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Congressman Welch Pushes for Additional Homelessness Funds

Posted May 9, 2017

Congressman Peter Welch visited the Good Samaritan Haven in Barre on Monday to promote a new bill called the PATH Fairness Act, which focuses on providing more funding to combat homelessness in rural areas.

The bill proposes an increase from $300,000 annually to $750,00 per year to fund five homeless shelters across the state. Congressman Welch has bipartisan support for the bill with a Republican co-sponsor.

Read the full story from MyChamplainValley.com.

 



Brattleboro’s Bradley House Celebrates Expansion and Renovation

Posted May 8, 2017

On May 1, Cathedral Square celebrated a ribbon-cutting to mark the renovation and expansion of Brattelboro’s Bradley House, a residential care facility. VHFA supported this renovation and expansion with a $3.1 million construction loan. With this construction, the house will serve 35 people, up from the 28 it could previously serve by adding new wing to create space for additional beds.

Cathedral Square provided development services and traditional funding was contributed by USDA Rural Development, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, Vermont Community Development Program, Commons Energy, Efficiency Vermont, 3E Thermal, The Town of Brattleboro, and private fundraising. Brattleboro Savings and Loan has provided longstanding banking and financial services to Holton Home Inc. and were also key to helping achieve this objective. Find the full article here.

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A Letter to the Editor: Respect Our Home

Posted

On December 21, 2016, Seven Days published an article in regards to the leadership shakeup at Burlington Housing Authority which used demeaning language to refer to Decker Towers, home to more than 160 low-income Burlingtonians. Specifically, the article recalled the homes as “looming, drab Decker Towers on St. Paul Street.” Residents on the Decker Towers Tenants Organization Steering Committee felt a need to respond to this characterization of their imperfect yet thriving home and community, and organized a letter writing effort to reshape the narrative surrounding Vermont’s largest building.

 

With an effort aided by VAHC Resident Organizer Corrine Yonce, residents composed a letter to the editor at Seven Days. In it, residents said it was comments like these that perpetuate a stigma regarding the issues of illness, disabilities and low incomes. The residents reply that, in fact, many of them did have careers, and many are still employed and working.

 

The residents added that the Towers is a place where people can truly come together and build each other up. At Decker Towers, residents state that their “lives are evolving as we work to overcome substantial adversities and try to avoid further social divide.” This is a place for healing, for coming together, and for growing together.

 

Residents are upset that their home was portrayed in a negative, gloomy light. In reality, many residents feel their home in the Towers is just the opposite- it is a place for support and safety.

 

This letter shows the Burlington community that residents, as a matter of fact, have a say too. Residents have an important voice, something which should always be remembered.

Read the residents’ letter here.

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Rutland’s Proposal for Shelter Moves Forward

Posted

In Rutland, the Homeless Prevention Center’s proposal seeking out state funds for a local family homeless shelter was signed by Mayor David Allaire at a recent meeting. Final approval is scheduled to take place on the night of Monday May 8, as the full Board of Aldermen’s Community and Economic Development Committee meet to consider final approval. This shelter would be located in the former Red Cross building, off Strongs Avenue and near the entrance to Howe Center, and could serve up to 10 families at one time.

The shelter would provide individuals with their own sleeping spaces, with shared kitchen, living spaces, and bathrooms. Currently, homeless families receive state vouchers and are put up in hotels.Deborah Hall, executive director of the Homeless Prevention Center, stated that at least part of the shelter should be up and operating by September. Read more here.

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Chittenden County Sees Drop in Homelessness

Posted May 2, 2017

The Point in Time Count is an annual census of the homeless population conducted on a single night in January. It aims to measure the number of folks who are literally homeless on that night – in emergency shelters, camping, in transitional housing, or on motel vouchers – in order to measure progress made from year to year towards eradicating homelessness. Over the past three years, Chittenden County has now seen a 45 percent reduction in the number of folks who are literally homeless, and a 56 percent reduction in the number of chronically homeless Burlingtonians. Despite this year’s 12 percent decline, there were still more than 300 people in Chittenden County alone who were without a home on the night of January 24th.

“Whether they have an address or not, these are our neighbors,” said Chittenden County Homeless Alliance Co-Chair Erin Ahearn of the Community Health Center of Burlington. The Chittenden County Homeless Alliance is comprised of a wide coalition of organizations, from the Chamber of Commerce to UVM Medical Center to shelter providers and mental health agencies, who have each made a commitment to eradicating homelessness in Chittenden County.

When asked if it is realistic to expect that we should be able to completely eradicate homelessness, Champlain Housing Trust’s Margaret Bozik, the CCHA’s other Co-Chair, stated, “The goal is to get as close to zero as possible, and then make any incidence of homelessness as brief as possible by getting those people the services that they need.”

Mayor Miro Weinberger hailed the numbers as a testament to the commitment of the broad spectrum of organizations working in collaboration towards this common goal. He cited the recent change to a “Housing First” approach where people are first and foremost found a home to be in, and then matched with wrap-around services to meet their other needs subsequently. Mayor Weinberger specifically cited the Winter Warming Shelter as an important step towards serving those who fall into homelessness, and stated that the City is looking for funds to make the shelter available year-round. He concluded his remarks by underscoring the importance of additional funds to support low-income housing construction, pointing to the $35 million bond currently under consideration by legislators in Montpelier.

Read the CCHA’s press release here.

Read VTDigger’s coverage of the press conference here. 

 



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

Posted

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

Posted

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

Posted

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.

 



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