Housing and Gentrification

Burlington Cares More About Tourists and Landlords (AIRBNB) than Renters

It was interesting to see Mayor Weinberger and the city of Burlington argue on the one hand that the only way to solve the housing crises is to increase housing vacancy rates through the housing market, while agreeing on the other hand to legalize and ‘regulate’ (I use the term loosely) Airbnb. If they cared … Continue reading Burlington Cares More About Tourists and Landlords (AIRBNB) than Renters

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A Politician’s Guide on How to Kill Burlington, Vermont

Gentrification and neoliberalism are killing Burlington, turning the city into another Seattle or San Fransisco. Low-income residents and residents of color are being pushed out of the city, high-end services and restaurants are replacing low-income-community-conscious businesses. Wealthy Old North End developers and landlords like Erik Hoekstra (Redstone, Butch and Babes), Jacob Hindsdale, and Bill Bissonnette … Continue reading A Politician’s Guide on How to Kill Burlington, Vermont

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Burlington’s Housing Board of Review is the Closest City Commission to Being a Renters’ Friend

My research shows that the Housing Board of Review ends in a favorable outcome for tenants 77%, and I believe that if the Housing Board of Review tweaked a few of their requirements, put some money into education and outreach, the number of cases, and % that tenants win cases, would climb.

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Mayor Weinberger’s Pointless Housing Summit

In early September Mayor Weinberger will have a second public meeting to discuss what housing policies the city will focus on over the next two years. However, whatever comes out of that meeting will be entirely useless, as everything has been decided by housing interests, business interests, and government insiders, many of whom don’t even live in Burlington. The winners will be those with wealth and real estate, while the losers will be low-wage service/retail workers and renters, the ignored backbone of Burlington’s college and tourist economy.

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Who Does Burlington’s Electric Department/Bike Share Help Most?

Over the past couple of years Burlington, and in particular Burlington Electric Department, have rolled out several initiatives that leaders claim are meant to help low-income residents. Yet these incentives, often in the form of rebates, are handouts to a handful of individual wealthy residents while doing absolutely nothing to make our environment fairer for those at the bottom, for those experiencing climate change the hardest.

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Burlington Needs a Wealth Tax

With Mayor Weinberger putting on a housing summit next month, now is the time to advocate for bold, meaningful policies that redistribute wealth in a way to ensure that nobody has to live unwalled. A wealth tax on millionaires will raise $7.5 million a year for low-income housing projects throughout the city.

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Burlington’s Land and Housing is Controlled By a Wealthy Few

Burlington is a town of extremes. While 1% of residents control nearly $3 billion in property, 20% of residents live in extreme poverty, having $0 in assets. This staggering level of wealth concentrated in the hands of 500 individuals contradicts the idea that 1) there isn’t enough wealth in Burlington to clothe, feed, house, and educate every Burlington resident and 2) that Burlington and its local housing institutions are inclusive or democratic.

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The Ultimate NIMBYs in Burlington are Wealthy Condo/Mansion-Owners

Those with money and wealth, including Mayor Weinberger, are the ultimate NIMBYs, working to make sure that there are limited opportunities for new or different residents to move into their neighborhoods, while aggressively pushing denser development in other neighborhoods.

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

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 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.

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Who are Burlington’s Largest Landlords?

How do we, as tenants, gain control when a handful of individuals have such influence over our lives? By working together, through solidarity, and forming a tenants’ union. While we may not have much wealth we do have numbers – in fact if all renters voted, we would be easily able to vote for rent control, strong rent and tenant protections.

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Does Vermont Weatherization Program Hurt Low Income Renters?

Recently the Vermont legislature voted to raise the tax on heating oil a modest amount to help fund the state’s weatherization program. While the tax comes from good intentions, the program in practice will be taking money from low-income renters and giving that money to low-income homeowners and wealthier, often absentee, landlords. The weatherization program, … Continue reading Does Vermont Weatherization Program Hurt Low Income Renters?

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Tax Increment Financing (TIF) offers False and Flimsy Promises

The city of Burlington loves Tax Increment Financing (TIFs) – whether it be for the Moran Plant, waterfront improvements, the mall redevelopment, or the nontransparent private marina process – even though TIFs are seriously flawed. TIFs are sold on flimsy and false promises – from helping low income communities to boosting the economy when it … Continue reading Tax Increment Financing (TIF) offers False and Flimsy Promises

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UVM and Champlain College’s Admission Process Is Fueling Burlington’s Gentrification

UVM and Champlain College have a lot of power in shaping our community, in both positive and negative ways. We often hear about how 40% of UVM’s students living off campus increases non-students’ housing costs, and I’ve written about how as two of the city’s largest landlords with a captured client base, their exorbitant room … Continue reading UVM and Champlain College’s Admission Process Is Fueling Burlington’s Gentrification

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Many Low-Income Families are Being Gentrified Out of Burlington

For years now we have been hearing anecdotes about the harmful effects of gentrification on low income families in Burlington. The data in this post shows that elected officials have done nothing to slow the destruction of the widening income gap, while the low-income families remaining in Burlington are those living in worsening, abject poverty.

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Why We Should Keep Inclusionary Zoning the Way it is

As I’ve been reading up on the inclusionary zoning working group (I unfortunately missed the last meeting today), I wanted to include some data I came across. The truth is that the #1 reason more development has occurred in Burlington has less to do with Mayor Weinberger, less to do with any changes (and there … Continue reading Why We Should Keep Inclusionary Zoning the Way it is

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The Mayor’s Early Childhood Initiative

For those who are interested in the subject of early childhood education, you may have read a recent article in Seven Days in which I was quoted. Calling someone out publicly is not something I enjoy doing – and it’s tough living in a community where often the only way for public officials to shift … Continue reading The Mayor’s Early Childhood Initiative

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Burlington Affordable Housing and Tenant Laws FAQ

Burlington tenant laws are already strong so why would we need more? The truth is that Burlington tenant laws may be stronger than many cities, but fall far short of helping marginalized residents (see: Fair Housing Report, VT Legal Aid Report), especially when little money is allocated towards enforcement. There are numerous ways to evict … Continue reading Burlington Affordable Housing and Tenant Laws FAQ

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Seven Days Misses the Mark on Housing in Burlington

A recent article from Seven Days about Champlain College’s new dorms had a lot of quotes from a lot of people. I want to show how, as long as UVM and Champlain can charge whatever they want, our housing market will never resemble a ‘traditional’ supply and demand market. How, as long as properties are valued … Continue reading Seven Days Misses the Mark on Housing in Burlington

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Is Burlington Using Land Effectively and Efficiently?

  Land-use planning has a lot to do with how Burlington is shaped, and the way our city is currently planned certainly seems to favor some over others. For instance, the way our zoning works gives priority to single-family homeowners in the new north end and south end. The way our zoning changes work give … Continue reading Is Burlington Using Land Effectively and Efficiently?

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Does Burlington’s Zoning Hurt Housing Development?

Our Zoning One thing that bothered me during the debate around the mall redevelopment, particularly changing the zoning downtown, was the argument that all density is automatically good for all of Burlington’s residents. For the most part, the folks arguing passionately for more density, those who self-described as YIMBYs (Yes In My Backyard) seemed to … Continue reading Does Burlington’s Zoning Hurt Housing Development?

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UVM and Champlain On-Campus Housing Prices are Hurting the Rental Market

When I ran for city council last year and was looking into our local housing market, I was blown away by how Burlington’s housing market doesn’t function like a typical supply/demand market. There are many reasons why this is the case, (I’ll save it for a different post) but the biggest reason that housing in … Continue reading UVM and Champlain On-Campus Housing Prices are Hurting the Rental Market

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Updated: Why Are Developers and Housing Insiders Deciding Our Inclusionary Zoning Policy?

Correction: Councilor Knodell has let me know she is not a housing consultant and did not vote on Cambrian Rise. I stand corrected and apologize for the error. The Inclusionary Zoning Working Group* is the sort of group that makes you want to bang your head against a wall. Approved unanimously by city council, it’s … Continue reading Updated: Why Are Developers and Housing Insiders Deciding Our Inclusionary Zoning Policy?

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Why is ‘Affordable Housing’ Often Not Affordable?

If we want to solve our housing crisis, we have to know the city’s housing profile – what type of housing is needed and at what cost. Otherwise, we will end up using scarce city resources on solving problems that aren’t really problems, like building a thousand market-rate units of housing. Burlington’s current administration’s focus … Continue reading Why is ‘Affordable Housing’ Often Not Affordable?

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Are Poor Families and Children Being Priced Out of Burlington?

The data below suggests that Burlington is becoming a city for the wealthy, as working class families are being priced out of Burlington and forced to move further and further away from jobs and social services. What does this mean for Burlington, for our schools, for our values of inclusion? Burlington’s childhood poverty rate has … Continue reading Are Poor Families and Children Being Priced Out of Burlington?

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Bissonette and Legal Mass-Evictions

Over the course of a couple years, Bissonette has legally evicted nearly all of their tenants by upgrading their housing; the vast majority of said tenants were using Section-8 vouchers. This is not only entirely legal in an unregulated housing market like Burlington, but it is putting a huge, terrible housing crisis on Burlington’s low … Continue reading Bissonette and Legal Mass-Evictions

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The Other Side of Gentrification – A Tale of Two Burlingtons

Last month Seven Days wrote an article about gentrification in Burlington’s Old North End, where expensive new housing was built, and new restaurants popped up. Yet there’s another side of gentrification that is rarely discussed – the loss of affordable services along with the upscaling of previously affordable housing – and I believe that this … Continue reading The Other Side of Gentrification – A Tale of Two Burlingtons

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Town Meeting Day Brings A Toothless Housing Ballot Item

Last March, as cofounder of Fight for 15 Burlington, I helped city councilors put a nonbinding question on the ballot. At the time, I was incredibly proud – being able to affect such change, to help bring a better living standard to so many of my friends, coworkers, and neighbors. I was told that while … Continue reading Town Meeting Day Brings A Toothless Housing Ballot Item

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Phil Scott – Vermont’s Second-Home Worried Governor

  “Many folks on fixed incomes what {want} to stay here in Vermont and can’t afford that second home elsewhere,” Scott said. “They deserve, as much as anyone, to live with the dignity in retirement they earned through a lifetime of work.” Retired Vermonters on fixed incomes shouldn’t be paying taxes on their social security, especially … Continue reading Phil Scott – Vermont’s Second-Home Worried Governor

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Burlington Needs to Hold Slumlords like Bove Accountable

The city council recently did business with local slumlord Rick Bove in overwhelming support, voting 9-3. It seems that the 70 housing codes the Bove family amassed over the past few years, did not factor into the minds of our elected leaders. The priority to build up our downtown core seems more important to our … Continue reading Burlington Needs to Hold Slumlords like Bove Accountable

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The New Burlington Town Center Is Already Hurting Working Class Residents

I have been a very vocal critic of the Burlington Town Center for several years, mainly because the development relies on trickle down housing and trickle down economics to help low income residents. A recent article in VTDigger about UVM Medical Center’s expansion to the BTC, and the pressure and ‘passion’ Mayor Weinberger used to persuade … Continue reading The New Burlington Town Center Is Already Hurting Working Class Residents

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The Boves are Slumlords and the City Shouldn’t Work with Them

We, as a community, are at a crossroads. Recent policy decisions by our current administration continue to put the welfare of businesses and wealthy landlords over the needs of our residents. But we can change that! A case study can be the Boves family, especially local landlord Rick Boves, shows us how if we let … Continue reading The Boves are Slumlords and the City Shouldn’t Work with Them

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