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Former Hotel Becomes Permanent Housing for Homeless

Posted January 26, 2016

VT Digger reports on the opening of the Beacon Apartments, which consists of 19 studio and one-bedroom apartments in the now renovated former Ho Hum Motel in South Burlington, will provide permanent housing and supportive services to chronically homeless individuals. The project is made possible through the work of the Champlain Housing Trust, the Burlington Housing Authority and the Community Health Centers of Burlington. Below is an excerpt from the article:

Many of the people who began moving into modest but newly renovated apartments this month at the former Ho Hum Motel haven’t had a place of their own in years.

One man said he hadn’t showered in 2½ months, recalled Ben Daniels, construction manager for the Beacon Apartments, as the single-story brick complex is known. Now he has his own bathroom with a shower.

The Beacon Apartments are a project of the Champlain Housing Trust, the Burlington Housing Authority and Safe Harbor, which is the Community Health Centers of Burlington’s health care program for homeless people.

The 19 studio and one-bedroom apartments on Route 7 between Burlington and Shelburne are not transitional housing, said Chris Donnelly, director of community relations for the housing trust. Tenants can stay forever if they choose, he said.

Working with United Way, the groups conducted a survey to identify the homeless people in the region most likely to die on the streets or in the woods. They’re also the people “most likely to cycle through emergency rooms,” Donnelly said — visits that ultimately drive up health care costs borne by the public at large.

The idea is to give the long-term homeless, many of whom struggle with substance abuse and mental illness, stable housing and support services that will allow them to live more normal lives.

“These are folks who have trouble navigating the system on a good day. They’ve really just been focused on survival,” said Erin Ahearn, Safe Harbor’s homeless health care program manager.

Many are the product of generational poverty and “never had the opportunity to be independent and successful on their own,” Ahearn said. They often grew up without a family home, frequently staying with friends or relatives, and in some cases on the streets, she said.

To read the full article, click here.


Job Opportunity: Burlington Housing Authority Seeks New Executive Director

Posted June 8, 2015

The Burlington Housing Authority (BHA) in Vermont is seeking candidates for the position of Executive Director upon the retirement in March 2016 of the current Executive Director of the past 20 years. BHA assists over 2,500 low-income households with rental assistance and federally assisted housing which it owns or manages. We have a 50-person staff and annual operations of $26 million. Our portfolio includes public housing converted to RAD, Section 8 vouchers, project-based rental assistance, shelter-plus-care, and supportive housing. BHA is recognized by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development as a “High Performer” agency in both its public housing and Section 8 program administration.

The Board of Commissioners seeks an accomplished leader dedicated to efficiently managing federal and local resources and providing affordable and attractive living environments for those of modest means. Candidates must possess a Bachelor’s degree in public administration or a related field; a Master’s degree is desirable. Candidates should also possess at least seven years of experience in affordable housing or a related field, with five years at an executive level. The salary for the Executive Director is competitive and open, dependent on qualifications and extent of experience.

If you are interested in this opportunity, please visit our website at for more information on BHA. Applicants must send a cover letter, maximum two-page resume, expectation for compensation package, and a list of three to six professional references from sources such as board members, peers, or stakeholders to:

Executive Director Search
Burlington Housing Authority
65 Main Street
Burlington, VT 05401

Filing deadline: August 1, 2015.


100,000 Homes Update & Seven Days Article

Posted March 5, 2015

The organizers of the 100,000 Homes Campaign recently updated the community on some of the progress they have made since the registry event, which took place in October. Below are some of the current statistics as of February 2015. To read the entire progress report, click here.


Seven Days has also published an article on the campaign that highlights some of the recent progress being made in this week’s issue, titled “Turning the Longtime Homeless Population Into Tenants.” Below is an excerpt:

Last October, dozens of volunteers wearing bright green shirts surveyed homeless people in Burlington. They were participating in the 100,000 Homes Campaign — a national effort to identify and house the most vulnerable members of the homeless population. Despite the lofty name, organizers made a point to temper expectations: Volunteers were instructed to make it clear that participation in the survey did not guarantee housing.

That left an important question unanswered: Would anything come of it?

Richard North was sleeping near Cherry Street around dawn during one October morning when a volunteer showed up with a clipboard. The 55-year-old man has lived in Burlington his whole life — the last two decades of it on the streets, panhandling outside Rite Aid and camping in out-of-the-way corners of the city.

North answered 50 questions about his mental health, medical conditions, substance abuse and relationships. Known as the Vulnerability Index & Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool, the survey assesses how likely it is that people will die on the streets. Of the 205 survey participants, North rated among the top 10.

On February 1, for the first time in his life, North moved into an apartment of his own.

It’s easy to see why he scored high. Some time ago, he lost a toe to frostbite. While living in an encampment off an Interstate 89 exit, he was hit by a motorcycle. He has struggled with alcoholism for years, and he also has a heart condition. “It wasn’t easy at times,” is how North summed up 20 years on the streets. A pair of massive boots and a Carhartt jumpsuit — which helped him survive the cold — lay in a pile on his living room floor. Now, instead of worrying about how to stay warm, North has another concern: when he’ll get cable TV.

The nonprofit Community Solutions started the 100,000 Homes Campaign four and a half years ago, and it has spread to approximately 200 communities across the U.S. It embraces the Housing First approach, which promotes housing people without prerequisites such as completing substance-abuse treatment programs. It also operates on the premise that it’s ultimately cheaper to give people housing than to leave them on the streets. The logic: Doing so cuts down on trips to emergency rooms, incarceration and other costs.

The campaign provides the blueprint, but local organizations do all the work — training volunteers, administering the survey, and then figuring out how to cut through red tape and find the money to line up housing for people. A big part of the 100,000 Homes Campaign credo is encouraging local groups to improve their coordination with one another.

It also gives communities a goal: house 2.5 percent of their most vulnerable homeless residents each month. So far, organizers in Burlington are meeting that target. In all, they’ve found apartments for 23 people. According to Chris Brzovic, the local coordinator for the campaign, the person in greatest need of housing moved into an apartment on March 1.

To read the article in full, click here.


Vermont’s housing authorities feel the impacts of sequestration

Posted June 17, 2013

Public housing authorities in Vermont are feeling the effects of sequestration on already stressed budgets. This results in fewer issued vouchers, reducing access to housing for low-income Vermonters. Representatives from several housing authorities across the state comment on limited funding and losing vouchers in articles from VTDigger and The Commons Online.

Link to VTDigger article 

Link to PDF of Full article

Link to Full Commons Online Article

Update, 6/26/2013: VPR transcript and audio recording of “Housing Assistance Cuts Affect Low-Income Vermonters”, June 25, 2013

Update, 7/12/2013: St. Albans Messenger, June 20, 2013


Smokefree Housing: Let’s Clear the Air

Posted April 22, 2013

This free summit will focus on the benefits, implementation, and enforcement of smokefree multi-unit housing policies. This event is ideal for landlords and housing providers, property managers, and housing support staff. Community coalition staff and volunteers and tobacco treatment specialists are encouraged to attend.

Morning coffee & lunch will be served. Each participant will receive a toolkit of resources.

When: Wednesday, May 22, 2013/9:00am – 1:30pm
Where: Franklin Conference Center, Rutland, Vermont

Registration is required and only a few seats are left. Register here

For more information, contact the Rutland Area Prevention Coalition 802-775-4199 or

Hosted in partnership by:
Rutland Area Prevention Coalition, Burlington Housing Authority, Rutland Housing Authority, Housing Trust of Rutland County, Support and Services at Home (SASH), & the American Lung Association

View Smokefree Housing Flyer


Housing benefits slashed for hundreds of Vermonters

Posted March 15, 2013

By Jennifer Reading. Reposted from, March 14, 2013. 

Link to WCAX broadcast

“‘I checked a few places out there, but it’s the same old story,’ he said. ‘It all amounts to money.’

Something Killary doesn’t have much of. He lives paycheck to paycheck. And with no money in the bank, finding a decent apartment in Chittenden County was tough. And the Burlington Housing Authority says it’s about to get worse for Killary and other low-income Vermonters.

‘The fair market rents for 2013, they dropped drastically,’ said Claudia Donovan, the director of rental assistance at the Burlington Housing Authority.

Donovan says fair market rent is the amount the federal government says housing costs in the area.

In 2012, the feds said $896 would cover rent and utilities for a one-bedroom apartment in the greater Burlington area. This year that number dropped to $788. For families needing a three-bedroom, in 2012 the feds put the cost of rent and utilities at $1,439, but lowered that to $1,289 for 2013.

Donovan says these cuts impact how much the housing authority can offer Section 8 recipients. Typically rental assistance requires a client to contribute 30 percent of their income and the housing authority pays the rest. But the lower federal share is leaving a bigger bill for renters in the program.

‘If they can’t afford it they can be evicted,’ Donovan said. ‘They could become homeless. They may have to move in with relatives. So, it is a serious concern.’

The changes won’t go into effect for current Section 8 renters until Oct. 1. New participants and people moving will be affected immediately. Housing officials say negotiate with landlords, don’t move if you don’t have to and be willing to compromise.

‘I would have been in a tent, literally in a tent,’ Killary said.

Killary found an efficiency. It’s small and expensive, but it’s a roof overhead. Others who need help will not be as lucky. Sequestration is expected to take an additional toll on Section 8. The housing authority is preparing for a 6 percent funding cut, which means 100-150 people will lose their benefits.

‘It’s a heck of a way to run a business,’ Donovan said. ‘You don’t know how many people you can keep on the program, you don’t know where your funding is coming from, when it’s coming, if it’s coming and how much you’re going to receive. It’s a pretty dire thing.’

Housing authority officials say people caught abusing their benefits will be dropped first. In the past they’ve been able to give people second chances. There is currently a 5-7 year waiting list for Section 8 housing assistance, and until the sequester situation is resolved, the housing authority will not be giving out any new rental vouchers.”


Burlington’s Bobbin Mill Apartments preserved for residents

Posted December 21, 2012

By: Valerie Woodhouse, Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition. Photo by Matthew Ham-Ellis.

On Monday, Burlington Housing Authority (BHA) closed their acquisition of the Bobbin Mill Apartments, 51 Section 8 assisted apartments in Burlington. These apartments have provided safe and affordable housing since 1981, and together with Housing Vermont, BHA will undertake comprehensive rehabilitation of the units and community space.

For the past year, VAHC has been working alongside residents interested in organizing an association. We’re excited for this victory and hope to support residents’ communication with BHA and property managers during this time of transition.

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Wharf Lane Open House & celebration brings affordable housing community together

Posted December 4, 2012

“‘Burlington remains a very expensive community if you compare the incomes in the community to what we pay for housing. I see this as one of the largest problems going forward that we have much more to do on.'” – Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, WPTZ, Channel 5 News

Link to full story


Wharf Lane Apartments Open House

Posted November 20, 2012

Come and celebrate the renewal of Wharf Lane Apartments!

The Burl ington Housing Authority and Housing Vermont have preserved and improved Wharf Lane Apartments by renewing the Section 8 Housing Assistance Payment contract with HUD for 20 years and completing extensive renovations to increase energy efficiency and make other upgrades and enhancements.

When: Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 11:00 AM

Where: Wharf Lane Apartments, 57 Maple Street, Burlington, VT





Hurricane Sandy: Vermont gears up for late-season monster storm

Posted October 29, 2012

By HOWARD WEISS-TISMAN / Reformer Staff, Reposted from the Brattleboro Reformer, October 27, 2012.

“Brattleboro Housing Authority Executive Director Chris Hart said the organization is still cleaning up from Tropical Storm Irene.

BHA’s Melrose Terrace suffered extensive damage during last year’s historic storm and the housing authority is waiting on the grants to install storm gates and elevate the water heaters off the floors of the most vulnerable apartments.

But instead of continuing the work at Melrose, Hart spent Friday securing loose items, removing picnic tables and toys from the yards and comforting weary tenants who could be facing another evacuation as Hurricane Sandy barrels its way toward New England…”

Link to Full Brattleboro Reformer Article 

Full PDF of article


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