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REMINDER: VHCC Legislative Day, Friday, February 9

Posted February 7, 2018

VHCC Legislative Day
Friday, February 9, 2018


The Vermont Housing and Conservation Coalition Legislative Day is  the day for housing and conservation supporters to champion the projects and values supported by Vermont Housing & Conservation Board funding.



Come to the Vermont Statehouse and connect directly with your legislators and your colleagues and others who care about housing and conservation.

Enjoy a Farmers’ Breakfast in the morning and our Ice Cream Social in the afternoon. In between, attend a hearing, meet your legislators, and hear from policy makers.

Find a general agenda and information about traveling to the Statehouse here:



Friday, February 9, 2018
7:30am – 3pm – come for as much of the day as you can!

If you plan to attend please do two things!

  1. Please register, so we know you are coming! We’ll have packets and nametags for attendees.
  2. Contact your legislators to let them know you will be in the building on Feb. 9th and would like to meet up.

Contact Legislators

Hope to see you on February 9th!

Vermont Housing and Conservation Coalition
Elise Annes, Vermont Land Trust
Chris Donnelly, Champlain Housing Trust
Phil Huffman, The Nature Conservancy
Kenn Sassorossi, Housing Vermont


REMINDER: Homelessness Awareness Day & Memorial Vigil – Jan 10, State House, Montpelier

Posted January 9, 2018




Your voice is needed at the State Capitol! Come to Montpelier to tell lawmakers how we can end homelessness in Vermont! Join advocates from all across the state at Homelessness Awareness Day at the State House.  We need you to engage with representatives and senators in your service area to let them know what is needed to make homelessness a brief and infrequent experience in our state. PLEASE JOIN US!


7:30 – 9:00        Coffee, muffins & meetings with legislators, Cafeteria (best time to meet with lawmakers)

7:30 – 3:00        Legislative Awareness Day (meet & greet lawmakers), Card Room

9:00 – 11:00      Joint hearing of House Human Services and General, Housing & Military Affairs Committees – Room 11

11:00 – 11:30     Senate Economic Development, Housing & General Affairs Committee – Room 27

12:00 – 12:30    Memorial Vigil, State House Steps

1:00 – 1:30        Reading of Legislative Resolution & Recognition of Homeless Service Providers & Advocates, House Gallery

1:30 – 2:30        Public Hearing on the Governor’s Recommended FY 2018 Budget Adjustment, House Appropriations Committee – Room 10



  • We thank Governor Scott and lawmakers for supporting all the state resources needed to help reduce homelessness, especially the $35 million housing bond, which is a *major* step forward.
  • Please continue to support the investments we need to solve our affordable housing shortage and implement the recommendations of the “Roadmap to End Homelessness,” investments that will:
    1. Create new affordable homes for Vermonters,
    2. Provide rental assistance and other financial supports to fill the gap between our high rents and what low-income Vermonters can afford, and
    3. Deliver supportive services needed for Vermonters with the greatest challenges to remain stably housed.
  • Vermont has successful programs that deliver proven outcomes. Please continue to support full funding for the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, and increased investments in the Vermont Rental Subsidy Program, Mental Health Rental Assistance Vouchers, Family Supportive Housing, Housing Opportunity Grant Program, Corrections Transitional Housing, and Housing First.


The day will kick off early at 7:30am with coffee and muffins in the Cafeteria. This will be a great time to meet with your representatives and senators to discuss the good work you and your organization are doing.  To make your time at the State House most effective, please be sure to reach out to lawmakers prior to the event to ask them to meet with you.

People will be present in the Card Room all morning and into the afternoon to educate lawmakers about the work being done around the state, about which strategies are working, and what still needs to be done to help end homelessness in Vermont. The Card Room is on the 2nd floor, on the way into the cafeteria.

From 9-11am there will be a joint hearing of the House General, Housing & Military Affairs and House Human Services Committees in Room 11, with many witnesses from the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness and the Chittenden Homeless Alliance scheduled to speak. Click here for the schedule of witnesses.

From 11-11:30am there will be additional testimony on homelessness in the Senate Economic Development, Housing & General Affairs Committee. You may also be interested to sit in on testimony in this committee from several key housing agency heads (DHCD, VHCB, VHFA) starting at 9am. Click here for the schedule of witnesses.

At Noon community members, elected officials, and advocates will gather on the State House steps for the annual Memorial Vigil to remember our friends and neighbors who have died without homes, and to bring awareness of the struggles of those still searching for safe, affordable and secure housing.

At 1:00pm, please be seated in the House Visitor’s Gallery at the rear of the House Chamber to hear the reading of a resolution recognizing those experiencing homelessness and the good work you do to help reduce their plight.

**ALERT** At 1:30pm the House Appropriations Committee will hold a Public Hearing on the Governor’s Recommended FY 2018 Budget Adjustment in Room 10.  DCF has proposed a $200,000 cut to the highly successful Vermont Rental Subsidy Program.  Please contact committee staff person Theresa Utton-Jerman at or 802-828-5767 to speak against this cut.  Please also support DCF’s request to increase the Emergency Housing budget by $871,000.  Click here for more information, or contact Erhard Mahnke at or 233-2902.



Strong Turn-Out Will Be Key – It is essential that we create a strong presence in the State House. Bring folks from your organization: board members, clients, staff, and local supporters. A strong show of support will be particularly important for the Memorial Vigil at 12 noon outside, on the State House steps, and also at 1pm in the House Chamber when your work will be recognized by the entire body.

Meetings with Lawmakers – Quality interactions with representatives and senators from your service area are critical to the day’s success. One-on-one or small group meetings are the best way to get our message across. To guarantee the most effective use of your time, please make appointments in advance, if possible. If you haven’t done so already, please CALL or EMAIL as soon as possible. Breakfast and after the Vigil at lunch are the best times to schedule your meetings.

How to Contact Your Representatives & Senators – Send them an email or call the Sergeant-at-Arms desk at 1-800-322-5616 and leave a message. Let them know that you’ll be at the State House this Wednesday and would like to meet. Their contact information is in the legislative directory.  If you can’t get an appointment ahead of time, let them know when you’ll be at the State House. If you can’t find them when you arrive, you can send a note via a legislative page. Be sure to note where you are in the State House.

An Exciting Day is Planned – Governor Phil Scott, Lt. Governor David Zuckerman, House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, Human Services Secretary Al Gobeille, and the chairs of key legislative committees, Reps. Helen Head and Ann Pugh and Senator Michael Sirotkin, are all confirmed to speak at the Vigil.  And there are numerous committee meetings for you to sit in on.

Sign in and get a nametag when you arrive – They will be available in the Card Room (second floor, on the way into the cafeteria). Legislators appreciate name tags with your name, your organization and the town you vote in.

Parking – Is always a challenge in Montpelier. You can try on-street parking wherever you can find it. Other options include the Capitol Plaza lot off State Street, the Department of Labor parking lot on Green Mountain Drive (second left after you come off the interstate, just past the first traffic light). Also, the Capitol Shuttle runs every 20 minutes from 7:20 am – 5:20 pm. Do not park in areas designated for legislative parking – you will be towed!

*   *   *   *   *

**A FINAL NOTE** The monthly Affordable Housing Coalition meeting normally scheduled for this Wednesday has been rescheduled for Wednesday, January 24, 9:30 – 12:00, at the Vermont Center for Independent Living, 11 East State Street.  The meeting time has been extended to include a special legislative advocacy training by Matt Levin of the Vermont Early Childhood Alliance.

Thanks for your help and cooperation and see you at the State House on Wednesday!


Joshua Davis
Groundworks Collaborative
Co-Chair, VT Coalition to End Homelessness

Peter Kellerman
John Graham Housing & Services
Co-Chair, VT Coalition to End Homelessness

Erhard Mahnke
Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition


Homelessness Awareness Day – Jan 10, 2018

Posted December 21, 2017




Dear Coalition Members and Friends,

Every year in January concerned citizens and housing and homeless service providers from across Vermont gather at the State House in Montpelier for a day to engage their representatives and senators and to renew the commitment to end homelessness in our state. This year, the annual Homelessness Awareness Day and Memorial Vigil will take place on Wednesday, January 10th, 2018. Please join us!

7:30 – 9:00am           Coffee & muffins, Cafeteria
7:30am – 2:30pm       Legislative Awareness Day, Card Room
9:00 – 12 noon           Committee testimony
12 noon                      Memorial Vigil & Speak-Out, State House Steps
1:00pm                      Reading of Legislative Resolution, House Gallery

The day will kick off early at 7:30am with coffee and muffins in the Cafeteria. This will be a great time to meet with your representatives and senators to discuss the good work you and your organization are doing.  To make your time at the state house most effective, please be sure to reach out to lawmakers prior to the event to ask them to meet with you.

People will be present in the Card Room all morning and into the afternoon to educate lawmakers about the work being done around the state, about which strategies are working, and what still needs to be done to help end homelessness in Vermont.

At Noon community members, elected officials, and advocates will take to the State House steps for the annual Memorial Vigil to remember our friends and neighbors who have died without homes, and to bring awareness of the struggles of those still searching for safe, affordable and secure housing.

At 1:00pm, please gather in the House Gallery to hear the reading of a resolution recognizing those experiencing homelessness and the work being done by homeless service providers and advocates.

For more information, contact Peter Kellerman at, Josh Davis at, or Erhard Mahnke at erhardm@vtaffordablehousing.  Click here for the event flyer.

All the best for the holidays and hope to see you at the State House on January 10!



House and Senate Tax Bills Will Decimate Affordable Housing in Vermont

Posted December 1, 2017

MONTPELIER, VT — The Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition (VAHC), a state leader in housing policy, research and advocacy, today issued the following statement on the tax bill recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and under consideration in the Senate:

At a time when Vermont already has a shortage of 10,866 affordable homes for extremely low income renters and the 5th highest affordability gap for renters in the country, the pending tax proposals would eliminate tax credits and financing tools that have helped create thousands of affordable apartments  in our state and made homeownership more affordable for thousands of Vermonters.

“Vermont already has an affordable housing crisis, but these bills would make it a catastrophe.  Without the tax credits and bonds that the House bill eliminates, thousands of affordable homes will not be built, and more Vermonters will be left homeless or stuck in homes they cannot afford,” said Ted Wimpey, VAHC Steering Committee Chair and Director of CVOEO’s Fair Housing Project.  “The Senate proposal is more favorable but would still substantially reduce affordable rental housing production at a time when the need is so acute.  If either of these tax bills becomes law, it will put families out on the streets and irreparably harm Vermont communities.”

Overall, Vermont could lose an estimated $15 million in housing investments every year – losses that not only directly affect Coalition members’ ability to create affordable housing for low-income and vulnerable Vermonters, but also the amount of construction and real estate activity that the state relies on to help stimulate economic development, create good-paying jobs, and improve our communities.

“We are thankful that our entire congressional delegation strongly opposes these unbelievably harmful bills and hope that they do not become law, especially those provisions that are so damaging to affordable housing,” noted VAHC Coordinator Erhard Mahnke.  “We need real tax reform that helps address our housing crisis and protects struggling low- and moderate-income people.”


  • Significantly weakens the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, the nation’s largest affordable rental housing development resource. The Housing Credit is a successful public-private partnership that has become the foundation for affordable housing development across Vermont and New England. While the credit itself is retained, it would be significantly weakened due to the proposed reduction in the corporate tax. With the value of depreciation expense and interest deductions reduced, the value of the Housing Credit would drop, greatly reducing private investment in low income housing. The tax proposal contains no changes to the credit that would help address this impact.
    • The Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) estimates the state would lose $5-6 million in private investments annually as a result. Last year the Housing Credit generated $30 million in private, up-front equity for construction, acquisition and renovation of affordable housing across the state.  In recent years, the credit has helped fund an annual average of 300 rental homes.
  • Eliminates the tax exemption on Private Activity Bonds, including multifamily and homeownership housing bonds. This tax exemption allows bond-financed multifamily projects to access ‘4% Housing Credits,’ which have helped produce or preserve tens of thousands of affordable homes in New England. Developments financed with 4% Credits often serve households with extremely low incomes, and have also been used on mixed-income developments that meet demand for market rate housing.
    • 4% Housing Credits are used with tax-exempt bond financing to fund approximately 1,200 affordable rentals over the last seven years. If this provision becomes law, Vermont could lose another $6-7 million in housing investments every year and see the annual number of rental homes financed potentially cut in half.
    • Tax-exempt Mortgage Revenue Bonds finance almost half of VHFA’s safe, low-cost mortgages to first-time homebuyers and would be eliminated under the House bill.
    • Mortgage Credit Certificates would no longer be available to assist eligible home buyers.
  • Eliminates the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit, which is a vital tool in the creation and preservation of affordable housing in historic buildings. Historic Tax Credits (HTCs) have had an enormous impact on our communities, attracting developers to invest in vacant, deteriorated, and underutilized structures.  In Vermont, HTCs are primarily used to help fund affordable housing, whether in large old mixed-use buildings in downtowns, or multiple buildings in scattered site developments.  Without them, many new projects would never take place because they wouldn’t be financially feasible.  If HTC’s are eliminated, it will have a devastating impact on our ability to develop affordable housing in the places where it makes the most sense – our downtowns, where low and moderate income Vermonters are close to goods, services and supports and can spend less on transportation.
    • In 2017, $1.8 million in HTCs leveraged $11.8 million in total investments to help fund 65 homes in redeveloped buildings in Bennington, Brattleboro, Burlington, Fair Haven, Montpelier and Stowe.
    • From 2012 – 2017, $24 million in HTCs helped fund 643 homes in 68 projects, serving 25 Vermont communities and generating $145 million in total private investment.
  • Eliminates the New Markets Tax Credit, a key resource for community revitalization efforts in economically distressed areas. Housing and community development investments work together in revitalizing neighborhoods and improving local economies.  Neither investment can do it alone.
    • Housing Vermont’s tax credit program has used over $123 million in financing for 15 projects that invest in the economic, environmental, and social well-being of Vermont communities.
    • The many projects financed include the Enosburg Health Center, the Brooks House and Commonwealth Dairy in Brattleboro, Barre’s City Place, and Burlington’s King Street Youth Center.
  • Reforms the Mortgage Interest Deduction, which has been a long-standing priority for housing advocates and would ordinarily be a major step in the right direction. Unfortunately, instead of using the savings from this reform to better target spending on housing solutions for those with the greatest needs, the House bill funnels these and other savings to pay for highly regressive tax cuts for the richest households and corporations.
  • Increases the federal debt by $1.5 trillion over a decade, a move likely to lead to deep spending cuts to affordable housing and community development, not to mention Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Unfunded tax cuts will only add pressure on Congress to enact massive budget cuts at the expense of millions of families who benefit from federal investments that help them meet basic needs.
  • Threatens to dramatically reduce charitable giving, which will have an enormous impact on all nonprofits, including Coalition members who develop affordable housing and provide a broad array of services to low-income Vermonters and those with special needs. According to Urban Institute estimates, Vermonters’ pro-rata loss in charitable gift deductions could be as much as $136 million.  Community organizations like the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS), which rely heavily on individual and business contributions, could immediately feel the impact of a tax bill that no longer incentivizes middle income Americans to contribute locally.


  • Is more favorable to affordable housing than the House bill, because it preserves Private Activity Bonds, retains both the New Market and Historic Preservation Tax Credits, and adds a number of no-cost enhancements to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit. Nonetheless, its impact on the equity raised by the Housing Credit is the same as the House bill, so it would still severely reduce affordable rental housing production at a time when Vermont and most of the nation continue to be gripped by an acute affordable housing crisis.  National tax experts Novogradac & Co. estimate that, over ten years, the Senate tax bill – which is still undergoing changes – would reduce the future supply of affordable rental housing by nearly 300,000 homes nationally and that Vermont could lose:
    • 650 rental homes,
    • 740 jobs,
    • $62,089,000 in business income, and
    • $23,881,000 million in federal, state and local taxes. 


The Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition is a statewide membership organization dedicated to ensuring that all Vermonters have decent, safe and affordable housing, particularly the state’s low and moderate-income residents, elders, people living with homelessness, and people with disabilities.
For more information, visit




Posted October 31, 2017

VT Housing & Conservation Board
Manager of Federal Housing Programs
A s a member of the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB) housing team, the Manager of Federal Housing Programs is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day administration of the HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME), the National Housing Trust Fund (HTF), Housing for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA), and any other federal housing related programs, and for applications for continued funding for those programs. He/she leads the process for the development of annual allocation plans, all federal reporting, monitoring of recipients of federal awards, and ensuring that all awards are made and records are kept in compliance with all relevant federal rules and regulations. The Manager acts as a liaison between VHCB and federal housing funders. This position supervises the Federal Housing Programs Coordinator and Assistant positions.

Qualifications: The Manager of Federal Housing Programs should be familiar with federal housing policy and regulations as well as an understanding of the role of non-profits in an affordable housing delivery system. Experience working with non-profit organizations, state and federal agencies, and federally funded housing programs is important. Other qualifications include experience supervising staff and building and maintaining relationships with state and federal partners; experience managing a database and strong spreadsheet skills; writing and communication skills, ability to meet deadlines, attention to details, and the ability to be flexible and innovative, as appropriate. Familiarity with the principles of affordable housing finance a plus.

Comprehensive benefit package included.  Position requires occasional travel. Equal Opportunity Employer. Read the job description.

To Apply: Email letter of interest and resume to Laurie Graves,, by November 8, 2017.

VT State Housing Authority
Section 8 Field Representative

Vermont State Housing Authority (VSHA) needs a professional individual to handle all field operations for Section 8/McKinney funded housing rental programs in Rutland County. Work with clients, landlords, community organizations; mediate issues; administer & enforce contracts with property owners; perform annual reexaminations of tenants & inspections of units under the program. Individual will be home-based & must reside in Rutland County. Extensive driving required. Cover letter and resume to: HR, VSHA, 1 Prospect St., Montpelier, VT 05602-3556. VSHA is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Full Job Description (pdf).

VT Housing Finance Agency
Development Underwriter

The Development Underwriter is responsible for comprehensive analysis of prospective multifamily housing and single family developments being considered for VHFA financing, tax credits, and other financing and special initiatives; underwrites Housing Credit applications and assists in the development of loan and Housing Credit policies and procedures and the administration of Federal and State Housing Credit Programs; assists the Director of Development in the administration of Development programs; serves as a high level resource for pertinent research and training of federal regulations, VHFA statutory requirements, and Multifamily rules and underwriting guidelines. The position will remain open until filled. Learn more about this position on the VHFA website.


FINAL REMINDER: VAHC/VCEH annual meetings TOMORROW – 9:30am, Randolph

Posted September 12, 2017

Dear Coalition Members and Friends,

This is a final reminder for TOMORROW’S Annual Joint Meeting of the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition and the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness, our networking lunch, and concurrent VAHC Annual Meeting and VCEH monthly meeting:

Wednesday, September 13, 2017
9:30 AM – 2:00 PM
Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church
43 Hebard Hill Rd, Randolph, VT

Here is a link to the Final Agenda for all three meetings.

All our special guests are CONFIRMED:

  • Governor Phil Scott
  • House Speaker Mitzi Johnson
  • Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe
  • Representatives from all three of Vermont’s congressional offices

I hope you or someone from your organization can attend this important annual get-together!! 


  • Take I-89 to Exit 4 and head toward Randolph
    (right off south bound exit ramp, left off north bound ramp)
  • Follow Route 66 for about a half mile to Hebard Hill Road on your right
  • Our Lady of the Angels is on the corner on the right

Please note, we will *not* be offering our usual call-in option for this meeting.

Hope to see you tomorrow in Randolph!



REMINDER: VAHC/VCEH annual meetings – 9/13 Randolph – VIP guests confirmed

Posted September 7, 2017

Dear Coalition Members and Friends,

This is a quick reminder for next Wednesday’s Annual Joint Meeting of the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition and the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness.  After lunch, the VAHC Annual Meeting and the VCEH monthly meeting will be held concurrently at the same location:

Wednesday, September 13, 2017
9:30 AM – 2:00 PM
Our Lady of the Angels Church
43 Hebard Hill Rd, Randolph, VT
(Directions below)

I hope you or someone from your organization can attend!!  We have some very special guests and exciting agenda items confirmed:

  • Governor Phil Scott (confirmed for 11:15)
  • Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe (confirmed for 10:10)
  • House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (confirmed for 9:40)
  • Representatives from our congressional offices will provide the latest updates from DC
  • Networking Lunch (at 12 noon, $5 donation requested)
  • VAHC Annual Meeting (12:45 – 2:00) & VCEH Monthly Meeting (12:45 – 2:00)

A detailed agenda for the meetings and background materials will go out as soon as they are finalized.

The Coalition by-laws allow for up to nine people to serve on the Steering Committee.  We are fortunate to have six current members willing to continue serving.  As a result, there are up to three potential vacancies on the Steering Committee.  We are fortunate to have Anna Herman from the Champlain Housing Trust willing to serve.  That leaves another two potential seats open.  Steering Committee members are reaching out to other potential candidates and may have additional nominees by next Wednesday.  The by-laws also permit nominations from the floor and call for direct election of officers by the membership.

Until further interested candidates emerge, the Steering Committee recommends that members elect the following slate:

  • Ted Wimpey, Chair & Director, CVOEO Fair Housing Project
  • Sara Kobylenski, Treasurer & Executive Director, Upper Valley Haven
  • Cindy Reid, Secretary & Director of Development, Cathedral Square Corporation
  • Ray Brewster, At Large Member & Independent Consultant
  • Alison Friedkin, At Large Member & Director of Real Estate Development, Downstreet Housing & Community Development
  • Patricia Tedesco, At Large Member & Home Access Program Coordinator, Vermont Center for Independent Living
  • Anna Herman, At Large Member & Community Relations Specialist, Champlain Housing Trust

Click here for current and proposed Steering Committee bios.


  • Take I-89 to Exit 4 and head toward Randolph
    (right off south bound exit ramp, left off north bound ramp)
  • Follow Route 66 for about a half mile to Hebard Hill Road on your right
  • Our Lady of the Angels is on the corner on the right

We will *not* be offering our usual call-in option for this meeting.

Hope to see you next Wednesday!

Erhard Mahnke
VT Affordable Housing Coalition
802-660-9484 (wk) | 802-233-2902 (cell)


Joint VAHC & VCEH Meeting, VAHC Annual Meeting & VCEH Monthly Meeting – Wednesday, Sept 13, Randolph, VT

Posted August 31, 2017


The Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition’s annual joint meeting with the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness (VCEH), our own Annual Meeting, and the VCEH’s monthly meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 13 from 9:30 – 2:00 at Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church, 43 Hebard Hill Road, Randolph, VT.

The agenda is still being finalized, but Governor Phil Scott and House Speaker Mitzi Johnson are confirmed to meet with us! We also look forward to a DC report from congressional staff and await confirmation from other invited legislative leaders.

The joint meeting will conclude with a networking lunch, followed by the VAHC Annual Meeting and the VCEH monthly meeting, meeting simultaneously at the church.  Here is the overall agenda for the day:

  9:30 – 12:00       VAHC & VCEH Joint Meeting
12:00 – 12:45       Networking Lunch
12:45 – 2:00         VAHC Annual Meeting & VCEH Monthly Meeting

We’ll send out the full, detailed agenda, location and background materials as soon as they are finalized.

Hope to see you on the 13th!


Erhard Mahnke: Cambrian Rise will ease housing shortage

Posted August 21, 2017

Safe, stable and affordable housing is essential for a community to thrive economically, socially and culturally. Vermont continues to struggle with housing affordability, and unfortunately the state’s largest city of Burlington is no exception. A Burlington resident needs to earn over $26 an hour to afford the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment – that’s more than $5 per hour above the national average. This is troubling and we hear about the ramifications from families and seniors who can’t find places to live, from young people who are choosing to leave the state for more affordable areas, from agencies serving the homeless, and from our employers who struggle to find qualified employees due to the high cost of housing.

There are several components to addressing the issue of affordable housing, and one of the most critical is the need for capital investment to build new housing and to renovate existing properties. While many additional homes have been built over the past several years, many more are needed to accommodate the growth of 2,375 new households projected for Chittenden County by 2020. Current production is being absorbed into the market quickly, and the long-term vacancy rate for rentals still hovers between 1 and 2 percent, putting supply and demand out of whack. Not surprisingly, according to Census data over half of Chittenden County renters are “cost-burdened,” meaning they pay too much of their income for housing, leaving them without enough for other basic necessities.

In terms of affordable housing, last month the Champlain Housing Trust had just five vacancies among their 2,000 plus apartments, and only one vacancy in Chittenden County. Cathedral Square Corp. had over 800 seniors and people with special needs on its waiting list looking to move into affordable housing. Furthermore, the effective vacancy rate for subsidized rentals in Chittenden County was literally zero percent for all bedroom sizes. These shocking numbers help explain why the Burlington Housing Authority typically measures their waiting list in years rather than weeks or even months.

These numbers are astonishing, but the good news is that there are clear steps we can take to address the cost of housing. No one project will be the panacea for Burlington’s affordable housing crisis, but developments like the proposed Cambrian Rise project in Burlington’s North End can significantly improve housing options for residents and relieve the pressure on a strained system. As proposed, Cambrian Rise will be a 739-apartment mixed-income housing neighborhood with an impressive number of affordable homes. The neighborhood will offer Burlington residents housing options for all income levels.

Under Burlington’s inclusionary zoning ordinance, the development will include 128 affordable rentals for families and seniors with household incomes of less than 65 percent of the Chittenden County median income. In English that translates into housing that is affordable for a one-person household making $37,500, or $53,600 for a family of four. However, with federal, state and local dollars available to Champlain Housing Trust and Cathedral Square, which are partnering to help create Cambrian Rise, many apartments will be even more affordable. Furthermore, another 60 homes will be affordable to homebuyers earning below 75 to 80 percent of median income, or below at most $46,150 for a single individual and $65,900 for a family of four. In all, the development will offer 188 permanently affordable homes to low-income Vermonters. In addition, Cambrian Rise will offer “workforce housing” for sale and rent targeted to more moderate income people up to 120 percent of the median income. Our working families, our seniors and people with disabilities, and our employers desperately need these new homes.

Cambrian Rise not only offers a diverse neighborhood, it is also a model for sustainable development. The project features alternative transportation options, energy efficiency, a state-of-the art stormwater system to protect the lake, and a conserved 12-acre public park – giving us continuous public access to Lake Champlain from Perkins Pier to North Beach. Convenient access to the bike path, car share opportunities, and a heated bus terminal for year-round use will ease the financial burden for residents of the neighborhood. This mixed-use development is a model for the future, where diverse residents of all income levels, abilities and ages can live, work and play in one neighborhood.

This Op-Ed was posted on on 8/20/17.


Vermont Lawmakers Unanimously Approve Rescission Plan

Posted August 18, 2017

Ever since the revenue state downgrade announced at the last Joint Fiscal Committee meeting last month, there has been concern about $12M in anticipated rescissions, which the Administration made public this week, ahead of Thursday’s Joint Fiscal Committee meeting and public hearing.

Despite these earlier concerns, it would appear that there is nothing to worry about. The administration largely was able to make up the budget shortfall prior to the rescission process.

The only reductions to AHS programs come in the area of health care: $1.6M in “Outpatient Prospective Payment reduction,” and $4.5M in “Medicaid Consensus Forecast reduction.”  There is clearly nothing that affects housing or any of the programs we rely on to combat homelessness.

Read more from VT Digger.


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