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New Bipartisan Report Says Nation Ill-prepared for Expanding Senior Population, Highlights Vermont Housing/Health Model

Posted May 25, 2016

Support And Services at Home (SASH) Model Called a “Success Story”

A report released Monday, May 23rd by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) says the U.S. is on the verge of a “major expansion of its senior population.” The report holds that most older adults want to age independently in their homes and communities, yet most homes and communities can’t safely and affordably accommodate this desire. Recommendations include increasing the availability of service-enriched housing (like Vermont’s Support and Services at Home model) to improve health outcomes in seniors while cutting the growth in Medicare expenditures.

Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington, DC-based think tank seeking policy solutions from both parties, formed a Senior Health and Housing Task Force to evaluate the linkage between health care and housing. The resulting report, Healthy Aging Begins at Home, points to integration of healthcare and housing systems as a proven route to better management of chronic diseases, improved health outcomes, and a reduced financial burden on our health care system.

Healthy Aging Begins at Home recognizes Support and Services at Home (SASH), a Vermont model launched by Cathedral Square, as a successful way to coordinate community resources (healthcare providers, Area Agencies on Aging, mental health providers, and nonprofit housing organizations) in support of seniors who choose to age in their home. “Initial data demonstrate positive impacts on resident health, health care utilization, and a slowing of the growth of Medicare expenditures relative to two control groups.”

“This BPC report holds broad implications for the nation as seniors become a greater percentage of our overall population, “said Kim Fitzgerald, Cathedral Square CEO. “SASH is an important solution to challenges faced by our healthcare and housing systems.”

The full report is available at

For a link to the full press release, including contact information, click here.

For more news on the SASH program, click here to view a recent piece by VPR – “Vermont’s Innovative Elder Care Program, SASH, Cited As A National Model”


Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation Receives USDA Funding To Advance Economic Growth in Southern Vermont


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC) received a $230,000 grant Friday to bolster economic development in 11 Windham and Bennington communities. BDCC will provide technical assistance to local non-profits and long term strategic economic development planning for the region with the funding.

“The Southern Vermont Economy Project seeks to engage the relationships built during the post Irene recovery and enhance the capacity of these on-the-ground organizations to deliver economic development services to areas in need,” said USDA Rural Development Vermont and New Hampshire State Director Ted Brady. “BDCC recognizes that communities are stronger together than apart and will use this project to rebuild southern Vermont’s economic foundation.”

BDCC’s Executive Director Adam Grinold said that the Southern Vermont Economy Project will focus its efforts on community economic development over the course of two years. With the grant, the non-profit will hire an economic development professional to provide technical support in Rupert, Peru, Searsburg, Readsboro, Bennington, Rockingham, Bellows Falls, Wardsboro, Marlboro, Halifax and Brattleboro. In 2015 the Vermont Legislature created the Southern Vermont Economic Development Zone.  The BDCC will invest these funds  to help build a framework for regional cooperation by and between public sector and private sector partners within the zone concerning economic development initiatives; workforce training, retention, and recruitment; and sustainable business investment.  Executive Director Grinold further explains, “We look forward to working closely with the many organizations across Southern Vermont, helping align their efforts where appropriate, aiming to reduce redundancies and improve efficiency across the region”

USDA Rural Development funded BDCC’s project through the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) grant program that supports non-profit organizations in improving housing, community facilities, and community and economic development in rural areas.  BDCC was one of 23 organizations nationwide to receive part of more than $4 million in funding announced Friday. The USDA is currently accepting applications for the RCDI program.  For the 2016 grant application and more information on the RCDI program visit


Resident-owners of Westgate Approve New Partnership

Posted May 20, 2016

The tenant-led non-profit Westgate Housing in Brattleboro recently approved creating a new partnership with the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust. Below is an article from The Commons with more on this story:

At their annual meeting, residents of the Westgate housing community unanimously approved creating a new partnership with the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust.

The new partnership will be between the tenant-led nonprofit Westgate Housing Inc. (WHI) that owns and manages the property and the Housing Trust.

Westgate will remain a tenant-owned property, said Westgate board President and resident Julie Maloof.

The Housing Trust isn’t taking over ownership or management of the property. Instead, the organization is stepping in as a partner to the residents to provide guidance and oversee large financial projects such as future rehabilitation of the property, Maloof and Community Director Jon Hoover said.

Maloof said the Trust takes the place of longterm partner Housing Vermont of Burlington.

Housing Vermont helped Westgate tenants purchase the housing community from private investors in 2000. According to materials from the Westgate board, Housing Vermont always intended to turn its portion of the Westgate partnership over to another organization.

Windham & Windsor Housing Trust seemed the natural choice since it already owned the land Westgate sits on and has provided helpful guidance over the years, Maloof and Hoover said.

To continue reading the full article, click here.


Action to End Homelessness in Washington County Launches Campaign


Congratulations to VIA of Central Vermont, which kicked off a “Housing First” campaign to end homelessness in Washington County by 2020. Their Action on April 26 featured commitments from seven housing and mental health advocates to join forces with the faith communities in Montpelier and Barre to obtain the necessary resources and support staff to provide housing for those who are currently homeless.

The Times Argus ran a story on their front page about the Action, which you can see here. A video of the 80-minute event can also be seen on ORCA media.

Pathways to Housing is the lead organization in Vermont that urges a housing first model, which focuses on providing housing for those in need before attempting any other services, and then combines that housing with supportive treatment in the areas of mental and physical health, substance abuse, education, and employment.

VIA will sponsor a workshop, “Housing 101”, to prepare those interested in participating in an organizing campaign. The workshop features a presentation by Hilary Melton, Executive Director of Pathways VT, about the Housing First model, as well as trainings by VIA leaders on Building People Power, Growing Relationships through Intentional Conversations, Continuing the Conversation on Social Media and Sharing and Collecting Stories. They will end the workshop with break-out sessions to brainstorm strategies in bringing this vision to reality. Click here to reserve your space!

Day and Time: Saturday, June 4th, 2016, from 9 am to 12 noon. Address: Old Labor Hall, 46 Granite St. Barre, VT 05641. For questions, contact (802) 651-8889 or


VHCB Awards $4.06 Million for Rental Housing, Homeownership and Land Conservation

Posted May 13, 2016

On May 11, the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board made funding commitments totaling $4,067,320 to 10 organizations to carry out projects in Burlington, South Burlington, Essex, Barre, Montpelier, Bennington, Arlington, Shaftsbury, Putney, Brattleboro, Athens, Rockingham, and Westminster. The VHCB funds will be used to construct or rehabilitate 172 affordable apartments, provide affordable homeownership to five households, conserve nearly 80 acres of land, and to restore an historic building.

Champlain ValleyThe City of Burlington, the Vermont Land Trust and the Champlain Housing Trust have reached agreement on a plan to protect 12 acres of open space and secure public access to Lake Champlain while also adding 149 affordable apartments.

“Yesterday’s funding commitment from VHCB is another major milestone in the achievement of the City of Burlington’s long-standing goals to preserve open space and create needed homes on this important community site, while creating new connections between the Old North End and the waterfront,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “Thank you to VHCB for this critical funding and crucial partnership in this community project.”

The 12-acre parcel, with a 900-foot sand beach, bluffs, woods and open fields, will be conserved by the Vermont Land Trust with $500,000 in VHCB funding. The parcel will be owned by the City and operated as a public park. Planned uses for the acreage include improved beach and bike path access, existing community gardens, a new playing field, and potential community use of Redstone Cottage, a historic stone building. Other funding for the conservation project came from the City’s Conservation Fund, private fundraising, foundation grants and a federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant.

The conserved parcel was subdivided from 27 acres that was sold by Burlington College last year. On the remaining 15 acres, 660 homes will be built in a mixed-income development. The Champlain Housing Trust and Housing Vermont will use a $700,000 VHCB award to construct 36 family rental apartments in the first phase of a 146-unit development on a 2-acre site along North Avenue. Additional affordable family and senior apartments and single family homes will be constructed on the site in four phases beginning in Spring 2017.

Cathedral Square Corporation will use $395,000 in federal HOME funds awarded by VHCB to construct 35 new apartments for seniors in the planned  new town center of South Burlington. Part of a larger development, the 4-floor building to be constructed by developers Snyder/Braverman and purchased by Cathedral Square will feature common areas, underground parking, shared kitchen facilities, lounge areas, laundry rooms, an exercise room and resident storage areas.  The site will be served by the SASH Program, which coordinates health care services for residents.

The Champlain Housing Trust will use $135,000 in VHCB funds to provide $27,000 purchase subsidies to five households buying affordable condominiums at Fort Ethan Allen in Essex. The five homes are among 31 units purchased by CHT from the University of Vermont in January 2016. Seventeen homes are located in the brick buildings along “Officer’s Row” that originally provided homes for sergeants and their families. There will be 19 affordable condominiums when rehabilitation (to include new flooring, paint, countertops and appliances) is complete.  The location is close to the bus line, shopping and services, and the open land at the Fort Ethan Allen parade grounds creates an attractive site for families.

Central Vermont – On Main Street in Montpelier, Downstreet Housing & Community Development and Housing Vermont will develop 18 apartments in the upper stories of the historic French Block, above Aubuchon Hardware.  The upper two floors have been vacant since the 1940s. The additional housing will help ease Montpelier’s tight rental market where the vacancy rate currently is around 1 percent.

Mayor John Hollar said, “This development is so important to the future of Montpelier. We are very, very pleased to be working with Downstreet on this opportunity to reclaim community space for affordable housing and continue our efforts to promote a vibrant downtown. ”

The apartments will require reconfiguration, new mechanical systems, insulation and structural work. Energy efficient water heaters, a heat pump system, LED lighting and air sealing will keep energy costs low. The mixture of one-bedroom and studio apartments will serve the large demand from one- and two-person households and the downtown location, with easy access to services and shopping, will be convenient for residents without cars. $600,000 in VHCB and HOME program funding will be complemented by Low-Income Housing and Historic Preservation tax credit equity and other funding sources. Construction is expected to begin in Spring 2017.

In Barre, behind the Socialist Party Labor Hall, a cultural and union organizing hub for Italian granite workers immigrating to Barre in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a new enterprise will be established on the site of a former bakery built by Italian labor union members. ReSource YouthBuild, Spaulding High School, the culinary arts program at Capstone Community Action and the Barre Historical Society will collaborate to offer teen dropouts an opportunity to gain skills—first by working on restoring the former bakery and building a wood-fired oven, and then by learning to bake at the reconditioned RiseUp Bakery, while also earning their diplomas. A VHCB grant of $50,000 to the Barre Historical Society will help with the first rehab phase to include flooring, roofing, masonry and window repairs.

Southern Vermont – In Bennington, Arlington and Shaftsbury, Shires Housing and Housing Vermont will use $325,154 in VHCB funding and $179,846 in federal HOME funds to redevelop three rental housing sites with 22 apartments. The apartments were acquired nearly 20 years ago. They will be refinanced and energy improvements and rehabilitation will bring the buildings to current standards, reducing operating costs and increasing comfort. Energy savings following the work are expected to total 50%-73% of the pre-rehab energy costs.

With a VHCB grant of $68,820, the Windham Hill Pinnacle Association will purchase and conserve 33 acres of forested land inAthens, Rockingham and Westminster. WHPA will donate a conservation easement on an adjacent, 35-acre parcel that they will purchase with locally raised funds. The lands will add to a 1,800-acre nature preserve with more than 20 miles of trails running along a ridgeline west of the Connecticut River. The trail system is used by schools, residents and visitors and the conserved lands protect a wide swath of wildlife habitat.

The Bradley House is a residential care home in a former mansion overlooking the Connecticut River in Brattleboro. With $504,000 in VHCB funding, the owners, Holton Homes, Inc., will work with the Cathedral Square Corporation to upgrade and expand the facility, adding a wing with seven additional rooms, a new kitchen and dining room. In the original mansion the rooms will be reconfigured to include private baths. The building will be well insulated and new windows and a biomass system will be added for heating and hot water. The home is located in a quiet residential neighborhood within one-half to two miles of the post office, library, hospital, banks and stores.

On a 5-acre site on Old Depot Road in Putney, the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust and Housing Vermont will use $495,000 in federal HOME program funds and $80,000 in VHCB funding to build 18 family rental apartments in three town-house style buildings. The site is served by public transportation and is within one-half mile of the Putney Food Coop, community gardens, the library, and a post office with easy access to the interstate highway. The energy efficient design will use a biomass system for heat and hot water. The buildings will be arranged around a central green. Also wrapped into this project is the redevelopment of Noyes House, an historic home on Kimball Hill, overlooking the village. The rooms will be reconfigured to create four, 1-bedroom apartments and three bedrooms with supportive services provided.

For a link to this press release, click here.


FHLB Boston Announces Record Funding for 2016 AHP

Posted May 12, 2016

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston is pleased to announce at least $27.2 million in subsidy is available for the 2016 Affordable Housing Program.

For those interested in the 2016 AHP competitive application process, the Bank is hosting multiple training sessions throughout New England from May through August. These trainings are offered for housing partners, developers, member financial institutions, and other stakeholders interested in applying for funding in the upcoming funding round.

Here is a list of the AHP trainings in the region:

Wednesday May 25    Portsmouth, NH

Tuesday, June 14        Newton, MA

Thursday June 16       Bretton Woods, NH

Tuesday July 19          Boston, MA

Thursday July 21        Springfield, MA

The online application period runs from July 25 to September 13. Decisions will be announced mid-December.


Register for the upcoming AHP training sessions.

Webinars are available for member financial institutions, revolving loan funds, and rental and homeownership initiatives between May 19 and August 24 (For those unable to attend a session or who need an additional refresher after attending a session)

Download the 2016 Round Announcement, 2016 Notice of Changes, or the 2016 AHP Implementation Plan.

For more information consult the FHLB Boston’s website or contact your community investment manager.


Ceremony Launches Vermont’s First, Multi-Family Passive House Building

Posted May 6, 2016

Milton, VT—State and local officials, and leaders from finance and nonprofit housing organizations, marked the construction start of an innovative, affordable housing community for seniors at a groundbreaking ceremony on May 2nd.

Elm Place is located at 60 Bombardier Road in Milton and will be Vermont’s first multi-family building certified to Passive House standards. The super energy-efficient building will use roughly 65% less energy than those built to today’s standard codes. This efficiency is achieved through better windows and doors, added insulation, and improved air sealing.

Elm Place, developed by Cathedral Square, is expected to open in March, 2017, and will provide thirty, affordable, one-bedroom apartments for low-income seniors. Amenities are to include covered parking, laundry facilities, on-site storage, exercise room, and more. Rent will include heat, air conditioning, hot water, laundry and electricity. Support And Services at Home (SASH) will be offered to residents at no cost. SASH is a care coordination program which gives residents access to the care they need to stay healthy while living comfortably and safely at home.

Kim Fitzgerald, Cathedral Square’s CEO, said, “the Passive House focus on sustainability and human comfort aligns well with our vision for affordable senior housing. It’s very exciting to reduce our carbon footprint while increasing comfort and quality of life.”

Liz Gamache, Director of Efficiency Vermont, said, “So, as Elm Place is indeed a project that will provide a viable, healthy and affordable place for seniors to live for years to come, and benefits that go beyond the four walls, we see the reduction of economic and environmental burdens — not just for the residents, but their families and also future generations.”

Elm Place development costs were funded by sources including Vermont Housing Finance Agency, People’s United Bank, the Vermont Community Development Program, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the HOME Investment Partnership, The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Efficiency Vermont, the TD Charitable Foundation, the charitable giving arm of TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, Commons Energy, Enterprise Community Partners, The Housing Assistance Council, Vermont Gas, and in-kind support provided by the Town of Milton.


To read more about Elm Place, click here.


New Affordable Energy Efficient Housing Coming to Addison County


Addison County Community Trust and Cathedral Square are helping to turn what was a blighted mobile home park into a net zero energy rental community that will provide new affordable and environmentally friendly housing options for local residents. Below is coverage of this story from

Vermonters are facing a shortage when it comes to affordable housing.

Leaving some families with limited living options.

But soon, new affordable housing is coming to Addison County, and it’s also environmentally friendly.

Today was demolition day of the old Gevry Mobile Home Park in Waltham, making way for the new McKnight Lane neighborhood.

A once forgotten neighborhood outside the city of Vergennes has been empty for six years.

And on Wednesday the Gevry Mobile Home Park began its new life.

Katie Forleo of Cathedral Square says: “Cathedral Square and ACCT… are collaborating to redevelop this mobile home park.”

Forleo works for the non-profit Cathedral Square and says this project is in phase one, and fourteen homes will be removed and will eventually make way for the McKnight Lane neighborhood.

“There is going to be fourteen high performance modular homes and they are all being manufactured in the state of Vermont.” says Forleo

The total cost of the redevelopment? Three and half million dollars.

Forleo says “There will be a mix of two and three bedroom homes. And it will all be afford able housing for families, which is filling a void within this community.”

Addison County lacks in available affordable housing for families, and the construction of McKnight Lane could be a small step in the right direction.

Chris Falk of Cathedral Square says: “Within months this place will look beautiful.”

Falk says a lot has to be done before the first model home arrives June 27th?

First they have to remove all the debris.

Next will come remediation of any contaminates in the soil

“All the material used in the units are going to be sustainable, such as bamboo flooring. We will have a sidewalk in place that will let the residence walk into town.” says Falk

The goal is to become a net zero neighborhood by powering the homes from renewable energy sources that net a zero dollar annual energy cost.

The completion of the McKnight neighborhood is scheduled for the end of this November.

For a link to the full story, including video, click here.


Sanders Announces Vermont Secures $3 Million For Affordable Housing

Posted May 5, 2016

BURLINGTON, Vt., May 4 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders today announced Vermont will receive $3 million from the National Housing Trust Fund. The funds are part of $174 million that is being dispersed nationally to build, preserve, and rehabilitate affordable rental housing. Sanders helped lead a 15-year effort to pass and fund the National Housing Trust Fund.

“Since my time as mayor of Burlington, increasing the availability of affordable housing in Vermont has been one of my top priorities,” Sanders said. “After 15 years of fighting for the National Housing Trust Fund, I am very pleased to see all 50 states receive funds to provide housing for people who are most in need.”

The Trust Fund is the first new federal affordable housing program in decades, and the only one to provide affordable housing for extremely low-income households. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, more than 7.2 million low-income households spend more than half of their income on rent and utilities.

“When you spend half of your money on rent, that leaves very little for other necessities such as food and medicine,” Sanders said.

Sanders first introduced legislation to create the National Housing Trust Fund in 2001, based on the success of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Trust Fund. Congress passed the legislation in 2008, but the Trust Fund did not receive funding until now. The National Housing Trust Fund is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and is funded through a small percentage of profits made by government-sponsored agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Sheila Crowley, who retired recently after serving for 17 years as the president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said the announcement was “a great victory” for homeless and poor families. “At long last, the National Housing Trust Fund will provide states with funds to begin ameliorating the shortage of affordable housing. I am very grateful to Senator Bernie Sanders for championing the NHTF since the first days of our campaign in 2001.”

A Sanders provision in the legislation created a minimum threshold, which ensures smaller states such as Vermont receive at least $3 million from the fund.

Erhard Mahnke, coordinator of Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, said, “This is the first new funding for affordable housing in over 25 years and will create much needed homes for the poorest, most vulnerable Vermonters. We are extremely grateful to Senator Sanders for his longtime leadership role in creating the Trust Fund, which is patterned after our own successful Vermont model.”

To read more about the announcement, click here.


Fair Market Rents Revised Up 16 Percent in Burlington Metro Area

Posted May 4, 2016

Effective May 3rd, Fair Market Rent standards in Chittenden, Franklin, and Grand Isle have been revised. Below is a statement from the Vermont Housing Finance Agency:

Thanks to a local survey commissioned by Vermont State Housing Authority, the Fair Market Rent standards used for HUD’s Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers in Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties will be revised upward effective today. The levels established in December 2015 by HUD were 16 percent lower than the new levels.

The survey of rents in the Burlington metro area was funded by VHFA and other partner agencies. Read more.


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