by Jenny Stoner and Hal Gray, Community Journalists
EAST CRAFTSBURY – At the invitation of the East Craftsbury Presbyterian Church, on Sunday, March 26, the first Community Housing Forum brought together neighbors to discuss the local lack of affordable housing and ways to address this need. Twenty-five people from Craftsbury, Greensboro and Albany, met for a gathering moderated by Neil Urie.
The need was clarified early with the comment that 17 new employees of the Cellars at Jasper Hill were unable to find affordable housing nearby. Forum participants articulated the many needs including for single-person housing as well as for single family and multi-family homes. There are also long-term residents currently in older, inefficient homes facing heat loss, higher maintenance costs, and increased taxes. Challenges to proposed changes were also cited such as restrictive zoning and opposition among some residents to the construction of affordable housing. Vermont regulations may also challenge new construction, like septic requirements.
The forum suggested various approaches for meeting these needs including collecting more data on needs and advocating for more-realistic zoning, applying for construction grants and other financing, identifying land for multi-family housing, and talking to our legislators and other outside groups. Such groups could include Rural Edge, Vermont Council on Rural Development, Efficiency Vermont, and a private affordable housing development in St. Johnsbury.
The forum finished with general agreement that it had been a stimulating meeting with lots of participation. The next forum, scheduled for Sunday, April 30, at 4 p.m., in the East Craftsbury Presbyterian Church, will clarify the group’s mission and goals. Anyone interested is invited to attend.