QUEEN CITY HOUSING COSTS 35% HIGHER THAN NATIONAL AVERAGELake Champlain Chamber, VHFA identify housing as a crisis for Vermont’sworking familiesBURLINGTON – Vermont’s Queen City area might be one of the most livable inAmerica, but it’s also an increasingly expensive one, especially forhousing.New figures from ACCRA, a community and economic development researchassociation, released today by the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce andVermont Housing Finance Agency, show that the cost-of-living in theBurlington area — Burlington, Essex, South Burlington, Winooski andColchester — for the third quarter of 2004 was more than 17 percent abovethe national average. In the same period in 2003, the area’s compositeindex was 12.5 percent above the national average.In the third quarter 2004, Burlington was higher than the national averagein every category, with the greatest deviation from the mean found in thecost of housing at 134.8%. The city’s utilities were at 117.8%;miscellaneous goods and services at 106.4%; transportation at 109.4%; andgrocery items at 110.4Chamber President A. Wayne Roberts identified housing as a key componentofthe organization’s efforts to attract and retain businesses and theiremployees to the area. “High housing costs are a challenge for thoseseeking to live and work in Greater Burlington,” he said. “For a lot ofpeople relocating to our region, it means a choice between Burlington at135% of the national average and Plattsburgh at 93%.””Clearly, we’re still playing catch-up when it comes to providing anadequate supply of affordable housing, and that’s driving up costs,” saidVHFA Executive Director Sarah Carpenter. “We know this problem affectsindividual Vermonters, their families, our businesses and our economy as awhole. It boils down to a fundamental issue of costs versus wages.Vermonters are having trouble finding affordable housing.”According to the ACCRA data, the most expensive two-bedroom apartment inthenation is in New York City with an average monthly rent of $3,506. Theleast expensive is Hays, Kansas with an average monthly rent of $450.Burlington’s average monthly rent is $1,120. One silver lining in theACCRAreport is that the Burlington area’s housing costs are still lower thansomeother New England metro areas, such as New Haven, Conn. at 149.3%;Providence, R.I. at 168.3%; and Boston at 178.5%. Yet the GreaterBurlington area’s housing costs rank above cities like Miami, Fla. at127%;Hilton Head, S.C., at 110.3%; and Las Vegas, at 130.1%.The Lake Champlain Chamber has identified housing as an economicdevelopmentpriority for the 2005 legislative session, citing it, along with taxburdens, as a chief business competitiveness issue. VHFA offerslow-interest mortgages for qualified homebuyers and provides funding andadministers state and federal housing tax credits to encourage developmentof affordable rental units. Both organizations are members of the VermontHousing Awareness Campaign, www.housingawareness.org(link is external), a state-wide publiceducation effort to build support for housing development.The Lake Champlain Chamber is a participant in the nation-widecost-of-living index, compiled by ACCRA. The ACCRA survey examines theafter-tax cost of a professional/managerial standard of living for 324urbanareas.The quarterly index is available by subscription. Go online towww.costofliving.org(link is external) for additional information. The cost of living datafor the Burlington area was compiled by The Lake Champlain Chamber andEconomic and Policy Resources of Williston. Data are available atwww.vermont.org(link is external). Additional housing statistical information is availableatthe Vermont Housing Data Web site, www.housingdata.org(link is external).