The vast majority of WWHT tenants and homeowners are local families who have lived in the area for many years—twenty years, on average. Most are working in low- or average-paying jobs, some live on low fixed incomes, while others have special needs. All are caught between a financial rock and a hard place—with few options to increase their household earnings within a stagnating regional job market, or because of limitations presented by their age, marital status or disability (e.g., elderly, young entry-level wage earner, single head-of-household, disabled, etc.).
A recent housing needs study found there is a growing gap between what is affordable to many low- and moderate-income households and what is available within the rental and homeownership markets. In fact, Vermont had the tightest rental market in the nation in 2006. Moreover, the region has experienced an accelerated split between wealthier and poorer residents in recent years, effectively narrowing housing options for an increasing number of local families and individuals.