Letters to the Editor

Letter to the Editor: Burlington Should Have a Housing Needs Assessment Study

At the September 2021 Town Meeting, members will have the opportunity to vote favorably for an independent housing  needs assessment, proposed by the town’s Housing Partnership Committee (HPC). This committee was formed because of the first two unfriendly 40B projects approximately 30 years ago. The HPC has recently been invigorated and includes four new members, all of whom have relevant backgrounds and are strong advocates for affordable housing and related  programs. 

The housing needs assessment will be conducted by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, a nonprofit regional  planning agency, with a cost of approximately $30,000 to be paid from the existing cash balance in the town’s affordable  housing fund. A comprehensive, independent housing needs assessment has never been done in Burlington and will  provide a wide-ranging overview of our town’s demographics and trends, current housing inventory, and housing needs  for seniors, families, singles, and those with disabilities. It will have both quantitative (data) and qualitative components  (community outreach done through forums and interviews). The report will serve as a guide to develop equitable  housing policies, budgets, programs, and strategies. The process will also inform and educate the community on the  concept of “affordable housing,” which is often misunderstood to mean subsidized housing when, in fact, the term  affordable simply refers to housing that is affordable to median-income residents. 

We are excited to kick off this project to better understand the diverse housing needs of our community. Knowing what  currently exists and what our community needs and wants for housing is the first step in developing an equitable plan  for ourselves, our children, and all those who want to live and enjoy Burlington. 

We plan to update the town’s website over the coming weeks with information about the housing needs assessment  and its timeline as well as our plans for future housing related activities. We ask for your support for this important and  long overdue analysis. You can let your voice be heard by contacting your Town Meeting Members and ask them to vote  favorably on this warrant article. You can find the contact information for your Town Meeting Members by visiting  https://www.burlington.org/documentcenter/view/884/members-pdf. Thank you for your support. 

Respectfully, the Housing Partnership Committee Members: 

Mike Runyan, Chair 

Ernie Covino, Vice Chair 

Kerry Donahue, Secretary 

Rita Shah 

Eileen Sickler 

John Sullivan 

Henry Wu