Press Release

Welch Calls for Coordinated Federal Policy Approach to the Housing Crisis in Joint Economic Committee Hearing

Jan 19, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a Joint Economic Committee hearing this week, Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.) emphasized the importance of increasing affordable housing for Vermonters and outlined the need for Congress to encourage communities to make changes that promote affordable housing. Senator Welch highlighted new factors contributing to the shortage of affordable housing in Vermont and across the country, some of which have been attributed to the aftershocks of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, and acknowledged that while Vermont has taken action to boost the housing supply, these steps are just one piece of the puzzle and more work remains to be done. 

“In Vermont, after COVID, a couple of things happened: Number one, an enormous number of people from out of Vermont came and bought a second home. And those are effectively beyond reach now for local folks. Number two, a number of investors came to Vermont, bought up homes and turned them into Airbnb’s, and those are now off the books. And as much as we’re aggressively doing all we can to build new affordable housing, and dealing with local regulations it takes a longer time in order to do that and we’ve got a real crisis,” said Sen. Welch. “The third problem that is enormous is workforce. We just don’t have the folks that are the electricians, and the plumbers, and the roofers, and the drywall folks. That is a huge problem. Finally, on the market, if you’re a contractor you make a lot more money buying or building a pretty luxury second home as opposed to affordable housing. And we haven’t really talked about those factors that are the real dynamic that I suspect affects not just Vermont, but I’ll bet a lot of other places as well.”  

According to a 2023 report from the Office of the State Treasurer of Vermont, housing was the most cited reason for moving out of Vermont in 2021 and 2022.  

As Chair the Senate Agriculture Committee’s Rural Development and Energy Subcommittee, Sen. Welch plays a key role in and oversees many of the programs in USDA’s Rural Development mission area, including housing—a pressing issue for many Vermont communities.  

Watch Sen. Welch’s full remarks here