Mayor&Rsquo;S Office

Housing Plan. COVID, Bike Path, and New North End Library 

Friends and Neighbors,

As we transition to the new year, I want to update you on several important and exciting initiatives and developments happening in our city.

Housing Plan

Recently, we announced the “Action Plan to Fulfill the Promise of Housing as a Human Right in Burlington,” a 10-point plan outlining a strategy to double the rate of housing production and end chronic homelessness in Burlington. For decades, Burlington has had a deepening housing supply crisis – we simply haven’t been building enough to keep up with the growing demand for homes in this special place. I came into office after 15 years as an affordable housing developer and determined to expand our housing efforts, and since 2012, we have built more than 1,300 homes here in Burlington including 370 permanently affordable homes. For several years rents stabilized, our extremely low vacancy rates ticked upwards, and the documented number of people living in chronic homelessness dropped significantly.

Over the last two years, though, new pressures brought on by the pandemic have overwhelmed these strides of progress. Production of new homes was slowed by the economic turmoil, demand for Burlington homes has skyrocketed, and the livelihood of thousands has been disrupted and undermined. This sudden change has laid bare just how damaging this housing crisis is.  Signs of it are all around us. The community is reeling from rent increases and home prices that further restrict who can afford to live here. The scarcity of Burlington homes has greatly increased Burlington home values, resulting in property taxes spiking for many long-time homeowners. There are huge local racial disparities in homeownership rates.  Our small businesses are facing greater labor shortages than ever in part because workers cannot afford to live here. And the number of chronically homeless Chittenden County residents has surged from as low as 35 a few years ago to over 160 now. 

Burlington must redouble its efforts to combat the housing crisis. The Action Plan is focused on  10 specific initiatives including the investment of at least $5 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds in housing initiatives, supporting the production of 1,250 total homes (including 312 permanently affordable homes) by the end of 2026, full funding of the Housing Trust Fund in fiscal year 2023, changing restrictive zoning rules to increase housing opportunities citywide, and the creation of a new Special Assistant to End Homelessness.

The path to progress, the path to making good on the promise that decent, stable housing is a human right, is to build more homes throughout not only the City, but the region. This will require accepting change and some new understanding from us all, but succeeding will make us a more sustainable, welcoming, affordable and just community.  I look forward to talking much more about housing with you in 2022.


To take precautions to protect against the contagious COVID-19 Omicron variant, the City issued a Booster Alert to drive up the rate of booster vaccines in Chittenden County. The science has become clear in recent weeks that receiving a booster substantially reduces a person’s likelihood of becoming infected by Omicron, versus having only an initial vaccine series.

As we look to 2022, and transition from the holiday season, I urge Burlingtonians to take the following steps:

  • Get a COVID-19 vaccine booster as soon as possible. This is the most impactful precaution you can take right now.
  • Test before and after gathering with vulnerable friends and family members.
  • Use a high-quality mask (N95, KN95 or KF94) when in indoor public places.


Bike Path, NNE Library

In December, after five months of major construction in Oakledge Park, we opened the final significant segment of Burlington’s eight-mile waterfront path has reopened, completing the largest and probably longest park project in the City’s history.

At the southern-most entry into Oakledge Park at Austin Drive, the area has been transformed into a true gateway into the park and pause place for visitors with seating, signage, and a kiosk planned for 2022. The Austin Drive pause place on the Burlington Bike Path is dedicated in loving memory of Alan Gottesman, who was born and raised in Burlington. Alan would have appreciated the Bike Path for the ways it makes our city more livable and environmentally friendly.  The now fully renovated Bike Path is one of the best features our City has to offer, and I hope you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy this newly opened section -- as well as the realigned section west of Union Station – of the path soon.

This month we also celebrated the grand opening of a new branch of the Fletcher Free Library in the New North End at the Ethan Allen Shopping Plaza. The Fletcher Free Library has served as a cornerstone for education, civic engagement, and community in our City for over 150 years. Today it provides Burlingtonians with access to thousands of books, digital learning resources, free internet, and countless additional programs. It is exciting that for the first time in the library’s history these resourced can now be accessed directly in the New North End.

The last two years have been among the most unpredictable and challenging years this City has ever faced.  Together we have endured them as well as any community in the country and we are well-positioned for dramatic progress in the years ahead.  It has been a great privilege to continue to serve in this role through this period and I hope you will stay in touch as we tackle the challenges of 2022.  You can contact my office directly at or at a weekly Wednesday coffee hour at 8 a.m. at the Bagel Café & Deli on North Avenue.

Thank you, and I wish you and your loved ones a safe and Happy New Year!