By Guy Page
As reported Monday in Headliners, a major cause of homelessness in Vermont and nationwide is the skyrocketing cost of housing.
Nowhere has the consumer cost of housing grown more quickly than in Colorado – 57 percent over the previous high in home values. An estimated 25 percent of all Colorado renters are at risk of homelessness. Colorado realtors say “the biggest driver of our housing market stemmed from the legalization of marijuana.”
This excerpt from an October, 2017 article/interview with Colorado Association of Realtors spokesperson Kelly Moye explains why:
“In fact, home sales rose from 96,067 in 2013 to 107,246 in 2015 and the median price went from $187,900 in 2011 to $325,000 for the first nine months of this year. ‘There are a lot of people who are moving here to work in that industry who may not have moved here otherwise,’ Moye said. ‘And all of a sudden, we have a significant low supply and high demand issue, which pushes prices up, our supply and demand has really taken a crazy turn in the last five years for lots of reasons, legal marijuana being one of them.’
“The legalization of marijuana has caused an increase in population in the state of Colorado which then caused the influx in our real estate market. People flocked to Colorado to either work in the marijuana industry or to gain access to marijuana itself. Due to this increase in population, rent prices rose which pushed more people to consider buying property rather than renting. Moye discusses how this increase of population and rental prices caused an influx in the housing market: ‘So those people who are renting and working in the marijuana industry cause the people who are not to go out and buy, which then fuels our housing market.’
“We can conclude that the legalization of marijuana has caused an influx in our housing market, but there are other factors to consider. Google and Amazon have also added to the increase of competition for housing and we cannot forget the beauty of Colorado that drives people to want to live here. However, it appears that the biggest driver of our housing market stemmed from the legalization of marijuana.”
Some Vermonters — particularly home sellers and their commission-based realtors — may think an increase in the cost of housing is a good thing. Others, including renters and home buyers, fear it will price them out of the market, leaving them in unsatisfactory housing, or with no housing at all.
Knowing all of this, Vermont legislators might still vote to commercialize marijuana. When record numbers of Vermonters become homeless due to unaffordable housing, lawmakers can’t say they weren’t warned.
Speaking of the Legislature, party caucuses in both the House and Senate have been busy picking leaders this month. Senate Democrats chose Becca Balint (Windham) as majority leader and Mark MacDonald (Orange) as assistant leader or “whip.” Tim Ashe (Chittenden) is expected to be re-elected as Senate Pro Tem. Senate Republicans chose Joe Benning (Caledonia) as minority leader and Brian Collamore as (Rutland) as whip. In the House, Republicans elected Pattie McCoy (Poultney) as minority leader and Rob LaClair (Barre Town) as whip. House Democrats will hold caucus elections Saturday morning at the Statehouse.
Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.