The three towns of Waitsfield, Warren, and Fayston share many of the same housing challenges including seasonality, abundance of second-homes, poor quality housing stock built between 1960-1979, and a lack of wastewater capacity to support housing development in appropriate locations. Affordable housing is key to retaining and attracting young people, as well as maintaining a strong workforce, but rising housing costs have been outpacing increases in median household income between 2000 and 2014.

*Affordable housing is defined as paying no more than 30% of one’s income for housing (Housing & Urban Development (HUD), 2018).

Source: MRV Housing Study (2017); Vermont Housing Data (2014)
Source: MRV Housing Study (2017); Vermont Housing Data (2014)

Housing Supply 

  • The MRV will need to accommodate 459 additional households over the next decade to meet population projections (14-19% increase by 2030).
  • Households are getting smaller, the population is getting older, and single & non-family households are on the rise – creating a need for additional small housing units.

Housing Affordability

  • A person must earn $22.22 an hour to afford a 1-bedroom apartment in the MRV (as of 2017).
  • minimum wage earner must work 93 hours a week to afford a 1-bedroom apartment in the MRV (as of 2017).
  • Purchasing a single-family home is out of reach for all but those households that earn above 120% of area median income.
  • There was a 55% decrease in the number of people <35 years old who owned homes between 2000 and 2014, signaling a need for affordable ownership opportunities to attract and retain young people & encourage first time home buyers.
  • Median household income was $73,101 in the MRV in 2014**, but
    50% of jobs are in the Leisure & Hospitality and Retail sectors that offer annual wages between $19,560 and $24,159, signaling a need for additional workforce housing.

Economic Development

  • 92% of responding business owners are in agreement that the current housing choices in the MRV are not adequate
  • 50% of business owners agreed that a lack of housing choices in the Mad River Valley is having a negative effect on the success of their business.
  • 60% said a lack of housing choices has specifically affected their ability to attract and hire employees.

Study Recommendations

The Study outlines a variety of housing types and recommendations to increase the supply of affordable housing including:

  • Increasing wastewater capacity (particularly in Irasville)
  • Incentivizing and connecting landlords with tenants
  • Committing municipal resources (in the form of land or water/wastewater capacity) to housing projects to reduce fixed costs of development
  • Utilizing tiny houses as a strategy to quickly increase the supply of affordable housing

One of the study’s recommendations has already been implemented: a partnership between the MRVPD and Sugarbush Resort established the Tenants for Turns program. Tenants for Turns is the first East Coast program of its kind and offers local homeowners incentives to rent to Sugarbush employees.