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City of Winooski News Updates

Posted on: January 10, 2022

Housing Liaison Update - 1.10.22

Housing Liaison

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 27th to continue discussions about housing quality in the City, the role of code enforcement, and how state and city regulations intersect. The Commission was joined by Fire Chief John Audy and Fire Marshal Bruce Palmer, and they walked through a lot of details about the inspection process.

Commissioners, members of the public, and City staff discussed a range of challenges in running a full inspection program for rentals. Code Enforcement, which conducts the inspections, shares staff with other departments, and thus has to run lean and is often at capacity and can’t take on additional work. Meanwhile, the continued growth in the number of rental units and other new public buildings in the City has increased demand for inspections. Furthermore, some residents are not able to access resources through partner organizations, and the City may not always be able to fill in the gaps. The City’s options for enforcement include ticket-writing and withholding certificates of occupancy, but these can have unintended consequences such as causing tenants to be forced out of their units, and so need to be used carefully. Finally, the Commission heard more about what support residents need in getting problems fixed in their homes and the need for a range of options to seek help.

By having these discussions, Housing Commission is prepared to provide input on upcoming changes to the ordinances and rules that govern inspections and to continue the dialogue about what residents in the City need in terms of housing support. The draft minutes available at https://www.winooskivt.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Minutes/_12272021-896 provide a lot of excellent additional information about this topic.

The Housing Commission normally meets on the 4th Monday each month, however, due to scheduling issues, the next meeting will take place on Thursday, January 20th at 6 PM. Meetings are open to the public – please join us to share your views and ideas on housing in the City!

Get in touch if you have any input or questions on the work of the Commission – Jim Duncan, jduncan@winooskivt.gov.

To learn more about the Housing Commission and how to get involved, please visit https://www.winooskivt.gov/233/Housing-Commission.

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