Monday, October 17, 2016

Sinex Mall Proposal--No Housing or Benefit to the Very Low Income

There is not a single unit of Sinex 54 "affordable" units for the "poor and disenfranchised" as he Mayor Weinberger has sometimes referred within the Sinex Mall proposal.  All 54 Sinex units are moderate income with rent caps of $1,000 monthly for a one-bedroom and $1,200 for a two bedroom.

Burlington now has about one in three non-student households living in “affordable units”--Burlington Housing Authority with most of the “deep subsidy” affordable units which reach down to $0 income and the bulk of affordables, non-profit rentals with “shallow subsidy” primarily by Champlain Hosing Trust and Cathedral.  Added to these are the “inclusionary zoning housing” like that proposed in the Sinex project. They represent at most today about 8% of all affordable units and Sinex units (some would likely be built with or with the Mall as proposed) about, potentially, just 2 percent of the affordable units in the City—again those Sinex would be shallow subsidy for moderate income residents. Actually the percentage of affordable units in Burlington is very remarkable, about 2,500 units.  This total is reached when you include Burlington Colege (Erik Farrell's Cambrian Rise, 675 units) project and Ireland's 220 units on Grove Street now renting, Bayberry Commons.

We all support a responsible mixed Mall redevelopment--so some affordable units surely will be developed on the Mall property. This analysis does not include inclusionary from the 62 Bove project units now moving forward on Pearl Street.

In terms of sheer numbers of housing units being added in Burlington the Sinex overall project of 274 unit remains a small part of the expansion of housing begun in 2013 with over half the 2,000 expansion of rental housing—equal to 20% of the 10,000 rental units in Burlington in the 2010 census—more than enough to effect a dampening impact on market rents. Already the vacancy rate has moved toward healthy status and is likely to stay that way for the foreseeable futgure as over half the 2,000 units under development are in place today. Student population is in a downward trend and both UVM and Champlain College are adding substantial numbers of beds in housing coming online within 24 months.

Vacancy in Burlington now reaches about 3 percent in the healthy range with more than 226 rental vacancies found in an October “snapshot” rental survey. There is no basis for claiming in any way shape or manner the Sinex project addresses any housing problem in Burlington at all and mostly--over 200 units--provides $1,600 to $2,000 monthly rentals on up (Sinex said at a New North End meeting he is not sure the units will be rentals or condos).  Talk to any small landlord they will tell you how loose the market is and how it is taking longer and longer to rent their units. 


Two major types of housing are needed: (1) more senior housing (0 in Sinex); and (2) very low income vouchers for both families and seniors (again, none in the Sinex project).  This was the message from U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Castro and the speakers when he visited and opened Bright Street.  You will hear from COVE which advocates for seniors and low income housing proponents seeking support for a 1% (about $2 a night) lodging charge to support a very low income housing program by the State reaching upwards of 1,000 low income families and households. 

Stop listening to the misleading material form the City administration

And please join CLC in supporting a "better" Town Center, a responsible City development approach and reject the massive Sinex complex. 

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