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Retail and Apartment Complex Planned for Newport City will Bring Affordable Housing

Posted April 27, 2017

A developer released plans for a four-story, $6.5 retail and apartment complex for Newport City. One developer, Ernie Pomerleau, says the project will help bring affordable housing to the downtown area of Newport City.

Formerly, the space was going to be used for a hotel using EB-5 development funds, but after the scandal broke out, was left vacant. This retail and apartment space will fill the block that has been left.

Read more here.

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Neighbors Urge Delay for Burlington’s Colchester Ave. Housing Plan


The proposed 75-unit apartment complex for Burlington’s Colchester Ave is in its final stage of vetting by the city’s Development Review Board. However, on April 18, neighbors urged city regulators to delay the approval of the complex. Residents want to know more about the complex’s impact on traffic, soils and stormwater before the construction starts.

As for soils, some neighbors worry erosion will only increase, and others worry about soil contamination. Residents are worried about the placement of the complex, worrying that the building’s placement will break the spirit of the neighborhood, as a lot would be jammed into a small space. Additionally, some are concerned about traffic congestion.

On the other hand, the creation of this complex would create at least 11 affordable apartments, and could make a substantial contribution to quality of life, as people could live closer to where they study or work (such as UVM, or the hospital).

Read more here.

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Governor Scott’s $35 Million Housing Bond Supported by Mayors


The Governor’s proposed $35 million Housing Revenue Bond, which the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition supports, is currently in the legislature. The bod would be administered by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, or VHCB. The Vermont Mayors Coalition announced on April 20, that lawmakers should take up this bill, as it would bring welcome funds to help grow Vermont’s affordable housing stock while interest rates and construction costs would still be able to remain low. The Coalition added that we need an increase in housing to protect the most vulnerable residents and senior citizens in all parts of the state.

The Mayors believe this bond will help in both the short-term and the long-term. They say the time to act is now, as benefits will include being able to create new construction jobs and leverage both private and public investment. Further, the Coalition noted that it will give Vermont a chance to revitalize and reinvest in in its communities.

Read more here.

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Sanders Visits Milton Cathedral Square Development

Posted April 13, 2017

Sen. Bernie Sanders visited Cathedral Square’s new Development, Elm Place, in Milton on Tuesday. Elm Place is Vermont’s first housing facility built to “Passive House” standards; the building has no central heating system, but is able to maintain its temperature even during the coldest winter days due to a state of the art ventilation system. The amount of heat used for the entire building is equivalent to that of a single family home.

Sanders remarked upon the importance of reducing prescription drug prices and funding services like SASH – support and services at home – that allow people to age in place while providing them with necessary primary care. The programs serves to keep seniors out of the emergency room while keeping Medicare costs down.

To find out more about Elm Place, read the Milton Independent’s coverage of Sen. Sanders’ visit.


Housing Bond Proposal in Jeopardy


A proposal to issue a $35 million housing bond that would be administered by the Vermont Housing Conservation Board is on the table at the State House, with proponents pushing to keep the measure from being cast aside until the next legislative session. Advocates held a press conference yesterday discussing the importance of the bond and the impact that it can have on Vermont’s housing stock.

The bond would be administered by VHCB, required $2.5 million in servicing each year. On the importance of VHCB being the administrator, John Vogel writes, “Having a competent entity administer the funds is critical because financing affordable housing can be mind boggling in its complexity, often involving ten different layers of City, State, Federal and private capital. VHCB has a great track record in navigating this financial maze and figuring out how to fill critical gaps that allow worthwhile projects to move forward.”

Read more from VPR here.

Read Vermont Biz’ overview of the plan and its impact here.


VT House Expands Temporary Housing Eligibility to Kids and Pregnant Women

Posted April 10, 2017

Although the House voted to end the Cold Weather Exemption program for homeless folks in an effort to balance the budget, the House has voted to allow all pregnant women and families with children to access temporary housing.

Under current conditions, there are exceptions regarding pregnant women and children as to who are considered “vulnerable” people. Right now, only pregnant women in their third trimester and families with children younger than six can qualify for housing for up to 28 days as “vulnerable” people. Families with children over the age of six need to qualify under a point-based system. The change expands the rules to include women at any stage of pregnancy and any minor children.

Read more from the Burlington Free Press here.


The Senate Appropriations Committee May Scrap $35 Million Housing Bond


At the end of March, the committee decided to delay the consideration of S.100, this year’s omnibus housing bill. Included in the bill is Scott’s proposed  housing bond, which would cost the state $2.5 million per year for 20 years. Just the week before, the Senate Finance Committee decided to pay off the bond through the $2 occupancy tax on Vermont hotels, motels and Airbnbs.

Tim Ashe, Senate President Pro Tempore, said the next step is to work with the committees on Appropriations, Finance and Economic Development to figure out whether to take the bond, and thus the occupancy fee, out of the bill.

Ashe said overall, Senators are in support of affordable housing, and saw the occupancy as a funding source for affordable housing. However, Ashe stated that now may not be the time for anything new, as Governor Scott has stated repeatedly that he will not support any new taxes or fees.

Ashe further noted that the government is trying to find a way to support affordable housing, without the funds coming from an existing program.

Read more here.


Ben Carson: Housing to be Included in Infrastructure Bill


HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson spoke at the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Federal Policy Forum, asserting that housing will be included in the Trump Administration’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill. The proposed $6.2 billion cut to HUD’s budget have many concerned that many housing programs would be negatively affected or even completely cut. Carson is assuring advocates that the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, that has yet to be revealed, will be a significant source of the HUD funding. Read more here.

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14 New Affordable Apartments are Created Through COTS Renovated Building


After a $8.2 million renovation to their building on 95 North Avenue, COTS re-opened their permanent residence. The building consists of 14 new affordable apartment; a permanent home for COTS’ Daystation, the nonprofit’s daytime center for homeless adults to connect with services; and renovated COTS’ program spaces for its homelessness prevention initiative. With this new building intact, COTS will be able to serve over 2,600 people facing homelessness.

COTS will move into the building on the week of April 9, and being to offer its services on April 13. Of the 14 apartments, seven will be fully furnished and for people who are homeless, or at the risk of becoming homeless, with be offered service-enriched housing. The other seven apartments will be used as permanent affordable housing. This means, that households with incomes below 60 percent of the HUD area median income will be able to move into these apartments.

Funding for the renovation came from various sources. Housing Vermont’s Green Mountain Housing Equity VI invested $3.2 million in the project, while the Merchants Bank contributed a loan through the Affordable Housing Program of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston. More funding came from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, Vermont Community Development through the Town of Williston, HUD’s HOME program administered by the City of Burlington, Burlington Housing Trust Fund, Vermont Gas and Burlington Electric.

Learn more here.