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).
What’s more exciting than watching baseball all day?Well, probably watching football, hockey or basketball all day.In today’s sports world filled with adrenaline pumping, full-contact, grinding-it-out-for-the-win excitement, baseball’s classy, leisurely style just doesn’t have quite the same effect on the general public.Sure, baseball is “America’s pastime,” but the grandeur of the sport seems to have been tarnished as football rose to dominance and took the sports throne.In light of all this, opening day has become a contested day of the year – either people are head-over-heels for it, or they couldn’t care less.For those who couldn’t care less, they missed out on one of the more exciting opening days baseball has seen in awhile. Being a Twins fan, I’d like to see the Yankees die a slow, torturous death after what they’ve put me through the last two years. But upon watching their entire game today against the Tigers, entertainment ensued.While all my expectations consisted of the Yankees creaming the Tigers, baseball can’t get much more exciting with a 3-3 tie headed into the seventh. Sure, Curtis Granderson hit a bomb out to right field, securing a 1-0 record for New York, off Detroit lefty Phil Coke as soon as he took the mound (so it seemed), but the game single-handedly showed baseball at its finest.Originally, I was indifferent about opening day – mainly because the Twins didn’t play – but also because I wasn’t quite feeling up for baseball season quite yet, and I wasn’t expecting anything too exciting to happen upon looking at the schedule.I was seriously going to propose opening day should be filled with rivalries: Yankees-Red Sox, White Sox-Twins, Brewers-Cubs, and the list goes on. Sure, there’s one rivalry played each year to start the season off – this year the baseball gods have graced us with the San Francisco Giants and L.A. Dodgers.Even if these rivalries were just a one-day event and not a series, creating more hype about opening day and the start of baseball season would be more remarkable and more exciting.Initially, I was expecting these shortcomings without big rival games. I thought baseball would start without being remarkable or interesting.I was wrong.Besides the surprisingly entertaining Yankees game – which I despise myself for liking due to my Twins fandom – coupled with a rollercoaster Brewers-Reds game, opening day had that magic baseball has been missing lately.Now all you Badger-Brewer fans don’t fret; the Brewers loss was a hard blow, but the game as a whole was exactly what opening day needed.Starting off with back-to-back homeruns from Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez is probably the best way any team can start off a season, but then to add a third only four innings later seemed to seal the deal. How could Brewers fans not feel as if the Brewers were finally showing promise?Enter the ninth inning. Down 6-3, the Reds clearly did not want to start off on the wrong foot by taking the loss. The squad came back with a hot fury worthy of its name.Maybe the pressure for a save with a three-run advantage was too much for righty John Axford? Maybe it was opening day jitters? Or maybe Axford felt he had to give the fans something to remember, something to draw them – or the people who could care less about the day – in?Whatever was going through Axford’s mind, the Reds took advantage of whatever weakness they saw, and Ramon Hernandez hit a three-run home run after Jonny Gomes hit a sacrifice fly, giving Cincinnati four runs in the ninth for the win.Who saw that coming? Definitely not the Brewers.Understandably, the loss was tough, but that game helped make 2011 Opening Day into something glorious.Instead of being bored with the fact that baseball started and feeling a severe lack of fulfillment from sports – baseball just doesn’t do it for me the way football or hockey does – this season is shaping up to be a turning point.Yeah, it’s only been one day, but it’s been a day like no other. For once, sitting down and watching three hours of baseball was made possible without also doing homework or any other sort of activity.Even the Dodgers-Giants game had that special something that helped make one of baseball’s finest days even better.Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw and Giants righty Tim Lincecum fought it out in a true battle of the pitchers. The game was close throughout and forced you to want it to stay close, to see which pitcher could grind it out the longest.Baseball hasn’t been the sport of a nation as it once was by any means recently, but for once, there’s hope. For once, baseball held the captivating emotions, and grinding-it-out-for-the-win excitement made you glue your eyes to the TV rather than take a nap.Kelly is a sophomore intending to major in journalism. Did opening day captivate you as much as it did her? Let her know about your favorite baseball moments at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @kellyerickson4.