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 August 23rd to approve its final work plan for the year and dive into city-wide opportunities for promoting multi-bedroom unit construction. The City Council priorities for the year ahead can be found at here, and the final approved Housing Commission work plan can be found here.
I am also excited that we have two new members joining the Commission, Stevya Mukuzo and Jack Commo – welcome Stevya and Jack, and thank you for your service to the community!
After approving the work plan, Housing Commission members reviewed data about the redevelopment of property in the City and the net gains or losses in units by bedroom count. Based on permitted or active construction, there is a net gain in all categories of bedroom counts (studios, 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom and 3+ bedrooms), with larger gains in studios and 1-bedroom units. If the trends in construction continue, the gap between smaller bedroom counts and larger bedroom counts will continue to grow.
Housing Commission members also followed up on a discussion from last month’s meeting around city-wide zoning barriers to affordable and multi-bedroom housing construction. In particular, the Commission looked at the current on-the-ground reality in Winooski, where some zoning districts that generally prohibit building multi-unit housing already have a high percentage of multi-unit housing built (called a ‘non-conforming use’). This is particularly true in the R-C zone (view interesting maps here). The Commission is interested in diving into residential zoning to see what options exist for creative use of Winooski’s residential areas for increasing multi-bedroom housing stock. Based on this interest, and the timeline for zoning change considerations with the Planning Commission, the Housing Commission will start working on this soon.
Housing Commission members will be joining the Planning Commission this Thursday, September 9th, to talk about the role parking incentives might play in spurring more multi-bedroom and affordable housing in the City – see the agenda and meeting info here.
The Housing Commission meets on the 4th Monday each month and meetings are open to the public – please join us to share your views and ideas on housing in the City! The next meeting will take place on September 27th at 6 PM. To learn more about the Housing Commission and how to get involved, please visit winooskivt.gov/housing.
Please get in touch if you have any input or questions on the work of the Commission – Jim Duncan, email@example.com.