Owned and operated by the John W. Graham Emergency Shelter, the Green Street Transitional Housing complex officially opened its doors on [October 10] during an event attended by Gov. Peter Shumlin and other state and local officials.
The building includes three apartments containing two, three and five bedrooms, respectively, all to be rented to low-income families looking to make the transition from homelessness to a permanent place to live.
“This is such a beautiful home, and it will be home to many people,” said Graham Shelter Executive Director Elizabeth Ready, who with shelter assistant director Paige Ackerson was doing painting and other final spruce-up work on 74 Green St. in anticipation of the governor’s arrival.
The apartment building was previously owned by Gary Boynton. Boynton put the property on the market and shelter officials — with a lot of help from the National Bank of Middlebury and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board — assembled a financing package to purchase and renovate the two-story structure.
The shelter paid $227,000 for the house and spent another $165,000 on renovations, which included adding insulation, a state-of-the art furnace and a hot-water heater; installing new plumbing; and making the structure compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Qualifying tenants cannot earn more than 30 percent of the median household income for Addison County, which translates to a maximum of $21,200 annually for a family of four. And Ready noted that some new state programs assisting homeless Vermonters will ensure that building tenants will pay only modest rents.
Those programs include the “Vermont Rental Subsidy” and an expanded Graham Shelter Program that allocates state resources to transitional housing, instead of primarily hotel vouchers. Rents include heat and utilities, and area churches have helped assemble furnishings for the apartments.
“This year, the governor has been very proactive in working with us,” Ready said.
And she and her colleagues are hoping the administration and Vermont General Assembly will do even more during the upcoming legislative session. Specifically, Ready wants to see the state double the Vermont Rental Subsidy from $500,000 to $1 million, in order to double the number of families housed through that offering, and to increase funding to the Emergency Shelter Program by $400,000.
Meanwhile, two of the three apartments at 47 Green St. are occupied. Ready said the vacant five-bedroom apartment could accommodate a large family or perhaps two single moms and their respective children.
Ready and Ackerson anticipate 47 Green St. — just like the shelter — will soon be full. With the federal shutdown and many salaries not keeping pace with market rents, young families in particular are having a tough time finding affordable places to stay.