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Housing and Health: The Importance of Place

Posted September 17, 2014

A new paper was released this week highlighting the link between affordable housing and good health. Housing and Health: The Importance of Place, is the second in a series of papers that is designed to demonstrate the value of affordable housing for people and communities across the State of Vermont. At every age, a safe and secure home is crucial to staying healthy.

From the paper:

“We know that a well-housed person is healthier than a person who’s in bad housing with mold or is homeless,” says Community Health Improvement Director Penrose Jackson. Children, in particular, suffer cognitive impairments, asthma, mental health disorders, and diabetes and other chronic diseases as a result of living in sub-standard housing that might be riddled with mice, lead paint, mold, or chronic dampness issues. In a paper for the series “How Housing Matters to Families and Communities” from the Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, Megan Sandel, M.D., M.P.H., and Deborah Frank, M.D., observe just how intertwined health and housing are, especially for developing children.

“For many of our patients, a safe, decent, affordable home is like a vaccine—it literally keeps children healthy,” they say, noting their own findings proving the issues start even before birth: women who are homeless while pregnant are 50 percent more likely to have a low–birthweight baby and more than 30 percent more likely to have a preterm delivery than women who were not homeless while pregnant.

And for those who do have housing, if paying for rent or a mortgage demands a disproportionate percentage of their income, they will subsequently have less money to spend on other essentials, such as food and medicine.

To read the full paper click here (PDF file).

For more information, contact Chris Donnelly at the Champlain Housing Trust by calling (802) 861-7305 or Kenn Sassorossi at Housing Vermont at (802) 863-8284.

 



Harrington Village and Wright House Grand Opening Celebration

Posted September 11, 2014

On Wednesday a large crowd gathered to celebrate the opening of Harrington Village and the Wright House in Shelburne, Vermont. Three local nonprofit housing development groups – Champlain Housing Trust, Housing Vermont, and Cathedral Square, came together to build this mixed-income, mixed-generation neighborhood consisting of 78 new homes. In addition, Champlain Housing Trust and Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity are working together to build four affordable homes on the property. As of now there are 42 family apartments in Harrington Village and 36 senior apartments in Wright House. The Wright House also offers SASH (Supportive Services at Home) at no additional cost to residents.

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Photo credit: Jon Shenton/Champlain Housing Trust

Governor Peter Shumlin, who was present to speak to the crowd and celebrate the efforts of everyone involved, made this statement in yesterday’s press release:

“After many years of planning and persistence, this new neighborhood in the heart of Shelburne is now a reality. Harrington Village, including Wright House, brings together homes for all ages and a variety of income levels. Surrounded by open land but in the center of the village, it is providing both affordable housing and a good quality of life for residents.”

While there is great need for more safe and affordable housing across the state of Vermont, it is in particularly high demand for Chittenden County where vacancy rates are currently less than one percent. In their coverage of the event, this New England Cable News article mentions some of these issues facing Chittenden County and the fact that while many are already benefiting from this new housing, there is also a long waiting list of people looking to live in both Harrington Village and Wright House.

For further coverage of the event, click here and here. You can also view the video coverage from WCAX in the embedded video below:

 



Housing and Education: Putting the Pieces Together

Posted September 3, 2014

A new paper was released today highlighting the impact that affordable housing can have on a child’s education. Housing and Education: Putting the Pieces Together, is the first in a series of papers that is designed to demonstrate the value of affordable housing for people and communities across the State of Vermont. One key to a child’s success and ability to learn in the classroom is having an affordable home.

From the paper:

The effects on children’s learning can be both short- and long-term. There are the daily struggles with feeling tired, hungry, distracted, and resentful. And over the course of a student’s time in elementary and secondary school—if he or she sticks around that long, since such students are 60%
more likely to drop out of high school—effects include weaker social networks, less involvement in extracurricular activities, and lower-than-average test scores.

Vermont’s NECAP results underscore the latter point: the state’s low-income students scored anywhere from 14% to 29% lower in their tests across age groups in the 2012–2013 school year.

Encouragingly, however, a Johns Hopkins University study released in June 2014 confirmed that when families spend 30% of their income on housing—the target for what is considered affordable—children’s cognitive abilities improve. When that percentage rises or drops, it suffers. That’s brought about in part by the kinds of environments they’re forced to live in, but also because those families don’t have the resources to provide the books, computers, and educational outings that can determine success in a child’s academic career. That lack often further alienates students who are struggling to fit in. An affordable home, for these kids and their future, could make all the difference.

“Sometimes those kids experiencing housing challenges feel disconnected from their communities,” says Champlain Elementary’s Haslam, “which is even more damaging to their ability to access the academics, because socially and emotionally they’re just not ready.”

To read the full paper click here (PDF file).

For more information, contact Chris Donnelly at the Champlain Housing Trust by calling (802) 861-7305 or Kenn Sassorossi at Housing Vermont at (802) 863-8284.

 



Champlain Housing Trust is Seeking Two Americorps Members for September

Posted August 25, 2014

VAHC member Champlain Housing Trust is seeking two AmeriCorps members to help provide affordable homeownership and financial education in Northwestern Vermont.  Don’t miss this opportunity to work with one of the state’s premier housing organizations and gain valuable, real-world experience.  Make a difference in your community as a vital part of CHT’s team.  This would be a perfect opportunity for a recent graduate to get a foot in the door or for a retiree to share their knowledge and give back.  Positions start in September and include a stipend, help paying off student debt, extensive training, health benefits, and more.  For more information and details on how to apply click here.  If you have an questions please call or email Barbara Geries at 802-861-7333 or bgeries@getahome.org.

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Grand Opening Celebration – Harrington Village and Wright House

Posted August 19, 2014

Join Cathedral Square, Champlain Housing Trust, Housing Vermont, and special guest Governor Peter Shumlin to celebrate the opening of new housing in Shelburne’s village.

When: Wednesday, Spetember 10th, 2014 at 10:00AM

Where: Harrington Avenue, Shelburne

Parking available at Trinity Episcopal Church, just off of Route 7 south of the development.

Please RSVP at: Square@cathedralsquare.org

Harrington Village Invite

 



Welch Highlights LIHTC Legislation at Bobbin Mill Apartments in Burlington

Posted June 22, 2014

In case you missed, last week CCTV aired a press conference with Congressman Peter Welch at the Bobbin Mill Apartments with Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, Ken Sassarossi of Housing Vermont, Sarah Carpenter of VHFA, and Brenda Torpy of CHT.

Welch was at Bobbin Mill to highlight his legislation (H.R. 4717) to improve the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and stimulate the development and rehabilitation of affordable rental housing in Vermont.  Watch the broadcast online here or below:

 



Sarah Carpenter Receives Champlain Housing Trust’s McKenzie Award

Posted February 7, 2014

Re-posted from Leslie Black-Plumeau of VHFA’s Housing Matters Blog:

VHFA’s Executive Director, Sarah Carpenter, received the Tim McKenzie Award at Champlain Housing Trust’s annual meeting and dinner…   The award recognized Carpenter’s outstanding contributions to permanently affordable housing during the past thirty years.  Carpenter is a long-time Burlington resident.

“I am honored to work with partner organizations like Champlain Housing Trust to extend affordable housing options to Vermonters not served by conventional markets,” said Carpenter, who has been VHFA’s executive director since 1998.

Champlain Housing Trust’s Chief Executive Officer, Brenda Torpy, presented the award.  Torpy explained that Sarah was one of the housing trust’s original Board members thirty years ago.  “Her driving vision about the role perpetually affordable housing plays in our economy has had wide reaching impacts,” Torpy commented.   Champlain Housing Trust is a community land trust that supports communities in northwest Vermont through the development and stewardship of permanently affordable homes and community assets.

According to Tom Pelletier, Chairperson of VHFA’s Board of Directors, “Sarah’s keen understanding of housing markets and devotion to making housing more affordable for low and moderate-income Vermonters has made her a highly effective leader.”

Before joining VHFA, Carpenter was the Executive Director of Burlington’s Cathedral Square Corporation—an organization nationally recognized for combining affordable housing and community services.   Born in Burlington, Carpenter is a graduate of the University of Vermont and Harvard University.

 



Seven Days Profiles Harbor Place, Recent Homeless Family

Posted December 18, 2013

Kathryn Flagg for Seven Days has written a new article on Harbor Place.  The report highlights the story of the Sweeney’s, a family who recently stayed at the new emergency housing facility purchased and opened by Champlain Housing Trust.  More from the article:

The practice of housing Vermonters in motels, when homeless shelters are full, is a controversial one: The emergency-assistance program has grown steadily more expensive in recent years; in the last fiscal year, it cost the state $4.2 million, prompting officials to tighten eligibility. Advocates for the homeless argue against drastic cuts to the program. Until the state has better safety nets in place, they say, the motels are an important last resort for people who have nowhere else to sleep.

No one is saying it’s an ideal solution. But that’s where Harbor Place — formerly the Econo Lodge in Shelburne — comes in.

“We thought, ‘There’s a better way,’” said Chris Donnelly, director of community relations at the Champlain Housing Trust. So in late October, the trust purchased the 59-room motel for $1.85 million, financing the majority of that purchase with a loan through the Vermont Community Loan Fund — the largest in VCLF’s history…

The change is more than cosmetic. Security cameras were installed earlier this month. New placards posted around the motel advertise the facility’s rules, including a ban on visitors after 8 p.m. It’s quiet, and the Sweeneys like the fact that a guard roams the property until midnight. Neighbors stop by with baked goods, and the former lobby is occasionally stocked with donated clothing and boots.

But arguably the most important change is that Harbor Place brings caseworkers directly to “guests” at the motel. The goal isn’t simply to give families and homeless individuals a warm and safe temporary room; it’s to connect them with other services and programs that can get them out of the motel and back on their feet…

In November, Harbor Place’s first month of operation, the shelter housed 128 people — including individuals and families. The State of Vermont guarantees to pay for at least 30 of the motel’s 59 rooms every night, but at an average rate of $38 a night, it’s a better deal than what the state pays at other motels around Chittenden County. The voucher limits a family’s stay to 28 days, but Harbor Place allows guests to extend that if they pay their own way and are actively working with a caseworker. Harbor Place also takes in families or individuals referred by Fletcher Allen Health Care or the HowardCenter.

Department of Children and Families Deputy Commissioner Richard Giddings called the Champlain Housing Trust a “solid partner,” with whom the state is making significant strides to address the costs of homelessness.

“They’re under a lot of pressure to do things differently,” said Donnelly of the state. “But you can’t just flip the switch overnight.”

Read the full article, and learn of the Sweeney family’s experience at Harbor Place, over at Seven Days, or here in PDF.

 



ICYMI: Program Helps Low-Income Buyers Afford Mobile Homes

Posted December 2, 2013

Demand is growing for a year-old program that helps Vermonters who lack resources buy mobile homes, reported VPR recently.  The program was developed through a partnership between Vermont Housing Finance Agency, Champlain Housing Trust, the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.

Maura Collins of VHFA and Emily Higgins of CHT were interviewed by VPR.

Read the VPR piece or learn more about the program on the Champlain Housing Trust web site.

See also: Vermont manufactured home loan program in the news

 



Champlain Housing Trust Receving $100,000 Housing for Everyone Grant from TD Charitable Foundation

Posted November 19, 2013

The folks over at Champlain Housing Trust announced some more exciting news last week.  CHT has been awarded a $100,00 grant from TD Charitable Foundation.  One of just 25 grants made from the Housing for Everyone competition, and the only one recognized in Vermont, CHT will be using the investment towards a housing and community development effort in Burlington’s Old North End.  CHT has additional details:

The grant is funding CHT’s work with Housing Vermont to redevelop an urban brownfield with four existing structures in Burlington’s Old North End into the Bright Street Housing Cooperative – 42 newly constructed homes in a resident-controlled housing development. Developing new, affordable housing in Chittenden County is critical with a 1% vacancy rate and rents that have increased by nearly 50% since 2007.

“We are excited to support the transformation of a full block which needs more affordable housing and is in one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Vermont,” said Phil Daniels, Vermont President of TD Bank. “The Champlain Housing Trust has a long and successful history contributing to the vibrancy of the Old North End, and we are happy to be able to support their next development there.”

…Four buildings will be constructed on the site; one large building with 35 apartments, and three other buildings with a total seven apartments scattered amongst them will form the streetscape. The larger building will be developed in the middle of the block. For a visual of the site plan, visit http://bit.ly/brightstreet. The plan envisions several eco-features, such as community garden space in raised beds, the possibility of solar panels on the roof stormwater collection for watering gardens and clotheslines.

“The redevelopment of this area of Bright Street is an ambitious project,” said Nancy Owens, President of Housing Vermont, a partner in the development. “The grant from the TD Charitable Foundation will enable us to create housing that will benefit the neighborhood for years to come.”

The development will be under construction in late summer of fall of 2014, beginning with the demolition of buildings along Bright Street. Occupancy in the new co-op is expected to be in late summer 2015.

Take a look at the proposed site plan of the Bright Street Redevelopment:

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