[Hpn] HUD Secretary Martinez visits Vermont; Burlington Free Press; 9/24/02

Morgan W. Brown norsehorse@hotmail.com
Wed, 25 Sep 2002 11:02:15 -0400

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Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Burlington Free Press <http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com>
[Burlington, Vermont]
Local News section
HUD Secretary Martinez visits Vermont

By Anne Wallace Allen
The Associated Press

The burdens of regulation are limiting affordable housing for Vermonters, 
the federal government's top housing officer said Monday.

Mel Martinez, the secretary of the federal Housing and Urban Development 
Department, said a difficult, expensive environmental permit process deters 
developers from building enough new houses to meet the need in Vermont. The 
result, he said, is that housing prices have shot up in recent years, 
putting a home out of the reach of many working families.

"I'm convinced that a lot of the affordability problems have to do with 
state permitting," Martinez said. Only by reducing regulation, he said, will 
policymakers be able to reverse the housing shortage.

"The housing needs of Vermont are only going to be solved if we can solve 
some of the root causes of the price of housing," he said.

Martinez was in Burlington for a brief stop to promote state Treasurer James 
Douglas' run for governor.

Housing is an important issue in Vermont this year. Policymakers and 
advocates for the poor have been reporting in the past year that Vermont is 
suffering a severe shortage of housing, not just for the poor but for the 
middle-income as well.

Douglas said the median price of a home in Vermont went up by nearly 30 
percent between 1996 and 2001 and Vermont's rural areas had one of the 
highest cost increases for rental housing in the United States between 2000 
and 2001.

In introducing Martinez, Douglas blamed the high cost of regulation, such as 
environmental permitting, for Vermont's housing shortage. He said if elected 
he would submit legislation within his first 100 days in office to speed up 
the permit process and make it more affordable.

Martinez echoed that theme. In his brief remarks to a crowd of Douglas 
supporters at the Radisson Hotel, he stayed away from talking specifically 
about Vermont's housing problems, saying he knew little about Vermont 
regulations. He said studies show in California that it costs about $118,000 
for permitting and fees to build a single new home in that state.

"I'm sure the numbers are similar in Vermont," he said.


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Morgan <norsehorse@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA

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