Housing is intrinsically connected to all areas of a person’s life. Affordable housing - housing for which the occupant pays no more than 30% of their household income – helps to ensure households have enough to spend on other essential areas such as healthcare, food, transportation and education. Safe, affordable, and energy efficient housing for all current and prospective Mad River Valley residents is a shared vision among the three towns of Warren, Waitsfield and Fayston.
Physical & Mental Health Housing is now widely considered one of the most basic and influential social determinants of health. Quality housing limits exposure to environmental toxins such as mold, lead, asbestos, and poor air quality. It also frees up resources to spend on healthy food and health enrichment activities. These factors improve physical health and decrease healthcare costs.
Access to affordable housing has positive mental health outcomes, as well. People living in affordable housing are less likely to be forced into making difficult decisions such as having to choose between paying for food, clothing or medical care for their families. Affordability also equates with stability. Limiting frequent moves has the benefit of allowing a person the time and space to address other life challenges. Reducing the aforementioned stressors in a person’s life has been proven to better their mental health and well being.
Education Housing affordability directly affects children’s academic performance. Children living in rent burdened households are more likely to have behavioral problems and be held back in school. Housing stability creates a reliable environment for children to learn, grow and feel safe. This reduces the likelihood of chronic absenteeism, toxic stress and trauma.
Economic Mobility Lack of access to affordable housing exacerbates inequity and blocks access to opportunities for upward mobility. Rent burdened households have little opportunity to save and often have difficulty qualifying for mortgage financing. This diminishes their prospects for personal wealth building. The effects of affordable housing on upward mobility have a particular impact on children. The integration of affordable housing in economically prosperous communities with greater resources to spend on schools, parks and public amenities is directly correlated with upward mobility in future income distribution.
Local Economy National, state and local studies have proven the creation of housing close to jobs stimulates the economy. In 2005 the Vermont Housing and Finance Agency conducted a study that estimated building 25 single family homes in Vermont would return $6.3 million in additional income for Vermont businesses and 61 jobs that pay just over $2 million in wages.
Locally, the 2020 Mad River Valley Housing Demand & Market Analysis listed lack of affordable housing as the number one impediment to employer’s ability to fill positions. 79% of businesses claimed a lack of affordable housing choices are having a negative effect on area businesses.
Sustainable Communities Attainable housing options for households at all income levels helps to ensure that those who work in the Mad River Valley can live here; in turn, a diverse and stable population has the potential of increasing local school enrollment, town revenues, and business support. Housing that is affordable for households of all ages supports the community by helping to ensure that young adults and families can stay or move into town, and older residents can age in place. Creating affordable housing in and near village centers supports walk and bike-ability, access to transit, access to local resources and businesses, and reduces social isolation.