Vermont has a housing crisis. We need more housing, and it’s too expensive to build new housing.
...analyst now estimate that Vermont will need an additional 35,000 to 45,000 housing units by 2030 in order to bring supply in line with demand. Vermont House Finance Agency
The crisis started during the recession. We built fewer homes in this country between 2008-2018 than any decade since the 1960s.
Then, in 2019, the pandemic hit and poured gas on an already raging fire. Since then, rents and home prices have skyrocketed. This has been driven largely by material, labor, and supply chain issues.
The crisis applies regardless of which descriptor you put before the word housing…low income, middle income, no income, affordable, single family, multi-family, rural, or urban.
However you want to talk about housing, we have a crisis.
And it’s more than just an inconvenience, the housing shortage is impacting our most vulnerable populations with the basic need for shelter...and it’s the primary constraint on economic growth.
When can't create jobs and grow businesses, our most vulnerable populations suffer the most.
No where is this more evident in Vermont than the Northeast Kingdom…one of 5 REAP Zones as defined by the USDA in the US that face outsized economic constraints.
The NEK is a region that wakes up everyday fighting for it’s economic survival, even without a housing crisis.
But where there is crisis, there is opportunity.
In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity. Albert Einstein
We have an opportunity to leverage emerging technology, our location, and our natural resources to do more than survive the housing crisis, to thrive by building an economic flywheel out of it.
We build housing today using the same means and methods we did almost 200 years ago. Construction productivity has flatlined for decades.
Meanwhile the labor force and crafts people that have supported the housing industry are nearing extinction. Have you tried to get a plumber lately?
Conventional wisdom is producing conventional results. We need to innovate.
Mass Timber Technology
We’re going to use Mass timber technology - an emerging forest economy technology where we flatten and bond smaller wood components together in layers. The results are structural panels, posts, and beams...a kit of parts.
And we’re going to design the next generation of housing to use these parts…housing that is high design, high quality, protects our environment, and is affordable across all income levels.
To make it affordable, we’ll standardize the chassis and major components of a housing unit and prefabricate them in regional mini-mills.
And we’re going to do this across single family and multi-family, affordable and middle market.
With standardization and our prefabricated kit of parts (panels, posts, and beams) we can reduce complexity, speed up the assembly process, and lower the labor requirement. Ultimately, lowering the cost.
This housing will be built using local timber, a regenerative natural resource that sequesters carbon.
By standardizing the design of the chassis and major components we can spec smart energy use into the product and make macro decisions at the program level to save our planet.
The timber is coming from our local forest economy where we’ll create jobs to manufacture the panels, posts, and beams.
We’re going to create more jobs by developing prefabricated kits that can be shipped to site and assembled by our local trades people.
So we’re going to use mass timber technology…to build next generation housing…housing we can afford and housing that protects our environment…while creating forest economy jobs…to start an economic flywheel in the Northeast Kingdom.
We have a housing crisis. But more importantly, we have a generational housing opportunity. When opportunity meets timing, we should seize it.
Are you interested in housing or mass timber and want to get involved? We need help. If you can contribute, let's have a conversation. Shoot us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org