Douglas: House "on the wrong track"

Gov. Jim Douglas today said he is increasingly concerned that Vermonters will not see meaningful housing legislation this year because the House Democrat majority is on the wrong track. The House Democrat leadership is off on the wrong track. In this case, they are poised to pass a bill that severely restricts where new homes can be built, adds costly and time consuming regulations, restricts the amount of equity that homeowners can get when they sell their home, and adds a cumbersome, expensive state inspection program to duplicate work already being done by capable local officials, Douglas said. Unfortunately, this majority does not appreciate the fact that home construction can create hundreds of new jobs and stimulate economic growth. Douglas said Vermonters know that now is a good time to put homeownership within reach of more working families. The majority controlling our House of Representatives apparently does not agree, Douglas continued. To put homeownership within reach of more working familiesand to provide a significant boost to our economyGov. Douglas proposed the New Neighborhoods initiative. The New Neighborhoods initiative streamlines the regulatory systems, creates incentives for communities to approve new construction and complements the existing low income housing network. Revised provisions of this initiative address concerns heard last year from the Legislaturea clear indication of Douglas interest in progress on this economic development issue. Ive also offered an Urban Homestead proposal, Douglas said. All throughout Vermonts downtowns there are buildings with thriving commercial space on the first floor but underutilized space on the upper floors. By providing tax incentives, Douglas wants to encourage first-time homeowners to invest in these spaceshelping to significantly increase the availability of affordable homes and economic growth in our downtowns and village centers. House Democrats, however, have largely ignored Douglas plans to build affordable homes and strengthen the economy. Instead of moving forward with a New Neighborhoods initiative, theyve tossed together a bill with very significant flaws that ultimately would make the construction of homes less likely and more expensive. Its not a New Neighborhoods bill; its a No Neighborhoods bill, the Governor said. Organizations like the Vermont Home Builders and Remodelers Association and the Vermont Association of Realtors oppose the bill. These housing experts recognize that this bill would not address our housing crisis or boost our economy. In fact, this bill could make both the housing crisis and our economy worse, the Governor added. I will not support legislation that makes our housing crisis worse and undermines our economy. I hope the House leadership will stop moving in the wrong direction and begin working in earnest to put homeownershipand the many economic benefits that come with itwithin reach of every Vermonter.s.

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