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HUD, VA Provides Permanent Housing and Support to Homeless Vets in Vermont

Posted March 28, 2012

Re-Posted from the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness.

Latest estimate shows national veterans homelessness fell by nearly 12 percent

BOSTON – U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki announced today that HUD will provide $153,036 to Vermont State Housing Authority to supply permanent housing and case management for more than 25 homeless veterans in Vermont [in addition to the current 95 VASH vouchers administered by the VT State Housing Authority in Vermont].

VA Medical Center               Public Housing Authority        Vouchers        12-month rental assistance
White River Junction            Vermont State Housing                25                 $153,036

The permanent supportive housing assistance announced today is provided through HUD’s Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH), a program administered by HUD, VA, and local housing agencies across the country.  Read a complete local breakdown of the rental vouchers announced today.

“It’s a national disgrace that one out of every six men and women in our shelters once wore a uniform to serve our country,” said HUD Secretary Donovan. “But we know that by providing housing assistance and case management services, we can significantly reduce the number of veterans living on our streets.  Working together, HUD, VA and local housing agencies are making real progress toward ending veteran homelessness once and for all.”

“Under the leadership of President Obama, we have made significant progress in the fight to end homelessness among veterans, but more work remains,” said VA Secretary Shinseki. “The partnership between the federal government and community agencies across the country has strengthened all of our efforts to honor our veterans and keep us on track to prevent and eliminate veteran homelessness by 2015.”

This funding to local housing agencies is part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to end Veteran and long-term chronic homelessness by 2015.  Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness serves as a roadmap for how the federal government will work with
state and local agreements to confront the root causes of homelessness, especially among former servicemen and women.

The grants announced today are part of $75 million appropriated for Fiscal Year 2012 to support the housing needs of approximately 10,500 homeless veterans.  VA Medical Centers (VAMC) provide supportive services and case management to eligible homeless veterans. This is the first of two rounds of the 2012 HUD-VASH funding.  HUD expects to announce the remaining funding by the end of this summer.

VAMCs work closely with homeless veterans then refer them to public housing agencies for these vouchers, based upon a variety of factors, most importantly the duration of the homelessness and the need for longer term more intensive support to obtain and maintain permanent housing.  The HUD-VASH program includes both the rental assistance the voucher provides and the comprehensive case management that VAMC staff provides.

Veterans participating in the HUD-VASH program rent privately owned housing and generally contribute no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent.  VA offers eligible homeless veterans clinical and supportive services through its medical centers across the U.S., Guam and Puerto Rico.

HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. More information about HUD and its programs is available at and  You can also follow HUD on twitter @HUDnews, on facebook at, or sign up for news alerts on HUD’s News Listserv.
VA is the federal government’s second-largest cabinet office.  Secretary Shinseki has outlined three key priorities for the department: increase Veteran access to VA services and benefits, eliminate the disability claims backlog, and end Veteran homelessness.  More information about VA is available at



This Land Is Your Land: Mobile-home owners find cooperatives the way to roll

Posted March 22, 2012

SEVEN DAYS – Paul Heintz

March 7, 2012


For years, Henry Benedict and his neighbors battled the owner of the Swanton mobile-home park where they live. They fought over rent increases. They fought over water and sewage fees. They fought over maintenance issues.

Then, one day last May, Benedict and the 26 other families who live in the Homestead Acres mobile-home park received letters in the mail saying the owner was putting the 50-acre property up for sale. So they did something crazy: They formed a co-op and bought the place themselves.

“Everything happened real fast for us,” says Benedict, who works for the town of Highgate’s recreation department. “There was no time to think about it.”

When the newly named Homestead Acres Cooperative closed on the property in December, it joined the leading edge of a national movement to empower mobile-home residents by helping them buy the properties on which they live. Last month, a mobile-home park in Milton joined Homestead Acres and a park in Windsor to become the third cooperatively owned park established in Vermont in recent years.

The emerging trend is a significant development for the nearly 7000 Vermont families who live in mobile-home parks. While 80 percent of them own their dwellings, 70 percent live in for-profit parks where they have little leverage over the rent they pay for their lots. Despite the name, mobile-homes aren’t all that cheap or easy to move, so when rent goes up or the park changes hands, residents are left hoping for the best.

“We’re kind of stuck here,” says Benedict, sitting on a recliner in the living room of the 14-by-80-foot home he purchased a decade ago. “If you live in a trailer, you can’t just pick up and move.”

Link to Full Seven Days Article

This Land Is Your Land


Mobile Home Advocates Push For Easier Funding


VPR News – Steve Zind

(Host) More than 100 mobile homes were destroyed in the Irene floods last year.

For those who need to borrow money to replace them, the mortgage market is an obstacle because the terms and eligibility requirements are different than they are for other homebuyers.

Advocates in Vermont have been working on a new loan program they hope will pave the way for a better financing model.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) For mobile home owners, it’s always been more difficult to get a loan compared to regular homebuyers.

Emily Higgins is Director of Home Ownership at Champlain Housing Trust.

(Higgins) “Many financing options have a very high interest rate of perhaps 11 percent and a loan to value requirement that people put 35 percent down as a down payment.”

(Zind) Higgins adds that it’s also harder for mobile home owners to get loans because they’re considered a higher risk.

Higgins has been working with legislators, state officials, banking groups and other non-profits to create a pilot mobile home financing program.

The goal is to raise five and a half million dollars to provide long term low interest loans with lower down payments to 100 mobile home owners affected by Irene.

The money would come from federal funds, philanthropic groups and the state.

Jennifer Hollar is Deputy Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development. Hollar says the hope is to create a program that can sustain itself, using payments from existing loans to finance future ones.

(Hollar) “We know that there are very limited resources there and we want to target them to helping meet the needs that we see post Irene but also want to try to leverage them in a way that can meet an ongoing or broader problem at the same time.”

(Zind) Advocates like Emily Higgins of Champlain Housing Trust say Tropical Storm Irene has brought attention to how important mobile homes are in providing housing for low income Vermonters – and to the need for a better financing program for their owners.

(Higgins) “It’s been a long-term ongoing need and a lot of people have been aware of it but Irene has been a catalyst to force us to realize what a great need there is.”

(Zind) In Montpelier, lawmakers are also looking at other ideas designed to help mobile home owners affected by Irene, including waiving taxes on the purchase and sales of mobile homes.

For VPR news, I’m Steve Zind.

Link to VPR Broadcast

Mobile Home Advocates Push For Easier Financing



Would a ‘wet shelter’ be a help or a hindrance for Burlington?

Posted March 21, 2012


Written by Matt Ryan

“A wet shelter? Come on,” said David
Welch, taking a drag on his cigarette in
front of the Burlington mall. “That’s
influencing drunks to kill themselves. That’s telling them, ‘OK, we’ll pay you to kill yourself.’”Welch, a former homeless drinker now 22 years sober, said he’s old-school. If Burlington wants to help alcoholics living on its streets, a wet shelter — a place with few rules that allows them to arrive drunk — isn’t going to cut it.

“I’m more, ‘Sucks to be you. Go to jail,’”
Welch said. “I drank straight for 16 years, and I did a lot of time in the joint. That’s the only time I sobered up.”

Full Burlington Free Press Article

Would a ‘wet shelter be a hindrance for Burlington


VT’s Rental Vacancy Rate Drops in 2011

Posted March 5, 2012

Re-posted from VHFA’s Housing Matters – March 2, 2012

Leslie Black-Plumeau

According to annual housing vacancy statistics compiled by the Census Bureau, the estimated statewide rental vacancy rate fell in Vermont from 6.1% in 2010 to 4.2% in 2011 – the lowest in the nation, with the exception of Oregon. Nationally, the rental vacancy rate was 9.5% in 2011.

Vermont’s owner vacancy rate remained about the same in 2011 at 1.7%. The national owner vacancy rate was 2.5%.

Review the Census Reports

Link to original Housing Matters Announcement


Housing Seniors in Rural America: Resources, Advocacy, and Practice



Tuesday, June 5 2012 – Wednesday, June 6, 2012

802 859 5055
60 Battery Street
Burlington VT 05401

Join the Housing Assistance Council on June 5-6, 2012 in Burlington, Vermont, for Housing Seniors in Rural America: Resources, Advocacy, and Practice. Made possible with generous support from The Atlantic Philanthropies, this symposium will provide intensive training and information on housing for an aging population in rural America.

One of the most dramatic demographic shifts in U. S. history is the growth of the elderly population.  Rural America has a large and growing senior population, but also often lacks housing resources and capacity. Twenty-five percent of all rural households are occupied by the elderly. Of those homes, 80 percent are homeowner rather than rental properties. In fact, almost half of the rural census tracts in the U.S. have no subsidized rental units for seniors.

Learn more about meeting these emerging needs at HAC’s symposium.  Join policy makers, advocates, and your peers for a 2-day intensive workshop.  The agenda will feature discussions on aging in place, home repair and modification, preservation of senior rental housing, issues in HUD Section 202, the political and funding outlook for senior housing programs, strategies for advocacy, and examples of successful practice.  Also included will be a site visit to outstanding senior housing developments in the Burlington area.  Don’t miss this valuable opportunity to learn and share information on ways to meet the growing needs of the elderly.

Workshop topics will include:
· The Silver Tsunami: Demographics of Aging in Rural Areas
· Outlook for Senior Housing Policy and Programs
· Putting Programs to Work: Preservation of Rural Senior Housing
· Putting Programs to Work: Issues in HUD Section 202
· Putting Programs to Work: Aging in Place
· Advocacy for Senior Housing

Registration Fee: $50

Check the HAC web site for a full agenda.

Questions? Contact Shonterria Charleston at (202) 842-8600 or Visit HAC’s WEB SITEat for more information on HAC’s Rural Senior Housing Initiative.