Housing as a Human Right
Housing is more than just a building. It’s a human right. It’s where we live, raise our families, find safety and refuge, and create memories. We all deserve a home that is affordable to rent or own and accessible to work. Unfortunately, in Vermont, this isn’t feasible for many Vermonters.
Pathways to Homeownership
As we navigate an escalating housing crisis, we must remember that the middle class does not create homeownership. Homeownership creates the middle class. Unfortunately, a lack of housing, especially affordable housing, leaves homeownership out of reach for too many Vermont families, especially Black and brown Vermonters.
As a State Senator, I helped first-time and first-generation homebuyers get the support and assistance they needed to realize their homeownership dreams. We must increase support for similar programs at the federal level and make it easier for working families to become homeowners.
When I entered the House of Representatives in 2009, I joined the committee overseeing housing and economic development. At the time, I was the only renter in the legislature, and I took my perspective and made sure renters were represented in the decision-making process.
Far too many Vermonters are trapped in a cycle of high-rents and low wages, and communities can be displaced from neighborhoods they have spent their entire lives in because of spikes in the cost of rent. We need common sense rental control measures that protect our communities, while expanding the number of available rental units to drive down prices.
Tenants also deserve protections from landlords who are not fulfilling their end of the bargain. This legislative session, I advanced local charter changes to eliminate “no cause” evictions, ensuring that renters are not unfairly forced to leave their homes and eliminating the subjectivity that allows discrimination to influence evictions. In Montpelier, I will continue to work with our local communities to understand their specific needs and work to ensure those needs are met by local and federal funding.
Investments in Affordable Housing and Ending Homelessness
The federal government must use every available tool to expand access to affordable housing. Our public housing system desperately needs additional investment and modernization to revitalize infrastructure and decarbonize existing structures. In addition, I support repealing the Faircloth Amendment to allow for the construction of new public housing units, something the federal government has been prohibited from doing since 1999. We also have an opportunity to end homelessness by pursuing “housing first” models and providing permanent supportive housing to folks experiencing chronic homelessness.
Finally, we need to strengthen the Fair Housing Act to prevent discriminatory barriers vulnerable popoulations face when seeking to rent or purchase housing. This includes updating the law to prevent discrimation based on gender identiy or sexual orientation, or if the tenant or buyer is using a housing assistance program like a rental voucher.
This, above, is how we tackle Vermont’s housing crisis and ensure housing as a human right for all Vermonters. This will continue to be one of my top priorities going into this session, where I will fight to ensure that all Vermonters have this right.