Our Work

Smart Growth in Action: Fundamental Principles

Provide for housing that meets the needs of a diversity of social and income groups in each Vermont community, but especially in communities that are most rapidly growing.
Economic and social values are shifting in our country and Vermont is no exception. As we focus more on climate change and the need to secure cleaner, more efficient energy sources, we also have to look at the types of housing that are available to Vermonters today. Many factors, including income, age and a diversity in individual housing needs such as proximity to services, transit and parks, must be considered when a housing project is designed in a community. When these factors are brought to the forefront, we begin to see the need to plan for a variety of housing options.
Vermont communities represent a diverse segment of individuals ranging from empty nesters and young professionals, to single parents and seniors, each with unique housing needs. According to US Census data, single parent households in Vermont average 9% of the population and 28% of the state’s households are of people living alone. Thirteen percent of Vermonters are 65 and older and it is estimated that this demographic will rise to one-fourth of our population by 2030. The data above indicates a growing need for diversity in housing designs. This diversity in populations, however, does not match the trend in types of housing units constructed in Vermont as of 2007: 70% single-units, compared to 22% multi-unit structures.
Many Vermonters are choosing to live closer to city centers and transit lines, and in multi-unit developments that have regularly maintained properties. These lifestyle choices are increasing in our changing society and when planning, communities must be willing to respond by incorporating a mixture of housing types, including smaller cottage size homes, duplexes where single families are allowed, and zoning that allows for one to two acre lots.
A variety of resources are available to help communities, planners and developers make informed decisions about new housing developments, including community land trusts. In the coming months, our Community Planning Toolbox will also offer tools such the need for density, the importance of design and other housing tools that a community can use to create more diversity in housing for the benefit of all Vermonters.