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Burlington to Receive $2.9 million for Lead Program

Posted June 30, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 29, 2017
Contact:  Katie Vane
802.734.0617

Mayor Miro Weinberger, Federal Delegation and CEDO Representatives Announce $2.9 Million CEDO Burlington Lead Program Award
Funding to Make Homes Safer for Children, Support Hazard Assessments and Remediation in 162 Housing Units

Burlington, VT –Today Mayor Miro Weinberger, CEDO Director Noelle MacKay, and representatives of the federal delegation announced the Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO) Burlington Lead Program will be awarded $2.9 million in program funding, one of only 28 Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control grant recipients in the nation. As part of the award, CEDO will also receive $400,000 in Healthy Homes grant funds that will leverage the Lead Program’s presence to reduce other housing-related health hazards. Participants in the press announcement gathered at the property of owner Eric Lafayette, whose multi-family rental unit on 184 North Street benefited from the Lead Program in 2015. Using lead-based paint funds, the CEDO Lead Program replaced old, drafty windows with new energy-efficient windows, repaired interior and exterior walls and siding, and repainted the exterior.

Lead poisoning is a serious hazard for children. It can cause significant health damage that is linked to impairments in behavior and learning. Since 2003, CEDO’s Burlington Lead Program has made 584 homes lead-safe. With this new funding, and in partnership with area nonprofit groups, CEDO will build upon its success and perform hazard assessments and remediation on 162 pre-1978 rental and owner occupied housing units in Burlington and Winooski.

In a joint statement, Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressman Peter Welch said: “As Vermonters, we have been proud to call our state one of the healthiest in the nation, which is in no small part due to our efforts to ensure that everyone has access to safe, affordable housing.  Now, more than ever, we need to be investing in programs that make this critical link between health and housing. That is why, in this year’s federal appropriations bill, we worked to prevent efforts to cut funding for lead hazard control and achieve a $10 million increase for the HUD Healthy Homes Initiative. Burlington CEDO has been a strong steward of these funds for years, and we are glad to know Burlington will continue its role as a national leader in this effort.”

“At a time of uncertainty about the federal government’s future role in solving pressing local challenges, I am grateful for the tremendous work of our Congressional delegation in helping secure millions of dollars to protect our children from lead poisoning and other housing hazards,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “This grant will allow CEDO to continue its outstanding work making our homes and communities safer.”

“CEDO’s mission has always focused on helping the most vulnerable in our City, and our Burlington Lead Program provides low and moderate income families with a way to reduce lead paint hazards in their homes, giving children a healthy environment to grow and thrive,” said CEDO Director Noelle MacKay. “This award validates the difference our staff and many community partners have made in our community over the past 14 years. Many thanks to Senators Leahy and Sanders as well as Representative Welch for helping Burlington reduce lead hazards for its most vulnerable.”

“We are thrilled to have received the City’s fifth Lead Hazard Control Grant from HUD, and our community is extremely fortunate to have secured another three years of funding to support this critical work,” said CEDO Housing Program Manager Todd Rawlings. “Not only do occupants enjoy a lead-safe unit at project completion, but property owners benefit from grants and forgivable loans for property improvements such as new windows and freshly painted exteriors.”

“I don’t see any reason why a landlord would hold back,” said Burlington property owner Eric Lafayette. “If there’s a program that’s going to make our places safer and look better, then it’s a no brainer.”

The Burlington Lead Program is now accepting applications for Burlington and Winooski properties. To apply and/or learn more information about lead-based paint or other home health hazards, call CEDO’s Burlington Lead Program at 802-865-LEAD or visit www.burlingtonleadprogram.org.

Funding comes from the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, which promotes local efforts to eliminate lead-based paint hazards from homes in Burlington and Winooski and educate the public about the dangers of lead-based paint.

Read more from VTDigger or the Burlington Free Press.

 



VHCB Will Use $35 Million in Bond Funds to Address Vermont’s Housing Shortage

Posted June 28, 2017

Our friends at VHCB have asked us to pass along the good news on the new $35 million housing bond, which became law yesterday when Governor Scott signed the FY 18 Appropriations Act. This measure will have a tremendous impact on making safe, affordable housing available to low- and middle-income Vermonters. We are excited to work with all of our community partners as the process to develop new affordable homes moves forward. Many thanks to everyone who helped make this happen, from the Governor and his team, to the Speaker, Pro Tem and numerous key lawmakers, VHCB, VHFA, and all our community partners who helped advocate.

——————————–

PRESS RELEASE
June 28, 2017
Contact: Gus Seelig, Executive Director, 828-3251, gus@vhcb.org
Jen Hollar, Director of Policy and Special Projects: cell: 793-7346; Jennifer@vhcb.org

The Vermont Housing & Conservation Board will use $35 million in new funding for the creation of rental housing and home ownership opportunities for 550-650 low- and moderate-income Vermonters over the next two to three years. The bold, new initiative represents the largest state investment in housing in more than a decade.  It was first proposed by Governor Phil Scott in his January budget address, gained strong support in the legislature, and was signed into law today.

Governor Scott said, “When workers are unable to find adequate, affordable housing, economic growth is constrained. Vermont has a very low rate of rental vacancy and we need to increase access to homeownership. This effort will ratchet up the production of new housing to serve households at a wide range of incomes, spur economic growth, create jobs, and have a significant impact on Vermont’s supply of housing.”

Tim Ashe, President Pro Tempore of the Vermont Senate, said, “I’ve seen the housing shortage up close. In my time at Cathedral Square, we’d fill up new buildings within hours. Literally. So when I met with Governor Scott in November and we both expressed a strong interest in seeing more housing supply, I knew it was a matter of how we’d do it, not if we’d do it. I want to thank Senators Mullin, Sirotkin, Balint, Baruth, and Clarkson and Representative Head and her team for their hard work to see it to the finish line.”

Helen Head, Chair of the Vermont House General, Housing and Military Affairs Committee, said, “Vermont’s housing crunch has been well-documented. According to a study commissioned by the legislature last summer, we can reduce homelessness dramatically with a targeted approach, creating more housing with support services along with housing for the lowest income households. Middle income households also struggle to find housing. This housing initiative will address the needs of a wide range of Vermonters and we’re proud to support it.”

Gus Seelig, Executive Director of VHCB, said, “We appreciate the support of the Governor and the Legislative Leadership in advancing this exciting initiative.  The first 100 homes should be under construction across the state before the end of the year.”

The bond funds will be matched with state, federal, and private sources to leverage approximately $2-$3 for every one dollar of bond funds, resulting in $70-100 million in additional resources for housing development. Spending on affordable housing yields multiple benefits across the economy. The $35 million housing bond will also act as a stimulus package, generating millions of dollars of economic activity through the creation of jobs and the purchase of goods. At least 25% of the housing will be targeted to households with incomes below $35,000 and another 25% will be targeted to middle-income Vermonters earning $55,000-$83,000 annually (for 4-person households). The balance of the funds will be awarded to projects based on community needs, applications received and the availability of resources for leverage.

“Every night, our shelter, just like shelters across the state, is full of people who need and deserve a home,” said Sara Kobylenski, Executive Director of the Upper Valley Haven, based in White River Junction. “We have allowed ourselves to slide into an alarming housing deficit, and the most vulnerable people in our communities are suffering for it. The housing bond is a timely investment that will improve the lives of many Vermonters.”

“Housing construction is critical piece of our economic engine, and this proposal promises to create hundreds of good paying jobs. It’s also vital to employers who say time and time again how hard it is for their employees or prospective employees to find adequate, affordable housing,” said Tom Torti, President and CEO of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce and board member of the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS).

In collaboration with the Department of Housing and Community Development, VHCB is gathering input on the highest priority housing needs and potential projects in regional meetings across the state. VHCB will be accepting applications and funding developments for the construction and rehabilitation of rental housing and single-family homes with an emphasis on creating new homes.

The revenue bond will be issued by the Vermont Housing Finance Agency. It is expected to yield $33-34 million in proceeds and will be paid by a $2.5 million in annual revenue from the property transfer tax over 20 years, through 2039.

______________________________________________________________________________
Sources: The Vermont Futures Project of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, January 2017; Roadmap to End Homelessness, The Corporation for Supportive Housing, December 2016; Vermont’s Statewide Housing Needs Assessment by Bowen National Research, 2014
______________________________________________________________________________

VHCB makes loans and grants for the creation of affordable housing and the conservation of agricultural and recreational lands, forest land, natural areas and historic properties. www.vhcb.org

Read this synopsis of the Housing Revenue Bond Initiative.

Read more about the Governor’s budget and the housing bond from the Burlington Free Press.

 



Memorandum from DCF Regarding Future of General Assistance Housing Program

Posted

Memorandum

To: Housing and Homelessness Providers and Advocates
From: Ken Schatz
Re: Update on General Assistance Emergency Housing
Date: June 28, 2017

_________________________________________________________________

The purpose of this memo is to provide you an update on the challenges we are facing with the General Assistance Emergency Housing (GA) budget. Please find accompanying materials here.

Program Update:

Over the last two years, I have greatly appreciated your work to create new alternatives to the General Assistance Motel Voucher program. Our collective hope has been to provide a better service delivery system to individuals and families who are homeless, and realize savings in the GA Emergency Housing budget. Since embarking on this project with all of you, we are happy to report that more than 16 GA funded community investments have been implemented in the past two years.

Due to a continued increase in homelessness in our state overall; spikes in a few key communities; a colder winter with more Cold Weather Exception eligible nights; and the projects not saving as much GA funding as projected – in FY17, we expect to spend nearly $1M more than GA Emergency Housing was budgeted. Additionally, the legislature cut the GA Emergency Housing budget by $150K in SFY18. The legislature provided $600K in one-time funding to site warming shelters in the Bane and Rutland AHS districts and these will be challenging to implement. Excluding the one-time funding to site new seasonal shelters in the Barre. and Rutland districts, the legislature budgeted approximately $3. l 5M for GA Emergency Housing in SFY18. Of that amount, it is our hope that we can continue to invest $1.5M in community-based projects.

With your help, we have made a few tough decisions and are faced with more on how to best help vulnerable Vermonters within the funds available. We are committed to investing GA funds in community investments that have demonstrated significant savings to the GA budget, specifically warming shelters. In some instances, GA investments have not yielded significant savings and we have chosen to end those projects. In addition, we have notified a number of community partners operating projects with GA funding that DCF is only able to commit three-months of funding at this time. While these projects include worthwhile approaches – such as specific supports for victims of domestic violence, master lease emergency apartments for families, and expanded shelter capacity – these investments did not yield the level of GA savings anticipated in the past year. These projects have shown strong outcomes for those served by intentionally having more flexibility to meet the needs of homeless Vermonters. We very much want to continue funding these programs as we appreciate their contribution to addressing homelessness.

With this memo, we would like to enlist your input on ways that we might proceed. Specifically, we are considering the options below to address the anticipated FYI 8 budget shortfall. It is our hope that we can extend our three-month commitment to a full year of funding for the programs referenced earlier in this memo:

  • modifying the length and scope of GA benefits;
  • calibrating the ‘adverse weather events’ to be a narrow exception to the eligibility rules (the . legislature eliminated the ‘Cold Weather Exception’ replacing it with ‘Adverse Weather Events’); and
  • seeking assistance in creating cost effective warming shelters in Barre and Rutland this winter.

Data overview:

Attached, you will find unduplicated GA emergency housing utilization year-to-date data for FYI 7 and the GA expenditure data for FY16 and FY17. The expenditure data is broken out by ESD district and includes spending on motels as well as on GA Community Investments. Overall the spending on GA emergency housing has increased from $4,011,326 to $4,371,650. It is worth remembering that this past winter was colder than the previous, resulting in more cold weather exception (CWE) nights during FY17.

In addition to the GA usage data described above, please also find last year’s list of GA investment projects. As local Continua of Care discuss the challenges presented, providers are encouraged to share demographic and utilization data to help inform local discussions.

Opportunities for input this summer and beyond:

We welcome your input and ideas for how we might proceed. If the decision is to modify the GA rules (applies to changes to eligibility or benefit scope for the vulnerable or catastrophic categories), this will happen through its own process of public comment and legislative approval. Partners will be able to participate in these processes. In the meantime, we would like to hear from you at this early stage in the process. Here are some meeting opportunities and an option to provide input in writing:

  1. Survey Monkey – we will put out a link you can forward to your staff and partners for their input.
  2. Members of the DCF Housing team will be attending the following regularly occurring meetings:
    1. VT Coalition to End Homelessness (attended June 20, 2017)
    2. Vermont Council on Homelessness (attended June 20, 2017)
    3. Chittenden Homeless Alliance (July 6, 2017)
    4. Affordable Housing Coalition (July 12, 2017)

We are happy to attend these meetings more than once and/or arrange for an additional opportunity for input. Also, please free to connect any members of the DCF Housing Team with questions or to discuss your thoughts and suggestions. Thank you.

DCF Housing Team
Commissioner’s Office:
Ken Schatz, Commissioner
Karen Vastine, Senior Advisor to the Commissioner
Economic Services Division:
Sean Brown, Deputy Commissioner
Richard Donahey, Operations Director
Geoffrey Pippenger, GA Program Chief
Office of Economic Opportunity:
Sarah Phillips, Director
Emily Higgins, Community Services Program Administrator

 



Job Posting – Chief Operating Officer, Vermont Housing Finance Agency

Posted June 23, 2017

VHFA has an immediate opening for a Chief Operating Officer who will be responsible for the direction, management, and oversight of VHFA’s production departments: Homeownership, Multifamily Asset Management and Development. The COO reports to the Executive Director and will work with Senior Management in developing and implementing successful business plans for each program area. Key activities include maximizing capital resources for VHFA programs and developing new business opportunities.

Candidates should have a bachelor’s degree in business/public administration, finance, economics, or equivalent experience (Masters Level preferred) and ten years’ experience in senior level management, finance, commercial banking, residential real estate investing and/or real estate development. The ideal candidate would have experience with public finance, Government Sponsored Enterprises, affordable housing programs, and/or mortgage lending.

Learn more about this position including the full position description and summary of benefits.

 



Sanders Announces $3 Million in National Housing Trust Funds for Vermont

Posted June 21, 2017

Last week, Senator Bernie Sanders announced $3 million in new funds awarded to Vermont through the National Housing Trust Fund to be used for the creation, preservation, and rehabilitation of affordable housing. These funds provided a much needed. The National Housing Trust Fund was created in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis in order to support the creation of affordable housing nationwide, specifically targeting low income households with incomes below the national poverty line.

“Increasing the availability of affordable housing in Vermont has consistently been one of my top priorities,” Sanders said in a statement. “After more than 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.”

According to Gus Seelig, Executive Director of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the funds will support 22 Vermont families thorugh the construction of more that 140 unites in Burlington, Brattleboro, Randolph, Rutland, Poultney, and Marshfield.

Read more here from VTDigger.com.

 

 



Job Posting – Membership Specialist, Champlain Housing Trust

Posted

MEMBERSHIP SPECIALIST

Do you have a desire to step into fund raising and a passion for social justice? Champlain Housing Trust has an exciting new opportunity available that will allow you to put your excellent communication, organization, and people skills to work supporting our membership and fundraising team. Fundraising experience helpful, but not necessary. Must be committed to a membership-based model of community controlled and permanently affordable housing.

CHT is a socially responsible employer offering a competitive salary commensurate with experience and a comprehensive benefit package. Submit a cover letter and resume by June 30th to Human Resources, Champlain Housing Trust, 88 King Street, Burlington, VT 05401 or email hr@champlainhousingtrust.orgNo phone calls, please.

 



Housing Revenue Bond Initiative

Posted

Colleagues,

We anticipate a significant achievement from this legislative session: approval of a $35 million revenue bond to invest in affordable and workforce housing. The bond was proposed by Gov. Scott in January and was enthusiastically received by both the House and the Senate. (A summary of the proposed uses of the bond can be found here.) While there remains uncertainty about the state’s budget, we have been assured by the Governor’s office and legislative leadership that the bond remains a high priority for both and it would be appropriate to begin planned outreach.

The revenue bond will be issued by VHFA and administered by VHCB. As we outline the investment of bond proceeds in housing development projects, we want to begin by reaching out to communities around the state for help in identifying highest priority needs and projects. I would like to invite you to a meeting to learn more about the revenue bond and to hear your ideas:

June 23, 1:30 – 3:00 pm
Hartford Municipal Building
Room 12, First Floor

In the interim, feel free to contact Martin Hahn, our Housing Director (mhahn@vhcb.org, 828-3259), if you have questions or feedback and feel share this event within your network.

 



Job Posting – VHCB Housing Analyst

Posted June 16, 2017

The Vermont Housing & Conservation Board seeks a highly capable, self-motivated individual to join our housing staff. Responsibilities include financial underwriting and analysis of applications for affordable housing development funds, organizational grant underwriting, and project and organizational monitoring.

We seek a person with attention to detail, the ability to work as part of a team, strong communication skills and an interest in the non-profit housing delivery system.

Prior experience preferred in housing development, finance or underwriting and working with non-profit organizations, municipalities, and state agencies. Background in any or all of the following is desirable: architecture, construction, service supported housing, technical assistance, working with federal funds. The position requires some in-state travel.

This is a full-time position with comprehensive benefits. Position remains open until filled. EOE. To apply, email a letter of interest, résumé and references to Laurie Graves, laurie@vhcb.org. Read the job description.

 



Vermont’s Annual Count of Homelessness Shows Mixed Results

Posted June 13, 2017

For Immediate ReleaseJune 13, 2017

Contact: MaryEllen Mendl, 802.861.0146 ext. 205 maryellen@unitedwaysvt.org

Erin Ahern, 802.860.4310 ext. 8481, eahearn@chcb.org

Margaret Bozik, 802. 861.7370,  Margaret.Bozik@champlainhousingtrust.org

MONTPELIER, VT – 1,225 Vermonters were found to be literally homeless on a single night in January. The 2017 Point-in-Time Count Report, released today by the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness and the Chittenden County Homeless Alliance, showed an overall increase in homelessness by 11% compared to the 2016 Point-in-Time Count. While there was an overall statewide increase, there were striking regional differences, including decreases in Chittenden (-12%) and Franklin (-17%) counties. Included in the total were 306 children, representing 25% of the entire homeless population counted.

“The work of local communities, with the help of local, state and federal investments, is needed now more than ever,” said MaryEllen Mendl, Co-Chair of the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness. “The Trump budget would cut off affordable housing assistance to an estimated 750 Vermont families, putting them at risk of eviction and homelessness.  It also eliminates numerous key programs that fund the creation of new affordable homes, like Community Development Block Grants, HOME and the National Housing Trust Fund.”

The report comes from data collected for the Annual Point-in-Time Count, an unduplicated count of persons experiencing literal homelessness on the night of January 24, 2017.  The Count was organized by Vermont’s two federally-recognized Continua of Care (CoC), the Chittenden County CoC and the 11 local coalitions that make up the Balance of State CoC. These networks are comprised of homeless and human service organizations, housing agencies, government agencies, health care providers, private funders, and other partners that strive to eliminate homelessness in Vermont.

Margaret Bozik, Co-Chair of the Chittenden County Homeless Alliance, stated, “We are pleased to see a continuing decrease in homelessness in Chittenden County. We are now seeing family homelessness decline as well as reductions in the number of people who have experienced homelessness for long periods of time in Chittenden County.  It’s very encouraging to see the state looking to make new investments in affordable housing, though the proposed federal cuts are troubling.”

Additional Point-in-Time Count Findings:

  • 134 people were unsheltered, a 14% decrease from last year.
  • Just under half of the people (47%) were homeless for the first time.
  • 267 persons (22%) reported as survivors of domestic violence, a 40-person increase from 2016.
  • Due to coordinated statewide efforts, the population of homeless veterans has steadily declined since the 2013 Count. 2017 saw a continuation of this downward trend with 94 veterans counted, a 15% decrease compared to last year.
  • 340 people (28%) reported having a severe mental illness. 228 people (19%) reported having a substance abuse disorder.

The Point-In-Time Count findings come on the heels of the release of the Out of Reach Report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition. Vermont’s average Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,139. In order to afford this — without paying more than 30% on rent and utilities — a household must earn $45,545 annually, translating to a $21.90 hourly wage. This is unaffordable for a large percentage of Vermonters. The report found that Vermont has the 5th largest affordability gap for renters of any state in the nation. High rents, coupled with vacancy rates as low as 1%, continue to be barriers to finding and retaining housing.

People who experience homelessness in Vermont face complex challenges, which include and go beyond the unaffordability of housing. The Point-in-Time Count allows local communities and state policy makers to understand the current problems of homelessness, target limited funding to appropriate housing and services, and track progress towards ending and preventing homelessness.

For more information and for the full report, visit: http://helpingtohousevt.org/.

 



North Avenue Co-op Gets 1st Modular Home

Posted June 12, 2017

Last week, the North Avenue Co-op, a resident owned and operated mobile home park, received a delivery of the first VERMOD to enter the park. VERMODs are energy efficient modular homes that produce as much energy as they use. They are targeted towards replacing mobile homes, which generally are energy inefficient and tend to cost their primarily low-income residents a disproportionate amount of their income to heat.

The homes are equipped with solar panels on the roofs and are made with high-quality materials that decrease heating and electricity costs. The homes are eligible for up to $50,000 in incentives from the Burlington Electric Department, Champlain Housing Trust, and others, though for many residents living in mobile homes, the price tag may still be too steep. The modular home will serve as a show room for residents to tour and is currently for sale.

Read more from Vermontbiz.com.

 



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