TRORC is working with many partners to ensure that people in the region have safe, healthy and affordable homes that contribute to their communities' vitality. We believe in a diversity of housing to meet the varied needs of our residents, and that housing should largely be located near municipal and commercial centers and coordinated with public utilities and municipal infrastructure. We work at the state, regional and local level to reach our housing goals.
Our work on housing at the state level includes representing the region's position on housing to the Vermont State Legislature, supporting the public awareness campaign of the Vermont Housing and Finance Agency and working with the Vermont Department of Economic Housing and Community Development to obtain funding for education as well as construction.
At the regional level, TRORC works with abutting regional commissions to understand our neighbors' growth pressures and plan to mitigate the possible impacts on our region. We have served on the board of the Upper Valley Housing Coalition, encouraging the partnership of public and private entities concerned with the availability and affordability of housing. We support the work of the existing housing trusts, such as the Tiwn Pines Housng Trust in White River Junction, facilitating communications with member towns where housing is needed and the project conforms with our Regional Plan policies. We work to keep the region informed of housing needs, based on available data, particularly advocating for the senior population and the needs of working families. And finally, we endeavor to craft our regional policies with the understanding that the choices we make on each of our regional issues, (transportation, economic development, basin planning, etc), impacts the supply and cost of housing.
We are a party to any permitting for housing developments that are large enough to require review under Act 250. We work with the applicant and the District Environmental Commission to ensure that the project not only creates housing, but does so in an appropriate way and in an appropriate location.
The local level is where most planning and regulations affect what kind of housing will be built and where. This is because in our region, most of the new housing built consists of single homes built a few at a time. There are currently very few housing developments to evaluate under Act 250. To this end, we assist our towns in addressing the location, type, scale, energy efficiency and density of housing in their local plans and regulations. We encourage regulations and plan language which makes use of multi-family housing development, inclusionary zoning, mixed uses, and planned unit developments (PUDs).
In some cases, actions are needed to safely increase housing density in core growth areas. We can assist towns with public sewer and water improvement projects, environmental due diligence, housing planning and construction grants, and revisions to regulations to allow the adaptive reuse of space in abandoned or underutilized buildings for housing, including the rehabilitation of second and third floors above downtown commercial spaces. In our local assistance, we recognize that solutions to a housing shortage must be balanced with other local planning objectives.