By Councilor Aurora Hurd and Deputy Mayor Jim Duncan
Hello neighbors, the following is an update from the joint Housing and Safe Healthy Connected People (SHCP) Commission meeting. As you know, Deputy Mayor Jim Duncan is the City Council Liaison to the Housing Commission, and I’m excited to have accepted the role as City Council Liaison to the SHCP Commission.
On April 12th, the SHCP and Housing Commissions met for a housing overview and to discuss the potential of a Winooski Housing Summit. Because issues around housing overlap with the goals of the SHCP, this overview sought to bring the SHCP up to date with the housing portion of the City Master Plan and recent work on housing policy. You can view the Housing section of the Master Plan here or find the full document here.
This overview examined how Winooski is unique in a lot of ways compared to other nearby communities. Winooski has the highest percentage of rentals and the majority of new construction in the past several years have been additional rental units. Winooski also has an older overall age of its housing stock. Due to fears of gentrification, Winooski has been reviewing this issue regularly. When compared to national standards Winooski isn’t gentrifying, but the lived experience of residents is different. The rising costs of purchasing a home and the rising cost of rent have made it harder for both renters and homeowners. The Housing Trust Fund that has been under development by the Housing Commission was created with the goals to create more affordable housing, expand homeownership opportunities in the City, and provide funds for maintenance and improvement of our housing stock.
Following this overview, Equity Director Yasamin Gordon presented the idea of holding a Winooski Housing Summit. This would be similar to a summit that Burlington held in 2019. It would use feedback from the nearly complete Equity Audit to help guide some of the discussion. You can view the draft Equity Audit here. The goal would be to create an action plan for addressing housing needs in Winooski by involving all stakeholders: homeowners, renters, landlords, local organizations, and other interested members of the Winooski community. The Commissions will be continuing to discuss and plan for this summit.
Finally, the Commissions received an update on the open survey about how to utilize American Rescue Plan Act funds. Targeted in-person events are coming up, and there is still time to share your views on how Winooski should spend this money. Please take a moment to fill out the survey at winooskivt.gov/arpasurvey.
All of our commission info and meeting schedules can be found at winooskivt.gov/commissions. Community members are encouraged to engage in these important community discussions! Be sure to sign up for our meeting notices here. Keep an eye out in the coming months for Commission openings – this is an incredible way to serve the community.
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or input:
Councilor Aurora Hurd: email@example.com
Deputy Mayor Jim Duncan: firstname.lastname@example.org