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New Increased Income Limits for USDA Rural Development’s Single Family Housing Programs in Vermont

Posted June 28, 2016

USDA Rural Development has launched a Two-Tiered Income Limit Pilot for the Single Family Housing Programs in Vermont.  The pilot bands together the income limits of households with 1-4 members and with 5-8 members.  This banding significantly increases the range of households eligible for Rural Development’s Direct Home Loan Program and the Home Repair Loan and Grant Program.

More households are now able to apply for Rural Development’s affordable home financing.

Download the Vermont 504 Family Income Limit Worksheet.

Download the 502 Direct Home Loan Family Income Limit Worksheet.

Download the 502 Guaranteed Home Loan Family Income Limit Worksheet.

For more details on income banding in Vermont, review Rural Housing Service’s unnumbered letter or contact a Rural Development Housing Specialist in your region.

 



Coalition Launched to Increase Housing – Building Homes Together

Posted June 27, 2016

South Burlington, VT – Dozens of Chittenden County leaders in the fields of housing, business, local and state government, and social services announced this morning a new campaign to increase the production of housing and setting a target of 3,500 new homes created in the next five years.

The new coalition, called Building Homes Together, was formed by the Champlain Housing Trust, Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission and Housing Vermont and released an initial list of nearly 100 community leaders supporting the effort.

“Working together we will accomplish this goal,” said Brenda Torpy, CEO of Champlain Housing Trust. “For the sake of our communities, our workers and local economy, we will educate and advocate together for more housing.”

“The housing shortage in Chittenden County has been well noted with unhealthy vacancy rates and high rents,” added Charlie Baker, Executive Director of the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission. “Employers can’t find workers, and workers themselves spend more time in commutes and with a higher percentage of their paychecks on housing costs.”

Twenty percent of the 3,500 goal are targeted to be developed by nonprofit housing organizations. The remainder by private developers.

“This step-up in production will not just provide new homes and infrastructure for communities, it’ll be a boost to the economy and contribute to the tax base. Building homes together is a big win for all of us in Chittenden County,” said Nancy Owens, President of Housing Vermont.

The campaign will provide up-to-date data to the community on the need for and benefits of new housing, build cross-sector and public support for housing development, increasing access to capital, and supporting municipalities.

Individuals, businesses or organizations that wish to sign on and participate in the campaign are encouraged to by sending an email to Chris Donnelly at Champlain Housing Trust (chris@champlainhousingtrust.org). For more information, visit www.getahome.org/news/building-homes-together.

 



USDA Rural Development and Windham & Windsor Housing Trust Highlight Energy Efficient Modular Homes for Homeownership Month

Posted June 22, 2016

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Windham & Windsor Housing Trust (WWHT) celebrated National Homeownership Month at Putney resident Dennis Miller’s new home at Locust Hill Mobile Home Park Tuesday. Miller is the first homeowner to purchase an energy efficient modular home through USDA Rural Development’s Energy Efficient Manufactured Home Pilot Program.

“Manufactured homes have long offered an affordable housing option for many Vermonters, however older manufactured homes often have high maintenance and operational costs,” said Ted Brady, USDA Rural Development Vermont and New Hampshire State Director. “The energy cost savings of new manufactured and modular homes, combined with USDA’s long-term, low-rate, no-down-payment mortgages, offer existing and potential manufactured housing park residents new financing opportunities.”

Miller, a Putney resident employed by the Putney School, purchased a Vermont-made Net Zero Energy Capable VERMOD and placed it in the Locust Hill Mobile Home Park owned by Windham & Windsor Housing Trust. Miller’s purchase, coordinated by Windham & Windsor Housing Trust, was completed with financial support from Champlain Housing Trust, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, Efficiency Vermont and USDA Rural Development.

USDA Rural Development’s Energy Efficient Manufactured Home Pilot Program allows low income homebuyers to purchase a high-performance modular or manufactured home in a manufactured home park using a 30 to 33-year mortgage at 3 percent. Very low income homebuyers may be eligible for an interest subsidy down to 1 percent. Brady noted that park tenants seeking a mortgage to purchase a new home and site it on a leased manufactured park lot traditionally face short-term, high-interest mortgages.

Two models of high-performance homes have been approved for purchase through the pilot program, the Better Homes AHEAD Manufactured Home and the VERMOD modular home. Homeowners in Rural Development-approved parks are eligible for participation in the program. More information on Rural Development’s Energy Efficient Manufactured Home Pilot Program can be found on the Rural Development website or by contacting Jill Chapman at (802) 828-6022 or by email at jill.chapman@vt.usda.gov.

Rural Development and Windham & Windsor Housing Trust celebrated Miller’s new home and Homeownership Month during a service project in the Locust Hill Mobile Home Park. Park residents and community members joined staff in cleaning the park and in planting a community garden.

 



Vermont’s Rental Housing Affordability Gap Continues to Grow

Posted June 13, 2016

BURLINGTON, VT – In order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at the Fair Market Rent in Vermont, renters need to earn $21.13 an hour, or $43,947 a year. This is Vermont’s 2016 Housing Wage, revealed in the annual Out of Reach report released late last month by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a Washington, DC-based research and advocacy organization, and today by the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition.

The Housing Wage is the hourly wage a family must earn, working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, to be able to afford the rent and utilities for a safe and modest home in the private housing market (affordable means paying no more than 30% of income).  Every year, Out of Reach reports on the Housing Wage for all states, counties, and metropolitan areas in the country.

The report highlights the gap between what renters earn and what it costs to afford rent at fair market value.  With an estimated mean renter wage of $11.79 an hour, average Vermont renters are left $9.34 an hour short of what they need to earn to afford a decent place to live.  They can afford just $613 a month for rent and utilities while the average statewide Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,099.  Vermont has nearly 75,000 renter households.

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“This report shows exactly how hard it is for ordinary working Vermonters, for seniors, for people with disabilities and others living on fixed incomes to afford safe, stable housing,” said Erhard Mahnke, the Affordable Housing Coalition’s Coordinator.  “Vermonters have to earn more than twice the minimum wage for something that should be considered a basic human right, leaving them with little left over for other basic needs and just a step away from homelessness.”

Even though Vermont’s minimum wage has increased annually for the last several years year, it is not enough to pay for decent housing:  2.2 full-time jobs at minimum wage – or 88 work hours a week — are needed to afford the average two-bedroom apartment.  A full-time minimum wage worker in Vermont can only afford $499 a month for rent and utilities, leaving a gap of $600.

While some might consider this is an unfair comparison because they think most minimum wage workers are high school students, this is not the reality.  According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average age of a minimum wage worker is 35 years old, and 88% are at least 20 years old.  Half are older than 30, and about a third are at least 40.

“Our chronic housing shortage and affordability gap make it harder for low-income and vulnerable Vermonters to find and retain housing,” said Ted Wimpey, Director of the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity’s statewide Fair Housing Program and Chairperson of the Affordable Housing Coalition.  “To make true and lasting headway against this shortage and towards the goal of ending homelessness, we need significant new state and federal investments in affordable housing, coupled with rental assistance for the lowest income families, and supportive services for those with the greatest challenges.”

Unfortunately, federal funding levels for housing, rental assistance and supportive services are far below what they were five or six years ago.  The state of Vermont suffers from chronic budget shortfalls, preventing it from making the needed investments.  Key federal programs like HOME and Community Development Block Grants have been underfunded for years.  Congress still has not seen fit to restore all the rental assistance vouchers lost through sequestration.   The State has shortchanged the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, our primary tool for increasing the state’s affordable housing portfolio, for years.  It has been unable to make the necessary increases to such key housing safety net programs as the Vermont Rental Subsidy Program, which helps close the gap between what low-income Vermonters can afford and what’s available on the market.

Additional findings from Out of Reach:

  • The national Housing Wage is $20.30 in 2016.
  • Vermont is the state with the sixth largest shortfall between the two-bedroom housing wage and the renter wage.
  • Vermont is the seventh most expensive state for rural (non-metro) areas.
  • Vermont is the 13th most expensive state in the nation for renters.
  • The Housing Wage in the greater metropolitan area of Burlington is $26.08, almost $5.00 an hour higher than the state average.
  • The one-bedroom Housing Wage is $16.58 an hour ($34,479 a year), requiring 69 work hours a week at minimum wage to afford the monthly rent of $862.
  • Someone with a disability living on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can only afford $236 a month, leaving them $863 short for a two-bedroom, and $626 short for a one-bedroom apartment.

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For additional information, visit: www.nlihc.org/oor/.

For a link to the full press release and supplemental materials, click here.

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The Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition is a statewide membership organization dedicated to ensuring that all Vermonters have decent, safe and affordable housing, particularly the state’s low and moderate-income residents, elders, people living with homelessness, and people with disabilities. For more information on the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, visit
www.vtaffordablehousing.org
.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that assures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes. For more information on the National Low Income Housing Coalition, visit www.nlihc.org

 



VAHC is Seeking to Fill TWO AmeriCorps VISTA Positions!

Posted June 8, 2016

We are currently recruiting for two AmeriCorps VISTA positions!

Communications/Outreach Coordinator: Help grow our members’ capacity to meet the needs of low-income Vermonters. For a full description and information, click here. To apply, fill out the AmeriCorps application here AND send resume and cover letter with three references to renee.vahc@gmail.com.

Resident Organizer: Help empower affordable housing residents to engage with their communities. For a full description and information, click here. To apply, fill out the AmeriCorps application here AND send resume and cover letter with three references to corrinemarie.vahc@gmail.com.

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VAHC TV: Wrap-up of the State Legislative Session

Posted June 6, 2016

Erhard Mahnke speaks to Karen Lafayette, Advocate for the Vermont Low Income Advocacy Council on what the Legislature did affecting housing, homelessness and poverty issues. To watch the program, view the embedded link below or click here. You can also view the program on-air on Monday June 6, 13, or 20 at 2pm on Channel 17/Town Meeting TV.

 



Job Opportunity – Vermont HMIS Coordinator

Posted

The Institute for Community Alliances is hiring a full-time HMIS Coordinator in Vermont. We are seeking a hard-working, dedicated candidate with an interest in data and the ability to provide technical assistance to partner agencies throughout the state. A position description can be found here. Prospective candidates are encouraged to submit a resume and detailed cover letter to adminica@icalliances.org no later than Friday, June 24th.