(Due to an editing error, this story has been updated.)
The Warren Select Board discussed a housing trust proposal to support building more affordable housing in the Mad River Valley by assessing fees on short-term rentals among other things.
At a July 13 meeting, the board discussed a Mad River Valley Housing Coalition proposal, which would require a $235 annual fee for short-term rentals, such as Airbnb and VRBO hosts (month-to-month rentals do not qualify as short-term rentals). That fee is estimated to raise approximately $72,000 annually. Though support for the annual fee was unanimous, some members of the select board said they would rather see funding for affordable housing tied to income. Some worried the proposal wasn’t bold enough to move the needle on housing. The proposal also calls for raising property taxes in Warren, Waitsfield and Fayston by 1 cent, raising approximately $150,000 annually. The proposal would need to be approved by voters in all three towns. Town Meeting Day in March 2022 would be the earliest it would be put to vote.
ADDITIONAL FUNDING NEEDED
The select board agreed that additional private funding would be needed in order to build more affordable housing. Select board member Bob Ackland cited Barre’s Downstreet Housing and Community Development as a “perfect example” of an organization that receives both federal subsidies and operational community support to provide workforce housing.
“For the Mad River Valley community to thrive, steps need to be taken” to make housing more affordable, Bob Ackland said at Tuesday night’s meeting. The goal, Ackland said, was to increase the number of year-round rental units in The Valley and increase housing for income-eligible full-time residents at or below fair market price. Ackland said, “The hope is that we’d be able to attract a developer to build” affordable housing units. The select board discussed Waitsfield as the best potential location for more rental units in The Valley. Ackland reported that the Mad River Valley Housing Coalition has spoken with housing trusts in Montpelier and Burlington and feels that this is a step in the right direction of increasing housing for local workers. (Ackland is also a member of the Mad River Valley Housing Coalition.) An affordable housing trust’s funding priorities would include home ownership, down payments for low-income households, financial assistance for low-income renters and project-based gap funding for housing development or rehabilitation.
The housing coalition proposal and trust would fund an account managed by an advisory committee including members from Waitsfield, Fayston and Warren, in addition to three representatives from the Mad River Valley Housing Coalition or other affordable housing nonprofits. Though representatives from Moretown were asked to participate, they declined.
Other topics discussed at the July 13 Warren Select Board meeting included the issue of a local resident’s dog roaming West Hill and South Hollow Road. While no action was taken, the board recommended the owner use a fence or otherwise contain the dog.