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VAHC Featured in Vermont Community Foundation’s “Opportunity: 11 Critical Paths for Philanthropy in Vermont”

Posted November 25, 2015

VAHC (and affordable housing!) is featured in the Vermont Community Foundation‘s report, Opportunity: 11 Critical Paths for Philanthropy in Vermont! Read about how we’re working to expand affordable housing: http://www.vermontcf.org/uv/.

 



Join Vermont Interfaith Action in telling Gov. Shumlin How Important an open Budget Discussion is to Vermonters

Posted

Vermont Interfaith Action will be holding a public event to aid in their movement toward a Moral Economy on Wednesday, December 2, from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm at the Unitarian Church of Montpelier (130 Main St). For more information on the event, read below:

Here’s why:
For the past three months, Vermont Interfaith Action, in partnership with Public Assets Institute, has been presenting “Building Vermont’s Moral Economy” all across the state — in fact, in 10 different locations including Bennington, Brattleboro, Danville, Middlebury, Rutland, Burlington, and Montpelier.

At these presentations, we’ve been making a case for acknowledging that all Vermont’s economic indicators — like the numbers of people on food stamps, the number of children living in poverty, the number of homeless persons, wages, and the real median household income — are headed in the wrong direction. Income inequality and poverty are getting worse in Vermont.

If we can all agree that this situation is not morally acceptable, then we must take action.

As a manageable first step, VIA and Public Assets are asking for Governor Shumlin to publicly publish a “Current Services Budget” — a projection of the real cost of providing all of the public services the state has said, through laws and policies, it is committed to provide. This additional column in the state budget would show the numbers of dollars it would actually take to run state programs and meet the assessed needs of Vermonters.

This would accomplish three things:

1. Provide information for an open and honest conversation about the real conditions of the state budget
2. Enable a state budget process that could then be designed to start with people, and not just manage to the available money
3. Comply for the first time with 2012 session law that requires the Governor to publish the Current Services Budget

On December 2nd we will hold one of our “Actions” and make this request of Governor Shumlin publicly. We must demonstrate that people of faith care deeply about the immorality of our current economy, and that we strongly desire the transparency a Current Services Budget will provide — and we can do that best with a large number of people in attendance.

 



West Lebanon Apartment Complex Preserved After USDA Loan

Posted November 24, 2015

Twin Pines Housing Trust recently purchased the former Pine Tree Lane and Beechwood Lane apartments — now known as the Village at Crafts Hill — with a $6.8 million loan from the USDA Rural Development program, preserving 88 rent-subsidized units in the Upper Valley. Below is an excerpt from a WCAX report on the story:

Tenants of a low income housing complex in West Lebanon were running out of time and options. They were at risk of losing their homes, but now their worries are now over.

“Your homes have been preserved, and they’ve been preserved for the next 30 years,” said Ted Brady, United States Department of Agriculture.

Sighs of relief from the tenants of Pine Tree Lane apartments. This was news they thought would never come.

“I don’t have to move anything. Thank God,” said Anne Hughes, resident.

WCAX first met Hughes in April, just days after she and more than a hundred other tenants of Pine Tree Lane apartments received notes explaining the apartment’s rental assistance contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development was due to expire. By December 31, 2015, Hughes and all of her neighbors, either had to provide full rental payment or move out.

“I filled out applications. Waited and waited,” said Hughes.

Things weren’t looking up. Hughes said there weren’t many options for her in the Upper Valley.

“They all want more than the apartment’s worth and they want a security deposit and they want the first months and the last month’s rent. And I’m on disability, Social Security doesn’t give you a whole lot,” said Hughes.

As the December deadline inched closer, many of her neighbors moved out. Hughes says she was starting to lose hope when she got word that someone was looking out for them.

“When we heard in April that Pine Tree might be lost as affordable housing, we knew instinctively that we needed to be part of the solution,” said Andrew Winter, Twin Pines Housing Trust.

Twin Pines Housing Trust used a $6.7 million USDA loan to purchase the 50-unit Pine Tree Lane and adjacent 50-unit Beechwood Lane apartment complexes. Residents of the two complexes will receive subsidized assistance and be able to stay in their homes.

“When a community cares enough about their own well-being, their own safety and protection and their own home and hearth to come together to save it, I’m just proud to be a part of that,” said Rep. Ann Kuster, D-New Hampshire.

The name of the complex will change. It will be called the “Village at Crafts Hill.” Residents who currently live there, like Hughes, will have to update their addresses. She says compared to losing her home, that’s a minor inconvenience.

“This is beyond awesome,” said Hughes.

To view the full story, including video, click here.

For the Valley News report, click here.

 



Five New England Governors Unite to Support HOME

Posted

Last week, five New England governors united across party lines in support of the HOME program, which provides critical funding for rental production, rent assistance, and home ownership. Governors Baker (R-MA), Hassan (D-NH), Malloy (C-CT), Raimondo (D-RI), and Shumlin (D-VT) all signed a letter to the New England federal delegation supporting the President’s budget recommendation of $1.8 billion for the HOME program, which the U.S. House and Senate budget proposals threatened to eviscerate.

“As governors, we are particularly attuned to the problems of both housing for our workforce and for our most vulnerable citizens who in highly competitive markets across New England are too often faced with homelessness,” according to the letter. “As you consider funding priorities for Fiscal Year 2016, we speak together on a bipartisan basis in favor of an increased federal/state partnership on the issue of affordable housing,” it continues.

The HOME program was authorized in 1990 as part of the Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act. Targeted to low or moderate income people, the HOME program can be used to build new houses, rehabilitate existing housing, help purchase a first home, and provide rental assistance. These funds can also be used for historic rehabilitation and transit-oriented development. According to a report from the HOME Coalition, HOME funds and leveraged public and private resources have helped build or preserve nearly 1.2 million affordable homes and provide direct rental assistance to 270,000 families at risk of homelessness since 1992. HOME is a flexible program that can be tailored to the unique housing needs in each state.

HOME funding has rapidly decreased over the past few years, creating great difficulties for states in their efforts to address affordable housing needs. Between FY11 and FY15, HOME funding was cut from $1.6 billion to $900 million. Under the most recent proposals from Congress, HOME is being recommended for $66 million under the Senate Appropriations Committee proposal (which would basically eliminate the program), and $766 million in appropriated funds under the House proposal.

On behalf of the New England Housing Network, Brenda Clement, Executive Director of Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association in Boston, MA, said, “We thank the New England governors for recognizing the importance of the HOME program to the people of our region, many of whom struggle with the high costs of housing in our states. We look forward to working with Congress to increase the funding available for this program so we can address the housing needs of our most vulnerable residents, who simply can’t find places to live for themselves and their families, at prices that they can afford.”

To view the letter, click here.

 



Job Opportunity: Executive Director at The Samaritan House

Posted

The Samaritan House, Inc. is seeking a dynamic leader to manage its homeless shelter, transitional housing and support services in St. Albans, VT. The new Director must be an experienced executive with highly developed interpersonal skills, strong financial, operational, grant writing and management expertise, as well as the ability to take strong initiative and build strong political relationships. This is a full-time position with limited benefits. Salary based on experience and qualifications. The Samaritan House is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Please direct all inquiries to Linda Ryan, Samaritan House, 24 Kingman Street, St. Albans, VT05478, e-mail: director@samaritanhouseinc.com or lindaryan3@comcast.net.

Required Skills:

Leadership: Provide a positive leadership that motivates and encourages the staff and the Board to achieve the goals of the organization.

Fundraising: Provide direct oversight and work closely with the Director of Development and Board of Directors to implement a development plan that supports the annual budget and Strategic Plan. Must be competent at meeting with donors in the major gift and other fundraising solicitations.

Strategic Thinking: Work closely with the management team and the Board of Directors to develop and implement short and long-range actions and strategies as outlined in the Strategic Plan. This requires creative approaches to developing programs and seeking solutions for community needs.

Financial Management: Accountable for meeting fiscal year budgeted income and expenses as developed and approved by the Board of Directors. The financial structure has a diversity of funding sources and reporting requirements that require detailed attention.

Operational Management: Provide direct oversight to all operations, including property management,

1. Lead human resources to ensure staff are well- trained and professional.
2. Evaluate the effectiveness of current programs, makes improvements as necessary, identify and develop programs to meet client and community needs, as well as seek resources to support desired programs.
3. Ability to understand the populations served, as well as have experience working with individuals with mental health and substance abuse conditions.

Marketing and Public Relations: Responsible for representing the organization throughout the community and State to ensure continued broad based support and a positive public image in a highly competitive non-profit sector environment.

Minimum Qualifications
Bachelor’s Degree, (Masters preferred) plus four years of Fundraising and Program Development Experience. Ten years of experience in non-profit management will be considered in lieu of a Degree.

  • High Energy and passion for Samaritan House’s mission is essential
  • Good communication and advocacy skills
  • Supervision skills and experience
  • Excellent computer skills
  • Ability to deal effectively with colleagues at the local and state level
  • Ability to analyze problem situations and focus on resolving them
  • Ability to understand the populations served
  • Experience with Mental Health and Substance Abuse conditions
  • Knowledge of local, state, and federal grant sources including foundations
  • Able to maintain professional boundaries and ethical standards with staff, clients and the general public

 



Vermont Community Development Association Fall Conference – 12/3 in Burlington

Posted November 23, 2015

The Vermont Community Development Association will be holding their 2015 Fall Conference on Thursday, December 3rd in Burlington. The theme of the event is ‘Workforce Housing – Springboard to Economic Vitality’ and the deadline for registration is Wednesday, November 25th. Read more about the event below:

Join us for the 2015 Fall conference of the Vermont Community Development Association (VCDA) which will be held on Thursday, December 3rd in a beautifully restored historic Armory, circa 1904, now an upscale boutique hotel in the heart of Burlington’s business and shopping district. The theme is Workforce Housing – Springboard to Economic Vitality. In this engaging conference the focus is on a hot economic development issue challenging communities across the state.

Setting the stage for the conversation will be a short keynote presentation of research results quantifying the challenge followed by targeted input from “Young Professionals”. Then the discussion:

VCDA, a membership organization providing Vermonters education and networking opportunities in Community Development since 1978, has invited professionals from around Vermont and neighboring states to present for discussion – first, the economic realities of workforce housing, then tools communities can utilize to be competitive, and after lunch, case studies of workforce housing development. The case studies on:

Downtown redevelopment
Mixed income rental
Employer – Developer collaboration
Net Zero construction to lower housing cost

Along with both panels, these will provide the basis for lively solution- oriented conversation.

The Bernice Murray award will be presented just before lunch. Make your reservation now and join us on December 3rd at the Hilton Garden Inn in Burlington!

To view the complete agenda and registration form, click here (PDF File).

 



North Avenue Co-op gains control of Farrington’s Mobile Home Park

Posted

Homeowners at Farrington’s Mobile Home Park are, starting today, managing
their community as a cooperative, taking a bold step toward securing their financial futures and improving their neighborhood.

The 117 lot community was put on the market for $5 million when its owner, Sandra Farrington, died last year. Given this high price tag and the community’s prime location on North Avenue, park residents worried that a developer would purchase the property and force them from their homes. Residents organized and formed North Ave Co-op with the help of the non- profits Cooperative Development Institute (CDI) and Champlain Valley of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO) as well as the City of Burlington. CDI helped the residents’ cooperative negotiate a deal with the Farrington Estate to purchase the community for $3.575 million, and it was financed through an innovative, first of its kind municipal bond issued by Vermont State Housing Authority, and purchased by Northfield Savings Bank.

Richard Williams, the Authority’s Executive Director, stated “VSHA is pleased to have had the opportunity to use its resources for such a worthwhile endeavor. This is the first time we have used bond financing for a project of this sort. Our participation in financing the mobile home park purchase fits the Authority’s statutory mission. We look forward to continue working with CDI and the resident cooperative.”

The Vermont Community Loan Fund provided secondary financing to complete the deal. As a part of meeting IRS restrictions, a CDI- affiliated non-profit was the buyer and borrower on the transaction, with the community run by the resident’s cooperative until the purchase loans are paid or refinanced, when the co-op will assume ownership of the land. CDI is a certified technical assistance provider in the ROC USA ™ Network, a nationwide network of non-profits founded to promote and support resident control of manufactured housing communities.

“It’s been a long journey to get here, but it is worth it” said North Avenue Co-op President Rik Fenton.

The Co-op’s Board of Directors has met weekly over the last year to organize residents and to develop a plan for operating the mobile home park. “The process of forming a co-op and buying the park has allowed many park residents to become closer as we have worked towards the important, common goal of saving our homes” added Co-op Secretary Jeanne Lieberman.

Multiple offices of the City of Burlington also assisted the cooperative, led by the office of Miro Weinberger as well as CEDO, Planning and Zoning, DPW and Code Enforcement. In addition, the Housing Trust Fund of the City of Burlington provided grants for due diligence expenses, funds to support the preservation of greenspace in the community, and a future commitment towards infrastructure replacement. The involvement of the City has been and will be key to the improvement of the community.

“Congratulations to the residents of the North Avenue Co-op for succeeding in their difficult, ambitious goal of owning the park and taking responsibility for its future,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger.

“Resident ownership of the park is also a great outcome for Burlington, as it preserves more than 100 affordable homes and will lead to the improvement of the park’s infrastructure and the protection of the neighborhood’s open space. Today’s closing culminates a year of sustained and comprehensive effort by park residents, Co-op board members, City Councilors, City staff, and many local, state, and national non-profit organizations. The City is proud to have played a supportive role in this important effort and congratulates and thanks the many critical partners in this success, including the Cooperative Development Institute of ROC USA, and CVOEO.”

“This is a great day for the North Avenue Co-op residents and for the Burlington community,” said City Councilor Dave Hartnett. “A resident-owned park is the best outcome for our City, and I am grateful for all of the work done to preserve this diverse neighborhood in the New North End.”

In addition to primary lenders, ROC USA Capital and Vermont Housing Conservation Board provided much needed funds for engineering and environmental costs.

North Ave Co-op is the sixth Vermont community converted by CDI, its 27th overall, and one of 171 nationwide in the ROC USA network. In these resident-owned communities, homeowners in the community each buy one low-cost share. Each household has one vote on matters of the community. The members elect a Board of Directors to act on day-to-day issues and vote as a membership on larger matters like the annual budget, by-laws and community rules.

The Cooperative Development Institute, formed in 1994, is the USDA-designated Northeast Center for Cooperative Business Development. CDI provides training and technical assistance to new and existing cooperatives in all business sectors, from agriculture and housing to employee ownership, throughout New England and New York. www.cdi.coop

 



Job Opportunity: VT DOC Corrections Housing Program Coordinator

Posted

This position, Corrections Housing Program Coordinator (Job Opening #618062), is open to all State employees and external applicants.

If you would like more information about this position, please contact Derek.Miodownik@vermont.gov.

Resumes will not be accepted via e-mail. You must apply online to be considered.

AHS BACKGROUND CHECKS: Candidates must pass any level of background investigation applicable to the position. In accordance with AHS Policy 4.02, Hiring Standards, Vermont and/or national criminal record checks, as well as DMV and adult and child abuse registry checks, as appropriate to the position under recruitment, will be conducted on candidates, with the exception of those who are current classified state employees seeking transfer, promotion or demotion into an AHS classified position or are persons exercising re-employment (RIF) rights.

General Job Description
This is a part-time Job Share position working 20 hours per week.

Coordinating, technical and consulting work in housing for the Department of Corrections, involving assistance to staff and community based non-profit agencies involved in the provision of housing services to clients of the Department of Corrections. Activities include the development of a Department housing strategic plan, monitoring of grants to local agencies, and the provision of training and technical assistance to correctional facility and field staff. All employees of the Agency of Human Services perform their respective functions adhering to four key practices: customer service, holistic service, strengths-based relationships and results orientation.

To read the full job specification for this position and apply online, please click here.

 



Report to Governor Shumlin From the Council on Pathways From Poverty

Posted November 13, 2015

Yesterday, the Council on Pathways From Poverty delivered their annual report to the Governor. Below is an excerpt from a VT Digger article on the report, which highlights the need for affordable housing and includes some words from VAHC Coordinator Erhard Mahnke, who is the Chair of the Council’s Housing and Homelessness sub-committee:

Advocates are backing a hotel occupancy fee to help the state tackle homelessness and affordable housing issues.

In the Pathways from Poverty Council’s annual report to the governor, delivered Thursday, advocates recommended imposing a $2 per night fee on hotel rooms that would go to supporting efforts to reduce homelessness.

The report highlighted affordable housing as “key to the well-being of Vermonters.” It was one of the four major focuses for the 30-member council’s report, along with education, administrative systems and economic security.

The council proposes that the state curb the housing affordability crisis by making new investments in permanent low-cost housing, providing more rental assistance and increasing supportive services.

“One of the challenges for advocates historically has been pointing out where there are problems and not always coming up with a funding solutions,” Chris Curtis, co-chair of the council, said Thursday.

The state has “an affordable housing crisis on its hands,” Curtis said, and the fee could make a big difference for the state in addressing that, including by moving away from the emergency housing motel voucher program.

Meanwhile, the fee would largely be shouldered by tourists, and is “less than the cost of a cup of coffee at many of these establishments,” he said.

Pathways member Erhard Mahnke, of the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, emphasized the report’s call for investment in constructing affordable housing. The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board has been underfunded in recent years, and “the chickens are coming home to roost,” he said. “We have a protracted affordable housing crisis.”

Linda Ryan, co-chair council and executive director of Samaritan House, a shelter in St. Albans, said Thursday that funding is critical to efforts to end family homelessness, and other major anti-poverty goals of the administration.

“We’re not going to do that unless we can raise some revenue,” she said.

Housing affordability is a major barrier to low-income Vermonters, she said. “As everyone knows, the wages are low and the rents are high,” Ryan said.

To read more of the article, click here. To read the full 23-page report to the Governor, click here.

 



Public Budget Forums to Receive Public Comments on the FY 2017 State Budget Development

Posted November 12, 2015

The Agency of Administration Department of Finance and Management is holding two public webinars to discuss the FY 17 state budget on November 23, 2015:

Secretary of Administration, Justin Johnson announced two open- to- the public webinars to discuss the FY 17 State budget on November 23, 2015. In accordance with Act 162 Sec E.100.1 of the 2012 session, public participation is required with the “development of budget goals, as well as general prioritization and evaluation of spending and revenue initiatives.”

This year’s meetings will be held through a webinar to allow for the public to provide input. As was the case last year, this year we will discuss different areas of state government at two separate meetings. On November 23rd at 1:00pm-3:00pm we will discuss Human Services. On November 23rd from 4:00pm to 6:00pm we will discuss General Government such as Education, Public Safety and Transportation.

The webinar will consist of brief introductory remarks by Secretary of Administration Justin Johnson, a short FY 2017 fiscal update with the remainder of the time devoted to questions and comments from the attendees taken through, previously submitted statements, phone calls and chat discussions. We appreciate your participation in the development of budget goals and prioritization and evaluation of spending and revenue initiatives for the State Budget. To assist the Finance and Management Department with prioritization and evaluation of spending and revenue initiatives, we are asking the public to answer a quick survey found at the link provided: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/P96RQNB

The webinar will consist of brief introductory remarks by Secretary of Administration Justin Johnson followed by a short FY 2017 fiscal update. The remainder of the webinar will consist of reviewing questions and comments from the attendees taken through previously submitted statements, phone calls and chat discussions.

This year we will accept written testimony on the public’s priorities. Please address to Secretary Justin Johnson with the subject Public Budget Development FY 17 on the envelope. 109 State Street, 5th Floor, Montpelier VT 05609-5901.

You may e-mail Aimee Pope for additional questions at aimee.pope@vermont.gov with the title Public Budget Meeting in the subject line.

To register for the Human Services webinar please go to https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3100977203441651970

To register for the General Government webinar please go to:
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2557553477018185730

For more information, visit the link here (PDF File).

 



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