The Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition (VAHC) is a statewide membership organization dedicated to ensuring that all Vermonters have safe, adequate, physically accessible and affordable housing, particularly the state's low and moderate-income residents, people with disabilities, the homeless, elders, and families with children. Our further mission is to:
- Encourage resident participation and control in their housing;
- Advocate for the preservation of existing housing, protection of renters, and the development of new perpetually affordable housing;
- Promote the recognition of housing as a basic human right for all Vermonters through education of the public and elected officials; and
- Act as a catalyst for exploring and developing innovative means of preserving and increasing Vermont's affordable housing stock.
What we do
The Coalition pursues its mission through six major activities:
- Outreach and coalition-building among broad interests in the field
- Training and workshops for housing professionals
- Community education and public relations
- Research on affordable housing issues and by serving as an information clearing house
- Education, policy development and advocacy with local, state, and federal officials
- Organizing resident associations in affordable housing properties
The Coalition's 80-plus members represent most of Vermont's non-profit affordable housing developers, community land trusts, homeless shelters and service providers, public housing authorities, funding agencies, residents' associations, community action agencies, regional planners, and housing, disability and tenants' rights advocates. Together, VAHC's members provide housing and services to tens of thousands of low-income Vermonters.
State policy development
VAHC has played a central role in developing state housing policy, legislation and programs, including:
- The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board,
- The Vermont Affordable Housing Tax Credit,
- State funding for Homeless Shelters and Services and General/Emergency Assistance,
- Vermont's Landlord-Tenant Law,
- Enabling legislation for Resident-Owned Housing Cooperatives, and
- Act 252, the state's pioneering Mobile Home Law.
We have also been a leader in developing and defending long-standing principles of state housing policy, including:
- Ensuring perpetual affordability of publicly-funded housing;
- Targeting assistance to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged Vermonters;
- Preserving existing affordable housing from loss;
- Creating a community-based, non-profit delivery system; and
- Promoting mixed-income and resident controlled housing.
VAHC members led efforts to save Northgate Apartments and other large, at-risk federally subsidized housing developments. Our advocacy efforts have helped to preserve — and often increase — state funding for housing and homelessness in the face of unprecedented pressures on the state budget.
We have worked closely with numerous policy advisory groups, including the Governor's Council on Pathways from Poverty, Vermont Child Poverty Council, Vermont Council on Homelessness, Governor's Housing Council, Preservation Council, and work groups on Lead-Safe Housing, Rental Housing Code Enforcement, Offender Re-Entry and the State's General Assistance Program.
Education and outreach
The Coalition and its members bring together diverse partners to focus the attention of local, state and federal policy makers and the general public on the affordable housing needs of low and moderate income Vermonters, especially those with special needs, including very low-income families with children, the homeless, elders and people with disabilities. We were an active partner in the Vermont Housing Awareness Campaign, whose efforts have succeeded in raising public awareness of the state's acute and chronic affordable housing shortage and the need for affordable housing for all Vermonters. VAHC worked closely with the Vermont Housing Finance Agency and other state partners to help produce an annual research report, Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Housing and Wages in Vermont, which gathered key information on the housing needs of low-income Vermonters.
The Coalition is a valuable information resource for Vermont's affordable housing community through our blog, email alerts, periodic electronic newsletter and website. We convene monthly networking meetings for members to discuss federal and state policy developments, best practices, and other issues of mutual interest. The Coalition is a lead organizer for statewide and regional housing conferences and trainings. VAHC is directly involved in helping to organize residents of at-risk affordable housing and in efforts to preserve existing subsidized housing statewide. Our members are also focused on turning back the increase in homelessness among families with children and the need for various types of supportive housing for people with specialized housing needs.
Federal Policy Development
The Coalition also follows federal policy on housing and homelessness very closely, providing Vermont's Congressional delegation with feedback on the potential impacts of policy changes on low-income Vermonters. The housing community is in the midst of the most significant changes in federal housing policies in decades. Together with our national and regional partners, we are actively engaged in the struggle to prevent unprecedented budget cuts aimed primarily at low income people, and to preserve key federal housing resources amid a dramatic shift of responsibilities to state and local government.
The VAHC has been Vermont's lead agency for the New England Housing Network, a broad regional coalition of housing and community development organizations formed to respond to dramatic changes in federal housing policy. As the state partner for the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the premier national housing advocacy organization, we work with other state coalitions from across the United States to preserve and improve key federal housing programs.