to pay rent in the future has declined slightly in recent weeks. Mortgage payers in the state are reporting increasing non-payment and decreasing confidence, but in small margins. One area of growing concern is those experiencing homelessness, as affordable housing is not becoming available to that group. The Commission will be bringing this tracking and investigation of COVID-19 impacts to the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission’s Convening of Housing Commissions on November 30th. Finally, Commission members will be outlining key needs for research on housing challenges and policy responses at this unique time for next month’s meeting. The City will continue to monitor these trends, with the next update expected at the February meeting.
In addition to this tracking of state and labor data, several landlords representing a large number of rentals in the community shared their experience with tenants not paying rent. the general consensus being that the combination of federal funding for housing, enhanced unemployment benefits and economic stimulus has prevented any noticeable uptick in people not paying their rent. The sense is that Vermont’s approach is working in Winooski, tenants can afford their rent, and securing continued funds to keep these programs going should continue to hold off any major challenges in ability to pay for existing housing in Winooski.
A final reminder that if you are having trouble paying your rent or utilities, there are still some supports available, but they currently expire in mid-December:
The Housing Commission meets on the 4th Monday each month and meetings are open to the public. The next meeting will take place on December 28th at 6 PM.
Please get in touch if you have any input or questions on the work of the Commission – Jim Duncan, email@example.com. To learn more about the Housing Commission and how to get involved, please visit https://www.winooskivt.gov/233/Housing-Commission.