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Brattleboro Replaces Public Housing Damaged By Tropical Storm Irene

Posted October 1, 2013

Yesterday Vermont Public Radio had a story on the public housing being replaced in Brattleboro:

The Brattleboro Housing Authority has announced plans for fifty-five new apartments to replace public housing damaged in tropical storm Irene.

But the project faces challenges because of changes in the federal government’s approach to public housing.

The new development, called Red Clover Commons, will only partially replace the eighty units at Melrose Terrace. The complex, whose residents are elderly or disabled, had to be evacuated during the 2011 storm.

Tenants were allowed back after the damaged buildings were repaired — but only temporarily because the complex is in a flood hazard area.

Melrose Terrace was built in 1965. It’s one of five developments in Brattleboro that were built and subsidized by HUD, the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Affairs.

But Brattleboro Housing Authority  Director  Christine Hart says those days are gone.

“And now,” says Hart, “HUD really is looking to housing authorities to use other sources of funds — the low income housing tax credits, different programs that can be used with section 8.”

The Brattleboro Housing Authority is working with Housing Vermont to access those funding programs and move the project forward.

The agencies have an option on a 2.8-acre site, convenient to stores and Brattleboro Memorial Hospital.

Hart says Melrose residents are very much involved in the relocation process. They considered several locations.

“And they loved this site,” Hart says. “I can’t tell you how many people said to me, ‘This is where we need to be.’”

But Hart says the very low rents that have benefited Melrose tenants will be a challenge to sustain.

“The dilemma is that we’re taking people that have a public housing subsidy, we’re moving them to a brand new building,” says Hart. “And we need to make sure that we find a way to keep their rent the same as it has been under the public housing, because HUD is not building public housing anymore.”

The project got some good news recently. The Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development has earmarked five million dollars in expected flood disaster relief funds for the Brattleboro project.

But Red Clover Commons is expected to cost  thirteen million. And the fifty-five-unit project leaves twenty-five more Melrose residents still in need of replacement housing.

The Brattleboro Housing Authority also needs to find a new location for its own offices, which are also at Melrose Terrace.

Read the full article and listen to the original report online.  For a PDF of the article click here.


Federal public housing program tightens competition for financing

Posted June 21, 2013

“The Melrose Terrace public housing development was full long before FEMA maps placed it squarely in a special flood hazard area. Its 80 or more elderly and disabled residents were accustomed to evacuations long before and long after President Bill Clinton issued a presidential order that no critical population shall be housed in a flood zone using federal money…

Since 1937, housing agencies…traditionally have relied on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the vast majority of their public housing funding. But a new test program would lead them to the world of private equity…”

Link to Full Article 

View PDF of Full VTDigger Article




NPR – Sequester Uncertainty Surrounds Section 8 Housing Program

Posted April 10, 2013

Housing authorities nationwide are feeling the effects of sequestration and face serious cuts to the housing programs they administer.

By Kara Bradeisky. Reposted from NPR, April 8, 2013.

“‘The severity of the shortfall in voucher renewal funding caused by sequestration is unprecedented in the history of the program,’ Rice wrote in the report. ‘Facing such large shortfalls, agencies will be forced to take steps to reduce program costs quickly, even as they spend down reserves’…

Link to Full NPR Article 

View PDF of Full NPR Article


Sequester hits home with cuts to BHA

Posted April 9, 2013

“BRATTLEBORO — The Brattleboro Housing Authority is letting its Section 8 tenants know that recent federal budget cuts will likely force a decrease in the monthly housing aid they receive.

BHA sent out a letter to its tenants last week explaining that cuts to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development caused by the sequester will reduce the payment standard for all tenants to 90 percent of the fair market rent.

The amount of money each Section 8 tenant receives to help pay for rent varies depending on income, the rent payment, and other factors, and BHA Executive Director Chris Hart said the impact will vary from tenant to tenant…”

Link to Full Brattleboro Reformer 

View PDF of Full Brattleboro Reformer Article