Can’t Afford A Home in Burlington? Blame Landlords, Realtors, and Homeowners

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Burlington is an expensive place to live. With a limited supply of single and two family homes, whether they be condos, mobile homes, or standalone single-family housing, it’s tough for Burlington’s low-income renters to afford stable housing. In fact, 25% of all homes in the city are rented out as investment properties. Blame this on landlords, realtors, and homeowners.

With over 2100 units of housing (13% of all housing in the city) and 6700 beds (17% of all beds in the city) being rented out by investors, rented on Airbnb, or owned as a second home, there are few if any affordable homes left for people to buy. Without housing protections and limits, without zoning changes in wealthy low-residential areas, without a real public investment in long-term low-income housing, too many of these homes are easily converted into investment properties, selling for prices that are out of reach for most families and middle-income workers. This benefits some folks, mainly realtors, homeowners, and landlords, while the majority of us suffer with few options.

It’s interesting to see where and how much of different types of housing have been turned into rentals. Single family homes are rented throughout the city, but are most clustered around UVM, legally allowed through grandfather clauses, rented out to college students often in unofficial frats and sororities. Most two family homes, historically a way for poorer families to afford housing, are rented out in the Old North End. Condos tend to be spread out around city edges, not as much dispersed in communities but built in stark, repetitive and ugly, giant condo developments that are removed from actual neighborhoods. Expect ‘Cambrian Rise’ to offer much of the same.

The toughest part about staying in Burlington as a low-income renter and community mental health worker is that most new developments are rentals, and even new condos will be expensive, in ugly condo complexes, and many will likely be bought as investment properties, making it harder and harder for low and moderate-income residents to exist, never mind thrive, in Burlington.

2 thoughts on “Can’t Afford A Home in Burlington? Blame Landlords, Realtors, and Homeowners”

  1. What impact does income sensitivity (sliding scale property taxes) have on turnover of family homes? I know several elderly people staying in homes that are much bigger than they need, and that they really can’t afford, because their property taxes are artificially low.

    1. While doing research I came across some million dollar homes that were assessed at less than 60% of their recent sale value, which is crazy because unless the building has significant changes made, that is now it’s market value. I’m guessing that what both of these issues do is put more of a burden on low-income renters, since large rental units are taxed at higher rates, although I’m sympathetic to low-income elderly homeowners who certainly couldn’t afford most of the senior housing in the city, even if they wanted to downsize. But I haven’t done the research yet to confirm my suspicions.

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