Statement Of Senator Leahy At The Groundbreaking Ceremony Of Thayer Commons In Burlington

Remarks As Prepared For Delivery

Thank you Nancy, for that kind introduction.  There’s a long list of others who deserve our thanks today – Nancy Owens, Amy Wright, Gus Seelig, Polly Nichols, Brenda Torpy … and the list goes on. 

I want to especially thank Mayor Kiss and his administration for supporting this project.  And of course Representative Mark Larson. 

An affordable housing accomplishment like this doesn’t happen by accident, and I’m so proud to have been part of the superb team that is making it a reality.  Thayer Commons is a great example of a mixed income, smart growth, green project that tackles real, everyday, practical needs for affordable and senior housing while keeping at its core sound community development principles. 

These homes will address a full continuum of Vermonters’ housing needs -- from young families just starting out, to families with particular difficulties finding homes, to seniors looking for a place to age comfortably.  Best of all, this development is taking root and blossoming in a great neighborhood – where there is a grocery store, a pharmacy, a post office and much more all within walking distance.

I was invited here today primarily because I steered a $433,000 earmark to this project – but that earmark is just one piece of the federal government’s role in this project.  The HOME program, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, HUD’s 202 program, the Community Development Block Grant program….all these programs have two things in common – they were used in this project, and they are on the chopping block on Capitol Hill.

I’ll do what I can to protect these funding programs in difficult budgetary times because I believe that ensuring that families in Vermont and other communities can find affordable places where they can live their lives is a fundamental federal responsibility. 

I also believe that affordable housing is a central ingredient for a healthy economic environment.  The laws of supply and demand don’t always take into account basic human needs.  Especially here in Vermont – where we have a paradoxical housing climate compared to other corners of the nation.  Our wages are lower than most other states and our housing costs are higher.  If workers can’t find affordable homes, then businesses can’t find workers. 

There are few better examples of our federal tax dollars at work to make life better for people, neighborhoods and communities than right here at Thayer Commons.  I thank you all for what you are doing for Vermont – and for giving me one more “Exhibit A” about federal housing programs at work, as I continue to make the case on Capitol Hill for affordable housing as the budget priority that the American people deserve it to be.

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