Mayor Miro Weinberger Announces New Housing Agreement with the University of Vermont

The new MOU, which requires Council approval, would commit UVM to providing 1.5 beds per undergraduate student enrolled above fall 2023 level; City to up-zone three campus parcels at Trinity, East Ave, and the Waterman block

Burlington, Vt. – Today, Mayor Miro Weinberger announced that he and President Suresh Garimella of UVM have overcome prior setbacks and reached a housing agreement intended to increase student beds, reduce student pressure on the broader local housing market, and support UVM’s admission goals. The MOU, if approved by the City Council, will commit the university to providing a minimum of an additional 1.5 beds per every one undergraduate student it enrolls above the fall 2023 level. To facilitate the creation of on-campus beds, the Administration commits to work with UVM to advance several zoning amendments for UVM’s Trinity Campus on Colchester Ave, the 280 East Avenue parcel, and the Waterman block on South Prospect Street.

It is anticipated that these zoning amendments will enable UVM to construct as many as 1500 new student beds, in addition to the over 600 beds for graduates, faculty, and staff and nearly 550 beds for undergraduates planned in South Burlington. The agreement also commits the University to providing annual reports on beds and enrollment trends.

The Mayor plans to present the agreement publicly in a City Council presentation on Monday, December 18, and seek City Council approval for the agreement in early 2024.  UVM and the City will also hold an informational public meeting about the agreement in January (details to be announced).

“President Garimella’s sustained commitment to building new student housing has been welcome and impressive, and, I am pleased to say, will now be reflected in and supported by a new agreement between UVM and the City,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “After a year of discussions and hard work, we now have a plan to up-zone not one parcel, but three separate large UVM-owned lots for major on-campus student housing projects, as well as fresh commitments from the university to build new beds as undergraduate enrollment grows, and to improve transparency around their future goals and enrollment data. Importantly, this MOU goes beyond immediate actions and commits both the City and UVM to ongoing, future efforts to address our housing needs. While construction always takes a long time and involves significant uncertainty, this agreement creates a clear path to reducing student housing pressures to the lowest point since the 90s and supports modest growth in enrollment for undergrads.”

UVM’s fall 2023 Undergraduate Enrollment was 11,614, including 2,896 first year students.

“UVM and Burlington are fortunate to be so attractive to a new generation of Vermonters,” said UVM President Suresh Garimella, “and the university is glad to work with our partners in the City to make possible our envisioned expansion of on-campus housing."

Commitments in the MOU

The proposed MOU will take effect following City Council approval and will be effective through October 2028. In the agreement, both parties would commit to re-evaluate and memorialize future commitments prior to its expiration.

The MOU will commit UVM to:

  • Provide new beds for undergraduate students if enrollment grows, by increasing the number of available beds by an amount that is at least 1.5 times the increase in the number of Undergraduate Students over and above the fall 2023 baseline;
  • Provide the City an annual report depicting the number of and basis for calculating its available beds and undergraduate students on or before October 31 of each year for the five-year term of the MOU;
  • And identifies UVM’s intent to exceed this commitment to positively impact off-campus housing demand and UVM’s goal for undergraduate first-year enrollment for the next five years.

The MOU commits the City to:

  • Address current zoning regulations that limit the amount of student housing that can be built on the UVM campus within the institutional zoning district, including:
  • On or before March 31, 2024, the creation of an Institutional Core Campus (ICC) District specific to the 280 East Avenue Parcel.
  • On or before October 31, 2024, the creation of an ICC District specific to the Waterman Block.
  • On or before October 31, 2024, zoning amendments  that enable the construction of buildings on UVM’s Trinity Campus.


A 2009 Memorandum of Agreement between the City and UVM established mutual commitments to address concerns about the impact of student housing on residential neighborhoods in the city. Originally set to expire in 2015, the MOA was extended once but expired in 2019. Mayor Weinberger urged UVM to consider a new or amended MOA.

UVM later requested that long-discussed zoning amendments for Trinity Campus be considered, and the Trinity Campus amendments were included in the Mayor’s December 2021 Housing Action Plan. The Planning Commission considered those zoning changes beginning in early 2022, and city staff and UVM officials attended or facilitated a number of public discussions focused on UVM’s campus planning, housing, and enrollment issues, and to gather feedback on the goals for zoning on Trinity Campus. In those discussions and subsequent Commission meetings, community members expressed support for new on-campus housing and improvements to existing on-campus housing options. However, many concerns were raised about the relationship between the University’s ability to house more students on campus and its future enrollment trajectory in the absence of an MOU. The Planning Commission communicated support for more tangible housing commitments by UVM when it referred ZA-22-04 to the City Council in December 2022.

In February 2023, ZA-22-04 was tabled by Council (and per statute, will expire on December 20, 2023). UVM leadership reengaged the Administration in April about its interest in a new MOU.

Mayor’s 2021 Housing Action Plan

Mayor Weinberger has long believed that building of new student beds is a critical strategy for increasing the community’s overall housing supply and addressing the city’s housing availability crisis.  His first Housing Action Plan, in 2015, included goals (which were partially realized before the pandemic) for creating new student beds for UVM and Champlain College students. Rezoning of Trinity Campus was included in the Mayor’s 2021 Housing as a Human Right Action Plan, alongside two other zoning changes: to create the South End Innovation District (SEID) and for the Neighborhood Code. The SEID was unanimously adopted by City Council July 2023, and the Administration has submitted a slate of zoning amendments related to the Neighborhood Code to a joint committee of the City Council Ordinance Committee and Planning Commission which are currently under review.


Draft MOU Regarding Housing

Future Trends Slide: illustrates net change in UVM undergrad enrollment and beds since 2009. The potential changes depicted beyond 2023 would be enabled by the agreement and subsequent zoning changes, but not guaranteed by it.


Press Release Date: 
City Department: 
Mayor's Office