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 December 28th, where members 1) reviewed their biggest concerns in housing affordability and access and 2) began a discussion about how Winooski compares to the surrounding area in providing family-sized housing.
The Commission has continued to review anecdotal information and data about whether the pandemic is impacting housing stability in the City. Since November, members compiled their biggest concerns about housing and what might be done to address it. Some of these are larger systemic issues, such as housing quality, barriers to accessing certain types and sizes of rental housing, and barriers to homeownership. Looking at the immediate future and responding to the pandemic, it will be important to focus on playing an educational role to make sure Winooski landlords and tenants can take advantage of the next round of rental assistance funding. More work will be done on assessing any relevant policy or programs in the coming months.
In the second half of the meeting, Commissioners looked at how Winooski rentals compare to other towns in terms of the number of bedrooms being provided. Winooski has a much larger proportion of 0- and 1-bedroom rentals, and fewer 2- or 3-bedroom rentals that are better suited for families. Based on this, the data shows what people have been hearing from residents – it is harder to find housing suitable for families in Winooski. Based on this, the Commission will discuss how to design goals or targets for family-sized rental housing, and what incentives are needed to make these a reality in new development in the City. Additional information and options will be reviewed in the coming months.
The Housing Commission meets on the 4th Monday each month and meetings are open to the public. The next meeting will take place on January 25th 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, click here.