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ACTION ALERTS: Sign on Letters Regarding CDBG and Fair Housing

Posted August 31, 2015

ACTION ALERT: SIGN ON LETTER OPPOSING SENATE AMENDMENT HARMFUL TO CDBG
Tell the Senate to Reject Language Stripping CDBG Funding from Sanctuary Cities
Deadline: Tuesday, September 8th COB
Please join the Coalition in signing on to a letter urging members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject the Vitter-Grassley substitute amendment to the Stop Sanctuary Cities Act (S. 1814) that would strip CDBG funding from communities that have immigrant “sanctuary” laws and policies in place. The amendment will be offered during a bill mark-up tentatively scheduled for September 10.

The letter is open to national, state and local groups, so please circulate widely. To sign on, please fill out the web form located here: http://nlihc.org/issues/participation/cdbg-letter.  To read the letter, click here.  Questions? Contact Elayne Weiss at the National Low Income Housing Coalition: (202) 507-7462 or eweiss@nlihc.org.


ACTION ALERT: SIGN LETTER OPPOSING CONGRESSIONAL ASSAULT ON FAIR HOUSING
Tell the Senate to Reject the House Anti-Fair Housing Language in Spending Bills
Deadline: Friday, September 4th
Please join the Coalition, the National Fair Housing Alliance, and hundreds of organizations around the country in signing on to a letter asking the Senate to reject the House’s harmful anti-fair housing amendments in any final spending legislation.

In June, the House of Representatives approved FY 16 spending bills for the Department of Justice and the Department of Housing and Urban Development with several amendments attached that severely undercut local fair housing enforcement and prohibit the federal government from using its authority to advance the Fair Housing Act’s mission of supporting diverse, inclusive communities where everyone has access to the resources they need to succeed.  No one should be denied a home because of who they are.  We must do everything in our power to prevent housing discrimination from occurring.  Stand with us in opposition to this assault on fair housing by signing on to the letter.

Click here to read the letter and sign your organization on.  Click Here for a brief fact sheet about the House’s anti-fair housing amendments.  Questions? Contact Jorge Andres Soto at the National Fair Housing Alliance: (202) 898-1661 ext 139, jsoto@nationalfairhousing.org.

 



Annual Joint Meeting of VAHC & VCEH and VAHC Annual Meeting Wednesday, Sept 9th in Randolph, VT

Posted August 28, 2015

The Coalition’s Annual Meeting, annual joint meeting with the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness (VCEH), and the VCEH’s monthly meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 9 from 9:30 – 2:00 at Our Lady of the Angels Church in Randolph.  As always, this year’s agenda will be packed with remarks from high level state policymakers, information and lively discussions.

We have invited representatives from the Shumlin Administration, legislative leadership, and the congressional offices to provide their perspectives on issues affecting affordable housing and homelessness over the coming year.  AHS Secretary Hal Cohen and House Appropriations Committee Chair Mitzi Johnson are confirmed, as are representatives from each of our three Congressional OfficesDHCD Deputy Commissioner Jen Hollar will provide us with an overview of recently developed resources for tenants and landlords.  The joint meeting will conclude with a networking lunch, followed by the VAHC Annual Meeting and the VCEH monthly meeting.  Here is the overall agenda for the day:

9:30-12:00  VAHC & VCEH Joint Meeting

12:00-1:00   Networking Lunch ($5 suggested donation)

1:00-2:00    VAHC Annual Meeting & VCEH Monthly Meeting

We’ll send out the full, detailed agenda, as well as background materials next week.

 



Job Opportunity: Senior Service Coordinator at John Graham Shelter

Posted

The John Graham Shelter is looking for a new Senior Service Coordinator. Read below for more information on the position and how to apply:

Do you believe that each person deserves a safe place to call home, and has the potential to realize a fulfilling life?  Would you like to join a team that values respect, compassion and empowerment and helps people achieve their goals?

The John Graham Shelter provides housing and services to homeless individuals and families in Addison County. We seek an experienced Masters level service coordinator (MSW, MA, LCMHC or LADC) to provide service coordinator, support, counseling and services to families with children at our five housing sites. Strong organizational and communication skills needed as well as experience in housing and working with people experiencing trauma and mental health and addiction issues.

We create a culture of kindness for those who live and work in our housing and we offer a collaborative workplace and a good compensation package. We would consider licensed professionals seeking full or part time positions.  Please send a letter, resume and references to Elizabeth.shelter@gmail.com by September 1. No calls please.

 



USDA Needs Your Help Identifying Housing Loan Applicants

Posted

USDA Rural Development needs your assistance helping 100 low income and working class families purchase a home or make home repairs by October 1. USDA currently has single family direct loan funding and housing repair loan funding available.

USDA Rural Development State Director Ted Brady has set a goal of making 100 new single family direct housing loans and housing repair loans before the end of the fiscal year. Loan specialists and technicians are working extended hours in an effort to expedite loan obligations before the end of the federal fiscal year.

The direct loan program is ideal for low income families – with annual income below approximately $60,000* – considering a home purchase. The direct loan program has many advantages:

  • No down payment required
  • No private mortgage insurance
  • No first-time homebuyer requirement
  • Low fixed interest rate of 3.5 percent
  • Subsidized interest rate of 1 percent for very low income families
  • 33 year term (38 for very low income applicants)
  • Direct underwriting with a professional and motivated USDA staff member

Home owners with income below 50 percent of the median area household income – approximately $35,000* – may be eligible for a 20 year, 1 percent, fixed-interest rate repair loan to fix foundations, wells, septic tanks, roofs, HVAC systems, energy efficiency repairs, renewable energy installations, electrical work, and much more.

Please contact the USDA Rural Development Area Office near you for further infomation or an application package. Visit www.rd.usda.gov/programs-swervices/single-family-housing-direct-home-loans or contact one of the following staff members.

In New Hampshire
Coos, Grafton and Carroll Counties:
Theresa Zowasky (603) 447-3318 x200
theresa.zowasky@nh.usda.gov

Central and Southern New Hampshire:
Roseanna Woodin (603) 223-6035
roseanna.woodin@nh.usda.gov

In Vermont
Addison, Caledonia, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans, and Washington Counties:
Karen Anthony (802) 828-6005
karen.anthony@vt.usda.gov

Bennington, Rutland, Windham, and Windsor Counties:
Rosemary Saunders (802) 257-7878 x108
rosemary.saunders@vt.usda.gov

 



Reminder: TD Charitable Foundation 2015 Housing for Everyone Grant Competition Applications Due Sept. 4th

Posted

The TD Charitable Foundation is now accepting applications for its 2015 Housing for Everyone grant competition.

A total of $2.5 million will be awarded this year to 25 local non-profit organizations that make a meaningful difference in meeting the affordable housing needs in communities served by TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®.

The theme of this year’s competition is Affordable Housing for Seniors; which will seek the creation of safe, clean, physically accessible housing for older persons (aged 55 and over). Access to clean, safe affordable housing throughout the TD Bank footprint affects thousands of low- and moderate-income senior citizens who cannot afford a place to live.

With the leading edge of the baby boom reaching retirement age(65 and over population projected to climb to 73 million by 2030 – an increase of 33 million in just twenty years) and many retirees unable to recover from the economic malaise in place since the Great Recession, the need for safe, clean, physically accessible, affordable housing is expected to sharply increase. High housing costs force a third of those aged 50 and over and 70% of those aged 80 and over to spend more than 30 percent of their existing income on housing that may or may not fit their needs. In many cases the existing units of affordable housing are in need of upkeep, maintenance and energy efficient upgrades.

This year’s competition seeks to focus on initiatives that will provide Affordable Housing for Seniors through the creation of new sustainable units that provide safe affordable housing for tday and tomorrow’s senior citizens.

Applications for funding must focus on:

Preservation/Rehabilitation/Expansion of viable existing affordable housing properties: This may include the redesign, reconfiguration and or re-use of existing space in affordable housing properties to create increased quality and quantity of affordable housing units for senior citizens (aged 55 and over). Upgrades to systems, structure and efficiency of properties to preserve and prolong their use will be considered.

Focus on Senior Citizens: Housing programs and services that address the unique needs of senior citizens in urban, suburban, and rural communities will be viewed favorably. This may include but is not limited to access to healthcare and medical services, public transportation, shopping, and recreational facilities as well on site services (elder care, exercise/fitness programs, community rooms, etc.) that would be attractive and supportive to senior citizens and their families.

Utilization of abandoned properties to create new units of affordable housing: In urban, suburban and rural areas, the utilization of underused or abandoned properties to provide permanent or interim housing for low- and moderate- income individuals provides a tremendous opportunity to reverse neighborhood and community decline.

Special consideration will also be given to those initiatives that focus on energy efficiencies to be realized through foundation funding.

Applications must meet the following guidelines:

  • Applicant organization must be tax-exempt under IRS Code 501(c) (3) or must be a state/local government entity;
  • Housing units or properties to be improved must be located in a TD Bank, N.A. metro market area;
  • Applicant organization must not discriminate on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, sexual identification, marital status, family status, veteran status, disability or other characteristic protected by law.
  • Applicant organization must have a history of developing, maintaining and/or providing affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families or individuals
  • Applicant organization must be able to show the impact they have made to affordable housing efforts in their community;
  • Applicant organization must show fiscal responsibility and ongoing viability;
  • All housing units or properties to be improved or developed must be for and occupied by low- and moderate-income families or individuals;
  • Applicant organizations seeking funds for the creation of new units must, if ground breaking has not already occurred, break ground for those units sometime during the period from the receipt of the funds (November 2015) through December 2016;
  • Applicant organization must be current on all outstanding debt obligations, utility payments and taxes, there can be no unsatisfied judgments/liens for which the applicant is liable;
  • Applicant organization must be able to quantify the impact of their proposed affordable housing project;
  • Applicant organization must not have any pending legal actions against it.

Applications will only be accepted through the TD Charitable Foundation’s online application system and should be submitted by 4:00 p.m. (EST) on September 4, 2015. Paper applications will not be accepted.

Notification of awards will be made by mid November 2015.

The online application and additional information about the Housing for Everyone grant competition are available at www.tdbank.com (click on ‘Our Community’).

 



New Affordable Housing Co-op Underway in Burlington

Posted

groundbreaking smaller

Photo credit: Kenn Sassorossi

Thursday morning brought together scores of interested onlookers as two local nonprofit housing developers were joined by Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and Vermont’s Speaker of the House Shap Smith to mark the beginning of construction of a new housing co-op in Burlington’s Old North End.

“The Bright Street Housing Cooperative will create greatly-needed new affordable housing opportunities in Burlington, and will continue the recent progress of substantial new investment in the Old North End,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “Congratulations and thank you to the Champlain Housing Trust and Housing Vermont for the creative, dedicated work that has made today’s groundbreaking possible and for your partnership in the long-term effort to make Burlington more affordable.”

“We know that community centers and downtowns are what many young families seek out as they search for places to work and grow a home. The Bright Street Housing Cooperative provides housing opportunity in this neighborhood in a way that reflects local needs and values. It was created with community involvement. When complete, it will offer housing that people need and can afford,” added Vermont Speaker of the House Shap Smith.

Two nonprofits – Champlain Housing Trust and Housing Vermont – are collaborating to build the development that will create 40 new homes on the one and a quarter acre brownfield site. Construction is underway and occupancy is expected in September, 2016. Four old, blighted buildings are to be removed to make way for the new housing in three buildings. Land is set aside for the possibility of installing a community garden at a later date.

“We are excited to be here in the Old North End creating new affordable apartments for the first time in more than a decade,” said Brenda Torpy, CEO of the Champlain Housing Trust. “We’re also thrilled to be organizing this development as a co-op giving the residents some of the benefits of ownership – as the neighborhood requested – while imparting leadership and business skills to the people who move in.”

Funding for the housing came from a variety of sources, including investments made by TD Bank through the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. Grants from HUD-funded programs were instrumental to the development, including support from NeighborWorks® America, HOME and Community Development Block Grants (commonly known as CDBG), the latter administered by the City of Burlington. Support and financing also came from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, Vermont Housing Finance Agency, Burlington Electric Department, Vermont Gas, the City of Burlington’s Housing Trust Fund, TD Charitable Foundation, and the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission.

In addition, the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission and State of Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation early support allowed the developers to hire professional expertise to conduct Environmental Site Assessments and Archeological Resource Assessments of the property, facilitating the redevelopment.

“While this project will bring long lasting housing and community development benefits to residents, the neighborhood and the broader community, it also generates significant economic advantages,” said Housing Vermont President Nancy Owens. “It will create 118 on-site jobs and 177 off-site jobs while providing more than $25 million in construction and indirect economic benefit.”

D.E.W. Construction out of Williston is the general contractor for the development and Duncan Wisniewski Architecture is the project’s architect. The cost of the development, including the environmental clean-up of the site, is approximately $11.7 million.

The housing will include a range of bedroom sizes to house both individuals and families. While not firm yet, rents for the two-bedroom expect to range between $775 and $1,200 a month, heat and hot water included. Fair Market Rent, as determined by HUD, is $1,328 for a two-bedroom apartment.

“We receive over 150 applications a month from people looking for an affordable rental, and we’ll only have a handful available,” explained CHT’s Torpy. “Building new housing like this is so critical for people in Burlington and surrounding communities.”

For more coverage of this story view the articles linked below:
Nonprofits Break Ground on Bright St. Co-op (Burlington Free Press)
City Celebrates New Option For Low-Cost Living (WPTZ)

 



Board Gives the Nod to New Shelter

Posted August 27, 2015

The Development Review Board in Brattleboro approved Groundworks Collaborative‘s application for the use of a new location for an emergency overnight shelter, which is set to open this November. Below is an excerpt of an article from The Commons with further details on this project and what lies ahead:

Despite the warmth of this summer, the staff of Groundworks Collaborative have the cold days of winter on their minds.

In November, the organization, which serves the area’s homeless population, will open its winter emergency night shelter. Come this November, however, the emergency shelter’s traditional location, the First Baptist Church on Main Street, may not be available.

To avoid leaving an average of 25 people out in the cold Vermont winter, Groundworks has sought a new location for the emergency shelter.

At its Aug. 24 meeting, the town’s Development Review Board (DRB) approved Groundworks’ application for a change of use permit at 39 Frost St.

Conditions to the permit included no construction in the special flood hazard area, adding a bike rack, and meeting fire safety conditions such as installing a sprinkler system.

The organization plans to retrofit the former auto body shop in time for the November opening of the emergency winter overflow shelter.

According to staff at Groundworks, the Frost Street site could meet short- and long-term needs.

In the short term, the property would serve as the emergency shelter.

In the long term, it may house the emergency shelter, moving the Drop-In Center from South Main Street; hold the food shelf; and provide space for case managers and administration offices.

To continue reading the article, click here.

 



Governor Shumlin Marks Recovery Milestones in Waterbury

Posted

laddhall

Standing at the intersection of State Drive and Main Street, Gov. Peter Shumlin today congratulated the community of Waterbury on the opening of South Main Apartments and beginning construction of the Hunger Mountain Children’s Center. At the conclusion of the event, he handed keys to a family moving into one of the new affordable homes. The projects each were supported by $1 million grants of Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds from the Agency of Commerce and Community Development.

“As we approach the fourth anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene, it’s important to mark our progress,” said Gov. Shumlin. “These long term recovery projects are the result of years of hard work and are restoring much needed affordable housing and services for children and families.”

“Soon, in addition to South Main Apartments, the Children’s Center and other projects such as the state office complex and municipal building will be completed making it possible for people of all incomes to live, work and play in the heart of Waterbury,” added Jen Hollar, Deputy Commissioner of Housing and Community Development.

Formerly located at 123 Main Street, the Hunger Mountain Children’s Center has been at a temporary location since being flooded during Irene. With the CDBG-DR grant, bank financing and its own savings, HMCC has purchased and is renovating the 19th century historic buildings at 121 and 123 Main Street. The new facility will allow it to expand and care for up to 65 children compared to the current 45 and employ additional staff. The grant requires that half the schools’ enrollment be from low and moderate income families.

“Everyone is so eager for construction to begin. We’re planning our new classrooms and simply can’t wait to return to downtown Waterbury in a spot that’s convenient to where people live and work,” said Bethany Fuller, HMCC’s teaching director. “Our staff refers to it as our ‘forever home.’”

South Main Apartments, developed by Downstreet Housing and Community Development and Housing Vermont, provides 27 mixed income apartments. It is located in the former Ladd Hall office building at the Waterbury State Office Complex which suffered flood damage when water enter the building through an underground utility connection. The redevelopment converts Ladd Hall, originally constructed in the 1890’s, and adds a wing to house one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. Rents for 25 units will be affordable to households at 60% and 80% of area median income and two units will be rented without income restrictions. Other funding sources include the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the federal HOME Program and private investor equity through state historic tax credits and federal housing tax credits administered by the Vermont Housing Finance Agency.

“The energy unleashed during Irene devastated Waterbury,” said Eileen Peltier, Downstreet’s Executive Director. “But we are here thanks to the outpouring of energy from this community and its supporters. Today, we are delighted to welcome residents to South Main Apartments.”

“This has been a complicated venture from the outset,” said Nancy Owens, President of Housing Vermont. “State government from the Governor on down was instrumental in helping us make this happen. We thank ACCD, the Department of Building and General Services, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and the Vermont Housing Finance Agency for their support.”

The CDBG Disaster Recovery Grants are part of $40 million CDBG-DR funding secured by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy and supported by Senator Bernie Sanders and U.S. Congressman Peter Welch in the federal budget process. The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and is administered by the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development of ACCD. The funds have helped towns across the state rebuild and become more resilient following Tropical Storm Irene and the spring floods of 2011.

For more on the event, view the Waterbury Record‘s coverage here.

 



Emergency Housing Update, Memo, and Documents

Posted

Please see the following Memo and supporting documentation regarding Emergency Housing:

Members of the DCF Housing Team are available for questions:

Commissioner’s Office
Ken Schatz – Commissioner – ken.schatz@vermont.gov
Karen Vastine – Principal Assistant – karen.vastine@vermont.gov

Economic Services Division
Sean Brown – Deputy Commissioner – sean.brown@vermont.gov
Chris Dalley – General Assistance Program Director – chris.dalley@vermont.gov

Office of Economic Opportunity
Sarah Phillips – Interim Chief Administrator – sarah.phillips@vermont.gov

 



ALERT: Last call to sign letter v. Sequestration – deadline TODAY Fri 8/21

Posted August 21, 2015

Friends,

Please join the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition and many other VT organizations TODAY to help: 

STOP SEQUESTRATION NOW!!

Sign Letter Urging Congress to Replace Unfair Sequestration with a Balanced Approach to Deficit Reduction 

Sequestration in FY16 imposes deep cuts to important non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs, including HUD and Rural Housing Service housing programs. Join advocates from around the country in calling on Congress to stop sequestration. Sign your organization on by COB TODAY, Friday, August 21 at: http://nlihc.org/issues/participation/ndd_letter.

BACKGROUND
In 2011, Congress passed the Budget Control Act, which resulted in 6% across-the-board cuts to housing and most other discretionary programs in 2013. Those cuts resulted in 100,000 fewer housing choice vouchers being in use in 2014, as well as cuts to every other HUD and Rural Housing Service program.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 negotiated by Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) provided partial, temporary relief from sequestration in FY14 and FY15. However, sequestration has returned in FY16 with a devastating impact on appropriations bills for NDD programs.

For example, the HUD spending bills either passed by the House or passed by the Senate Committee on Appropriations, which comply with the sequester spending caps, would:

  • Effectively eliminate the HOME program with a 93% funding cut (Senate bill).
  • Empty the National Housing Trust Fund in 2016 and forever after (House bill).
  • Fail to renew existing vouchers (House bill would not renew 28,000 existing vouchers, Senate bill would not renew 50,000 existing vouchers).
  • Insufficiently fund the renewal of all project-based rental assistance contracts (House bill).
  • Cut public housing capital funds (House and Senate bills).
  • Eliminate increases sought by HUD for Homeless Assistance Grants (House and Senate bills).

If Congress fails to replace sequestration with a balanced approach to deficit reduction that achieves parity in relief for NDD and defense programs, legislators will be locked into passing final spending bills with these severe cuts.

See NLIHC’s budget chart for more information about cuts to housing: http://bit.ly/1Hi0YA9

HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION
Join advocates from many sectors around the country by signing a letter urging Congress to replace sequestration with a balanced approach to deficit reduction. The deadline is COB TODAY, Friday, August 21.

Sign the letter at http://nlihc.org/issues/participation/ndd_letter

View the letter at http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/NDD_Sign-On_Fall-2015.pdf

 



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