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National Study Illustrates the Broadly Negative Impact felt from 54 years of Heavy Regulation under Act 250


The Pew Charitable Trust visited the Vermont State House in April to present a study on how over-regulation on housing adversely impacts home prices, rental rates, and economic growth while compounding homelessness and causing more displacement of minority populations.


The study illustrates how Vermont's heavy regulatory obstacles, high fees, and long delays, led by the 1970 passing of Act 250, are the embodiment of arrested development.


Other progressive regions have added more housing, while Vermont's regressive regulation has done real damage.


The Pew Study, titled Outcomes of State and Local Housing Policy Changes, demonstrates the positive impact of more reasonable regulations when it comes to housing. It also places a spotlight on Vermont's failures. Here are some key slides from the research presentation.


Housing shortage hurts affordability

Heavy regulation has caused Vermont to fall woefully behind in developing new housing, dropping the state's housing stock to an all-time low while increasing the median home cost of a Vermont home by a stunning 44%.


Heavy regulation has left Vermont with sky-high rental costs and the second-highest homeless rate in the United States

As noted in the study, rental rates in Chittenden County have increased by 43%. Similar increases are found across Vermont. Meanwhile, only California has a higher per-capita homeless rate, but without California's resources to address it.



Lack of housing disproportionately hurts the BIPOC community

Inclusivity is a central tenet of Vermont's culture, yet heavy regulation actually hurts the people Vermont wants to support.



Between 2017 and 2021, the city of Minneapolis built over 8,000 new housing units - here's what happened compared to Vermont


Rental Rates Remained Stable



A home in Burlington is 62% more expensive than in Minneapolis



Modernization of old regulations was highly successful



Reasonable regulations protect the homeless



Act 250 evangelists argue the regulations protect the environment and water, but Minnesota ranks higher in both categories than Vermont, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Category

Minnesota National Rank

Vermont National Rand

Air and Water Quality

Number 4

Number 30

Natural Environment

Number 2

Number 10

Fiscal Stability

Number 7

Number 35

The Takeaway

Vermont's Act 250 seemed like a good idea when it was passed in 1970, but this study clearly shows the adverse impact. One notable quote from the regulation's biggest defenders is their admission that the changes they are willing to consider, "won't help the housing crisis, but it's a start."


Vermont regulatory proponents did it their way for 50 years, and most of the state's population has paid a steep price for their miscalculations. Hopefully, a less myopic look at Vermont's situation will lead to better practices sooner rather than later.


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