Renting just got tougher in Vermont

MIDDLEBURY - Renting an apartment in Addison County and elsewhere in the Green MountainState continues to grow more difficult for the average Vermonter, according to a report released last week. The 2011 edition of the report, "Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Housing and Wages in Vermont," shows a modest two-bedroom apartment in Vermont costs an average of $990 a month, a 7 percent increase over the year before and a 58 percent increase since 2000. A renter would need to earn an hourly wage of at least $19.03, $39,595, annually, to afford this.

"Renting an apartment has been a challenge in Vermont for some time because of rising costs and a low vacancy rate. This report confirms it continues to grow more challenging, especially for those on the lower end of Vermont's income scale," according to Sarah Carpenter, executive director of Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA), the report's publisher.

"Vermont's affordable rental scenario is poised to become even more challenging," Carpenter says. "Recent cuts to the federal budget could seriously reduce the state's limited affordable housing stock and severely hamper the millions of dollars of private investment in housing that is leveraged by those federal resources."

The situation is made graver by the state's aging housing stock. The report estimates Vermont could lose up to 500 affordable housing units due to their deteriorating condition or lack of available resources to preserve the housing when federal affordability contracts expire and owners have the option to sell. Recapitalization of these older assisted housing projects is critical.

"VHFA and the state's other housing organizations are committed to doing all we can to assure all Vermonters have a safe, affordable, decent place to live," Carpenter said, "whether rented or a home of their own."

The high cost of renting in Vermont

•Vermonters pay too much for housing, according to VHFA. This ranks Vermont the 17th worst state in the nation. But landlords say their high maintenance costs, taxes, rising fuel oil/utility costs, snow plowing services, etc., must be factored in.

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