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VCDA Presents a Community Tour: Hardwick, A Success Story – July 19, 2012

Posted June 29, 2012

The Vermont Community Development Association (VCDA) Presents a Community Tour:

Hardwick a Success Story!

Thursday, July 19, 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Join VCDA on a tour to see why Hardwick has become a Vermont “Success Story”!

  • Please find the complete registration packet attached for your review.
  • Please RSVP by July 12 using the attached registration form.
  • Let us know if you have any questions.

Jessica Hill, Manager of Human Resources and Administration

On behalf of the Vermont Community Development Association

Full Information: Hardwick Community Tour 2012


Save the Date: Housing 101 Training


Sponsored by: Washington County Agency Programs & Case Managers

Everything you always wanted to know to be able to help an individual or family with housing, but were afraid to ask!

  • When: Friday, September 28, 2012
  • Where: Pavilion Auditorium, Montpelier, Vermont.
  • Time: 9:00am – 3:00p

Topics May Include: 

  • Vouchers – Section 8, Shelter Plus Care & Family Unification
  • Point in Time Survey Data
  • General Assistance & Housing Replacement Funds
  • Federal & State Initiatives
  • Housing & Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault
  • Housing & Veterans

If you have any questions please contact: Allison Joyal Silveria, Central Vermont Community Action Council. 802.479.1053.




Vermont’s Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice


From the Dept. of Economic, Housing & Community Development

Dear colleagues:

We are pleased to let you know that the 2012 State of Vermont Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice (AI) has been completed and is available for download on the Agency’s NEW website.

The AI was developed by the consultant selected for the project, Mullin and Lonergan Associates, with input from more than a dozen stakeholder groups and numerous one on one and group interviews, and results of six focus groups conducted by the Fair Housing Project of CVOEO during 2011. Thank you to everyone who participated either in a focus group or interview or submitted comments.

Many Fair Housing Achievements have been made in Vermont but there is still more work to do.  The AI identifies 12 public sector and two private sector Impediments to Fair Housing Choice and suggests a total of nearly 40 Proposed Actions the State can undertake to ameliorate or remove these barriers.  We plan to work hard on these with your help, to continue our progress in eliminating to the fullest extent possible, housing discrimination in Vermont.

Some general fair housing observations from the AI:

  • The most rapidly growing population is non-white and Hispanic residents
  • Many areas of minority concentration are in Burlington, but there are 77 such areas throughout the state
  • Persons with disabilities, female-headed households, and minorities are more likely to have lower income or live in poverty
  • Minority households are more likely to have housing problems
  • Minimum wage worker and single wage households can’t afford the HUD fair market rent
  • Individuals whose income comes only from SSI can’t afford a zero bedroom apartment at the HUD fair market rent
  • Regardless of race or ethnicity, households earning the median household income can’t afford a home selling for the median price

Some of the Impediments to Fair Housing Choice identified in the AI and suggested Actions:

  • Minority households have greater difficulty becoming homeowners; expand sustainable homeownership opportunities through education and counseling, provide lending and banking in LMI and minority areas, marketing affordable mortgage products
  • The state’s supply of decent, affordable housing remains inadequate; continue to balance CDBG and HOME investments between areas, when possible reduce or waive local impact fees for affordable housing development
  • The State’s policies for allocating and reporting CDGG and HOME funds could be improved from a Fair Housing perspective; continue current requirements for municipalities to attend fair housing training, mapping new affordable housing development relative to impacted areas, initiate a fair housing log, create a unified database for annual reporting
  • The majority of fair housing complaints involve disability and familial status; continue funding the Fair Housing Project, outreach to landlords and property management companies
  • Public transit is largely limited to higher density areas, and does not accommodate second or third shift workers; collaborate with VTrans and public transportation providers, continue the “Go Vermont” program

Please read the full report for a complete list and detailed explanation of the impediments and the recommended actions!


Life in the ‘dead zone’: Homeowners near airport watch neighborhood disappear

Posted June 28, 2012

Gary Shepard at 1 Patrick St., his home near the Burlington International Airport in South Burlington.

John Briggs, Free Press Staff Writer: June 25, 2012

The Burlington Airport’s neighborhood, sound buffeted, is going away, piece by piece, like a landscape-shifting Stephen King novel or like Detroit, changing the daily landscape for those who remain. The noise from the airport is too loud for residential life according to Federal Aviation Administration guidelines, and the houses are being bought by the airport and torn down.

It is still a pleasant neighborhood with tall trees and deep, well-tended lawns. Many houses have flower gardens. Airport Parkway has become a throughway from South Burlington to Colchester — one woman who lives there says backing from her steep driveway is often an adventure. The side streets, Dumont Avenue, Patrick and Maryland streets, North Henry Court are still a testament to the post-war housing boom that gave cash-pressed families a respectable address and neighborhood to call home.

Now, it is a neighborhood marked by empty lots and dozens of houses marked with quarantine-like yellow signs, South Burlington’s zoning permit to “demolish a single family home.” The signs don’t explain why.

In conversation — and virtually everyone wants to talk about what’s happening — themes emerge: nostalgia for what was, irritation at the airport’s lack of communication with people in the sound zone and a feeling that forces greater than a single homeowner have decided the neighborhood is of less value than an expanding airport. Often, conversations about the change are tinged with sadness that once familiar sounds and a neighborhood pulse are becoming past tense.

“I’d like to keep my neighborhood,” said Beverly Darling, who lives on Maryland Street, “but it’s too late now.”

“Now, it’s going goodbye. It’s going to happen,” said her neighbor across the street, Tricia Phillips, who observed that her family’s dog and another dog two houses down give some protection against burglars entering the empty house next door ..


Link to Full Burlington Free Press Article

PDF of Full Burlington Free Press Article



Tight rental market, little hope for housing among Vermont’s poorest


Posted By Andrew Nemethy On June 27, 2012 @ 11:26 pm


Aside from a mooring slip in Burlington or a season’s pass to the Red Sox, what’s one of the hardest things to get in Vermont?

It’s a Section 8 Housing Choice voucher that comes with a waiting list as long as five or six years.

If you’ve never heard of Section 8, consider yourself lucky. It means you likely own your own home or earn enough to pay for a rental (or have found others to share rental costs and make an apartment affordable).

Section 8 Housing Choice is federal lingo for a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program that assists very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to find housing in the private market. Using the voucher, renters can find a modest, safe apartment from private landlords and generally pay no more than 30 percent of their household income, as long as the units meet certain HUD standards. (There is also a smaller, separate Section 8 project-based program that provides vouchers at specific housing projects).

In short, Section 8 covers the gap between what families can afford to pay and HUD’s estimate of Fair Market Value rent. Think of it as HUD’s free-market way to provide housing for those who desperately need it while putting money into the hands of local landlords whose buildings support local property taxes. It’s a successful program, except for one thing: With every passing year, it’s falling further behind in meeting housing needs, in Vermont as well as nationwide …


Link to Full Article

PDF of Full VT Digger Article


Self made Vermont: A 20-year garden oasis

Posted June 26, 2012

Faith Ingulsrud (right) and Eric Avildsen have spent 20 years building an extensive garden at their home in Underhill. In this picture taken last week, they stand before a vegetable bed on the lower level of the terraced garden. / GLENN RUSSELL / Free Press

Burlington Free Press: Phyl Newbeck June 23, 2012

It’s not as though Faith Ingulsrud and Eric Avildsen have a lot of spare time on their hands.

Ingulsrud is the planning coordinator at Vermont’s Department of Economics, Housing and Community Development and Avildsen is the executive director of Vermont Legal Aid. Still, this Underhill couple takes their gardening seriously. They have built a series of arced, terraced walls to create three distinct layers of gardens at their Cilley Hill Road home. Ingulsrud chronicles their efforts in her blog, Zone 4 Zest.

The couple bought their house 22 years ago and immediately set out to improve on both the dwelling and the yard. The house with southern exposure had only two small windows facing out, so they removed the front wall and put on an addition, as well as a porch. The two windows were replaced with 11 larger ones, resulting in significant solar gain.

Creating the garden took longer and eventually required the help of a neighbor with an excavator. The bottom level of the garden is vegetables, followed by a collection of perennials which provides good ground cover and habitat for a variety of creatures, including insect pollinators. The next level used to be a tidier collection of perennials until Ingulsrud realized her energy for them was waning while her interest in food was growing. The result is what she describes as a Mediterranean garden with herbs, in close proximity to the kitchen.

A planner in both her professional and personal life, Ingulsrud starts perusing seed catalogs in January to come up with a blueprint for the garden. The beds are rotated annually and at this juncture the couple has more than 100 species in the garden. Slug patrol is performed by a trio of geese who also provide the couple with eggs.

Growing year-round

The latest addition to the property is a hoop house which was built against a stone wall to provide thermal mass. The root cellar is built into the slope in the middle of the hoop house, ensuring that only one path has to be cleared through the snow in the winter.

According to Avildsen, one of the keys to their success is bringing certain plants inside at the end of the growing season.

“In the winter our house is solid green,” said Avildsen. “Every window and sliding door has a plant in front of it.”

One interesting twist is the couple’s polycultural plots. Dill, cilantro, radishes and lettuce, which will be ready in the early summer, share a plot with cabbage, Brussels sprouts and parsnips, which will emerge later in the season.

Ingulsrud has successfully experimented with more unusual plants such as miniature kiwis, Meyer lemons and limes. Avildsen bakes bread every week and the couple grow poppies for their seeds. They even have a small plot of lemon grass for Asian recipes.

“I’m not a tidy gardener,” said Ingulsrud, “but having some formality in the vegetable garden helps for maintenance and making you want to be there. This is where I come down first thing in the morning. Maintenance isn’t a chore; it happens.”

“We were eating lettuce in March,” said Avildsen. “The hearty greens wintered-over and we had asparagus a month before everyone else. Right now we buy virtually no vegetables from the supermarket except for the occasional ingredient.”

The couple tries to avoid growing surplus, planting only enough for their needs and what can be stored in the root cellar. “We pick food from April into the winter,” Ingulsrud said. “We’ve done a good job if we can go into December.”


Voice of Vermont: A tribute to Antonio Pomerleu by Senator Bernie Sanders


Developer and philanthropist Tony Pomerleau arrives at Trinity Episcopal Church in Shelburne on Tuesday night to discuss his plan for the Shelburnewood Mobile Home Park. Pomerleau unveiled his proposal to become the landlord, redevelop the access roads and allow the current residents to keep their houses. / ELLIOT deBRUYN/Free Press

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., submitted this tribute to Tony Pomerleau in the Congressional Record:

June 25, 2012

Mr. President, today I wish to celebrate Antonio Pomerleau of Burlington, Vt., for his remarkable generosity and for his lifetime of service to the people of Vermont. My wife Jane and I have known Tony for over 30 years, since we all worked together when I was mayor of Burlington, and he is clearly one of the remarkable people in our state.

Last year, Vermont was badly hit by Tropical Storm Irene, the most damaging storm in a half century. Torrential rains, in combination with Vermont’s steep hills and narrow valleys, brought flooding on a vast scale to town after town, wiping out roads and bridges, downtowns and mobile home parks, homes, schools and businesses. Many brave and generous people, from communities across the state, helped those whose lives were uprooted to deal with their losses.

The Vermont National Guard, along with the Guards of other States and private contractors, rapidly repaired and rebuilt washed-out roads and bridges. State officials and Federal officials were quick to provide relief and aid.

There are federal funds available to help rebuild highways, to assist farmers as they cope with damage to their fields, to help many homeowners. But, as the governor’s ‘‘Irene Recovery Report’’ indicates, mobile home owners are in a category by themselves. Irene particularly devastated mobile home parks, many of which were built close to rivers that endured major flooding. Sixteen mobile home parks in many regions of Vermont were seriously affected by Irene. Hundreds of mobile homes were badly damaged or completely destroyed.

As the ‘‘Irene Recovery Report’’ made clear, while mobile homes provide an important affordable ownership option to Vermonters, their construction, location and low resistance to water damage can create additional obstacles to recovery following a disaster. Few of the Vermonters affected had significant discretionary resources with which to secure replacement housing. Owners and residents of mobile homes faced enormous challenges.

Into the breach stepped Antonio Pomerleau. Tony, who grew up on a small dairy farm in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, has never forgotten the working families of Vermont. It should be no surprise, though it is nevertheless remarkable, that in the aftermath of the flooding last year Tony would generously look out for those who live in affordable housing and cannot afford to rebuild when catastrophe strikes.

Today, I want celebrate Tony for his act of enormous generosity in creating the Pomerleau Cornerstone Fund and giving it $1 million. This fund has one purpose: to provide direct funding to residents of mobile homes whose residences were destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene. The Pomerleau Cornerstone Fund will help displaced mobile residents either with full replacement of their homes, or with downpayment assistance for another home. It will provide grants up to $25,000 so that at least 40 families can move into safe and affordable housing.

Throughout his entire adult life, Tony has been a model of what a good corporate citizen should be. He has been an excellent employer, and he has devoted a good part of his life and considerable skills toward public service — without remuneration. For many years he served as police commissioner of Burlington and did an outstanding job in that role. He has also been extremely generous in donating funds to a wide variety of very worthy causes.

Since I was mayor of Burlington, and this is going back 31 years, Tony Pomerleau has paid for a holiday party each year for Burlington’s low-income children and their parents. He also sponsors an annual party for the Vermont National Guard. He was the major contributor of funds to the Pomerleau Alumni Center at St. Michael’s College— two of his sons and a granddaughter attended college there. He has provided scholarships to Rice High School and funded renovations to Christ the King School. Tony donated the North Avenue building that became our city’s police headquarters, and continues to contribute financial support for policemen and policewomen.

And this really is just a very small part of Tony’s philanthropic work. But facts tell only part of the story of Tony Pomerleau. His generosity is matched by his energy, and even though his 94th birthday is in his rearview mirror, he has the energy of a man half his age. His mind has always been sharp, and time has not dulled it. His deep love for his wife Rita and their children is the rock on which he has built his life. His understanding of Vermont — where it has been, where it is, where it can be going — is, in my view, remarkable. Tony Pomerleau stands as one of Vermont’s outstanding citizens. Today, I celebrate his generosity—it is the habit of lifetime, and a habit we can all learn from.

Bernie Sanders of Burlington is the Independent U.S. senator for Vermont.


New Rental Neighborhood Opens in Burlington’s New North End

Posted June 25, 2012

– Cathedral Square, Champlain Housing Trust and Housing Vermont Complete 63 Apartments –

Burlington, Vermont – Today, Governor Peter Shumlin and Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger joined a trio of nonprofit housing organizations to mark the completion of an attractive, new neighborhood off North Avenue in Burlington’s New North End.

“The creation of this neighborhood comes at a time of new energy in Burlington. These perpetually affordable homes will ensure residents of all incomes and ages have a place here,” said Governor Shumlin. “The state is happy to have supported this energy-efficient, smart growth development and the jobs that come along with it. Congratulations to the talented team that put the project together.”

Reflecting the name of a former school, Thayer Commons consists of three properties: Thayer House, 69 senior apartments developed by the Cathedral Square Corporation in two phases; Avenue Apartments, 33 apartments developed by Housing Vermont and the Champlain Housing Trust (CHT); and The Flats a project developed by EF Farrell which offers a total of 88 apartments in two phases. When complete, the new neighborhood will be home to nearly 200 households.

“The redevelopment of the former Thayer School is among the best local examples of smart growth. At the heart of the American dream is the simple hope that each of us can choose to live in a neighborhood that is beautiful, safe, affordable and easy to get around. The Thayer development makes that dream a reality for hundreds of people,” said Mayor Weinberger. “Congratulations to Champlain Housing Trust, Housing Vermont, Cathedral Square Corporation and Eric Farrell on transforming a vacant school with acres of parking into this vibrant community for people from all walks of life.”

The regional rental market is marked by high rents and very few vacancies. The current Burlington apartment vacancy rate is less than 1 percent (5% is considered a market balanced between landlords and tenants). The median rent in the region is $1,263 for a 2-bedroom apartment without utilities.

Demand for the new apartments has been extremely high. Construction of Thayer House was completed in May and all 33 senior apartments were reserved prior to the opening date. The 33 units at Avenue Apartments became available on May 29 and are also already fully leased.

“We have 100 people filling out rental applicants a month, and no one project can close the gap in demand,” said CHT Chief Operating and Financial Officer Michael Monte. “But here we have made an impact while demonstrating how a new development can complement an existing vibrant neighborhood.”

Thayer House provides seniors with 30 one- and three two-bedroom apartments in a three-story building featuring many amenities including central air conditioning, a secure entry-way system, laundry facilities on each floor and a smoke-free environment. However, it is the strong services that distinguish Thayer House.

“Thayer House represents the future of Cathedral Square,” said Executive Director Nancy Eldridge. “When we think about housing for seniors we envision a setting where residents have the support they need, when they need it. Thayer House was designed to provide the community rooms, accessibility and technology to complement our new Support And Services at Home (SASH) program. SASH helps residents stay healthy and at home.”

SASH, a care partnership among Cathedral Square, VNA of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties, Champlain Valley Agency on Aging and other service providers, offers case management and preventive services in the home setting at no cost to the participants.

Avenue Apartments offers 12 one-, 18 two- and 13 three-bedroom apartments for low, moderate and market rate singles and families. The highly energy efficient building incorporates many green features, including roof-mounted photovoltaic solar panels which produce more electricity than the building uses.

“The three elements of Thayer Commons clearly demonstrate the success of a coordinated, thoughtful response to the need to meaningfully increase the supply of housing while fitting into established neighborhoods,” said Housing Vermont President Nancy Owens. “None of this would have been possible without the cooperation of our neighbors, the City and the State of Vermont and the financial support of both the public and private sector,” Owens said.

Over a dozen sources of funds financed the new development, including a HUD special purpose grant secured by Senator Patrick Leahy.


The Cathedral Square Corporation (CSC) is a non-profit organization that owns and manages communities for seniors and individuals with special needs. The organization was founded as a ministry of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in 1977 and by 1979 CSC had opened its first building in downtown Burlington, Vermont. For the past 30 years, Cathedral Square has lived up to its mission of “healthy homes, caring communities and positive aging”, providing housing with supportive services for over 1,235 residents. As an advocate for a system that better serves the long term care needs of Vermonters. Cathedral Square administers the SASH program statewide as part of Vermont’s Blueprint for Health. The organization continues to develop properties throughout Northwestern Vermont. Today, CSC owns and/or manages 25 housing communities, each uniquely designed to provide safe and secure apartments at an affordable price.

The Champlain Housing Trust, founded in 1984, is the largest community land trust in the country. Throughout Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties, CHT owns and manages approximately 1,500 apartments, stewards over 500 owner-occupied homes in its signature shared-equity program, and provides services to five housing cooperatives and other resident-controlled housing that is home to 460 households. CHT also provides homebuyer education and financial counseling and offers affordable energy efficiency and rehab loans. In 2008, CHT won the prestigious United Nations World Habitat Award, recognizing its innovative, sustainable programs.

Housing Vermont, a nonprofit syndication and development company founded in 1988, creates permanently affordable rental housing for Vermonters through partnerships with local organizations, public agencies and the private sector. This highly successful partnership has produced more than 4,400 affordable apartments in 145 different developments. Housing Vermont has raised and deployed more than $247 million in private equity which has leveraged an additional $351 million in private financing and public investment.

Chris Donnelly – Director of Community Relations, Champlain Housing Trust


USDA Blog: Vermont USDA Staff Help Restore a Hurricane-Damaged Teen Shelter

Posted June 22, 2012

Re-Posted from USDA Blog: June 21, 2012 – Marie Ferris, Vermont Public Information Coordinator.

Robert McDonald, Housing Program Director and Molly Lambert, State Director USDA Rural Development on front steps of Mountainside House Teen Center in Ludlow VT. USDA staff helped repair the building as part of June Homeownership Month activities.

here are several definitions of home. The one I think best fits the Mountainside House Teen Center in Vermont is “A familiar or usual setting: a congenial environment.”

The Center is part of the Windsor County Youth Services supporting kids and young adults aged 16 to 22 for periods of up to 18 months, through their Transitional Living Program (TLP). It is a home for boys that provides structure, aids them in completing their education, learning job skills and becoming involved with their community.

Eight teenage boys were living at the Center the day Tropical Storm Irene tore into Vermont. Their home was severely damaged by flood waters that filled the basement and rose more than a foot in the main living space.  The boys were transported to the safety of a local church high on a hill just before the water came rushing into the center.

In a matter of seconds, the home that had been their safe haven was taken away.  Their world was turned upside down and they were left with the feelings of disbelief and shock at the destruction around them.

Almost a year later, on June 8, 2012, Vermont USDA Rural Development staff joined the Gilman Housing Trust and four other NeighborWorks® organizations for a day of Irene clean-up efforts in Cavendish, Vermont, and surrounding towns.

Susan Poland, Rural Housing Specialist and Michael Bard, Area Director USDA Rural Development removing carpet on third floor of teen center.

Ten USDA staff, along with dozens of other volunteers, participated with shovels, rakes and a lot of muscle and heart to get the work done.   At the Mountainside House Teen Center, the feeling of camaraderie, purpose and accomplishment was felt by each participant who reclaimed the flower garden, lawn and yard, pulled up carpet, painted, and repaired a bathroom floor.

April Langley, program manager; the Center staff and the boys themselves pitched in to assist with the work being done. There were feelings of joy, gratitude and hope that maybe by this fall, moving back home would be a reality.

Celebrating National NeighborWorks® Week and USDA Rural Development’s June Homeownership Month with our partners and the teen center will be remembered in everyone’s hearts for a very long time.


Housing Matters Blog: While housing market gradually recovers, severe cost burdens become entrenched


Re-posted from Housing Matters Blog: June 19, 2012 – Leslie Black-Plumeau

According to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies’ annual State of the Nation’s Housing report released earlier this week, 2012 is likely to mark the beginning of a true housing market recovery.

But the report also describes the complex dynamics of the current rental housing market, which is both helping to fuel economic growth while leaving more households severely cost burdened than ever before.  Demand for rental units has surged among American households in a range of age, household type, race/ethnicity, and income groups.  As renter demand has increased, falling vacancy rates in most of the nation’s largest metro areas have pushed rents up, the report explains.  Vermont’s experience has been no different—the statewide vacancy rate fell in 2011 and median rent increased, according to Census Bureau estimates.

The gap between the number of low income renters and affordable apartments doubled between 2000 and 2010, the Harvard report points out.  “A range of forces have been at work to deplete the affordable rental inventory… nearly three of ten units renting for less than $400 in 1999 were lost from the stock a decade later” due to demolitions, conversions to seasonal use, and being moved up to higher rent levels.

The recession surpressed the ability of many young people to move out of their parents’ homes.  As the economy recovers, they are likely to leave, form new households, and further drive up the demand for rental housing, the report explains.  The critical role of HUD housing assistance, the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, and the mortgage revenue bond program administered by state housing finance agencies is highlighted in the closing of the report “not only to ensure quality of life for cost-burdened individuals and families, but also to repair the social fabric of entire communities damaged by the recession.”


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