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 April 26th, where members primarily discussed how to spur the creation of rental units with three or more bedrooms in the City. Having spent time during last month’s meeting examining the relative impact of different incentives on a housing development project and its costs, the Commission focused in this meeting on parking and density bonuses (allowing additional stories), as these two have much larger impacts than other tools available. The Commission opted to work on parking and making an updated recommendation to the Planning Commission about how to design a possible incentive that would trade a reduced parking requirement for a development that supports Winooski Master Plan housing goals. Looking at the housing that is being built in the City, the gaps are in units affordable to middle-income renters (80% to 120% of area median income) and in units with 2 or more bedrooms.
After much discussion, the Commission approved a recommendation for a very focused parking incentive. This incentive would offer a reduced minimum required parking level for projects that have rentals with three or more bedrooms, provided that these units will be affordable to those making 100% or less of area median income. For reference, the area median income for a household of four in our region is $89,700. This recommendation will be forwarded to the Planning Commission, which is the body that makes decisions about parking minimums, and Housing Commission members will attend to explain the recommendation and its potential to meet Winooski’s Master Plan housing goals.
In addition to this item, the Commission discussed a vacancy on the commission and the appointment process, reviewed housing stability data finding no troubling signs due to the pandemic, received an update on the Housing Trust Fund policies that will soon be finalized and voted on by City Council, and discussed options to expand outreach about the Burlington Lead Program, which helps reduce the hazards of lead paint exposure in Burlington and Winooski homes.
The Housing Commission meets on the 4th Monday each month and meetings are open to the public. The next meeting will take place on May 24th at 6 PM.
Click here to learn more about the Housing Commission and how to get involved.
Please get in touch if you have any input or questions on the work of the Commission – Jim Duncan, email@example.com.