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Champlain Housing Trust’s Shared Equity Homeownership Program Featured in Burlington Free Press

Posted April 14, 2016

Champlain Housing Trust‘s shared equity homeownership program is featured in today’s issue of the Burlington Free Press. The program has helped over 1000 families achieve the dream of homeownership since its creation. To read the full article, click here. Below is an excerpt:

Lal Gurung, born in Bhutan, spent 18 years in a refugee camp in Nepal before emigrating to Vermont in January 2011. A little more than three years later, after spending a significant portion of his life living in a plastic tent, he became a homeowner in Burlington’s South End, thanks to an innovative shared equity program from Champlain Housing Trust.

The program, which provides a generous down payment that stays with the house if it is sold, has made homeowners out of more than 1,000 families since it was launched in 1984 by then-mayor of Burlington, Bernie Sanders.

“This was something the Sanders Administration came up with as a way to halt gentrification in the Old North End, and give people a stake in ownership,” said Chris Donnelly, director of community relations for the Champlain Housing Trust. “Burlington became the first city in the country to put public money into creating a community land trust.”

Today, the nonprofit Champlain Housing Trust has an annual operating budget of $10 million, with 80 percent of its income from fees and rents that people pay to live in its housing, or from developing new housing. The other 20 percent of the budget comes from grants and donations.

“Most of it is people paying rent,” Donnelly said. “In our portfolio we have about 2,200 rentals of all shapes and sizes.”

The Trust’s rental housing is kept affordable, with rent and utilities that add up to about 30 percent of the renters’ incomes.

“If you look at all the property we manage, we commit to keeping it affordable forever,” Donnelly said. “We have about $300 million worth of assets.”

Earlier this year, Champlain Housing Trust was one of six organizations honored by the Allstate/Atlantic Media Renewal Awards for “innovative local approaches to pressing issues affecting communities across the country.

To continue reading, click here.

 



Job Opportunity: Commercial Property Manager at Champlain Housing Trust

Posted February 11, 2016

Join Champlain Housing Trust’s Property Management team in Burlington, serve the affordable housing needs of a diverse group of people, and manage CHT’s Commercial Property Portfolio. You will be responsible for leasing, marketing, tenant relations, rent collections, rent increase implementation, lease enforcement and compliance with Federal, State and local programs. Qualified applicants must have excellent customer service skills, be organized with attention to detail, able to work independently while enjoying a team environment, communicate effectively, exercise sound judgment, and committed to a membership-based model of community controlled and permanently affordable housing. Experience in commercial/residential property management.

CHT is a socially responsible employer offering a competitive salary commensurate based on experience. Our benefit package includes training, health insurance, vacation, holiday, sick leave, 403(b), disability and life insurance. Submit a cover letter and resume by February 26th to Human Resources, Champlain Housing Trust, 88 King Street, Burlington, VT 05401 or email HR@champlainhousingtrust.org. No phone calls, please.

Equal Opportunity Employer – CHT is committed to a diverse workplace and highly encourages women, persons with disabilities, Section 3 residents, and people from diverse racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds to apply.

 



Champlain Housing Trust Receives National Award

Posted February 1, 2016

Congratulations to the Champlain Housing Trust for their win in the Allstate/Atlantic Media Renewal Awards! CHT’s affordable, shared equity homeownership program was selected as one of six awardees in the competition, which honors innovative approaches to issues that affect communities nationwide. For more on the Renewal Awards click here for an article from Vermont Business Magazine. Below is an excerpt:

As Iowa voters gear up to decide whose vision for America they support, six organizations, including Champlain Housing Trust in Burlington, were honored with the Allstate/Atlantic Media Renewal Awards for innovative local approaches to pressing issues affecting communities across the country. The awards will were presented Tuesday at a summit on social innovation at Drake University. The six winners, who were identified after a year-long national search and through the Atlantic Media editorial series, represent some of America’s best social innovators. Their efforts confirm a recent National Journal/Allstate Heartland Monitor Poll that found 69 percent of Americans believe that solutions to the country’s biggest economic and social challenges will most likely come from state or local institutions.

Winners, who were profiled by Atlantic Media, were selected from 230 publicly nominated organizations. Judging criteria included the ability to replicate the program in other communities, and the current and future impact of the program. Winners will each receive a $10,000 grant from Allstate to further their work.

“The commitment and creativity demonstrated by these leaders truly embody the spirit of our Renewal Awards,” said Thomas Wilson, chairman and chief executive officer, Allstate Insurance Company. “We often talk about national problems, but these organizations represent local solutions at work. They are renewing America from the ground up and empowering individuals to live a good life. We are proud to support their efforts.”

To read more, click here.

 



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.

 



Champlain Housing Trust Purchases Property from UVM

Posted

The Champlain Housing Trust announced that it has purchased the Ethan Allen Apartments in Essex from the University of Vermont. The property, with 31 apartments in 11 buildings, was sold for $3.9 million.

“We are excited to acquire this property, and appreciate UVM’s desire to work with us to eventually create more affordable homeownership opportunity,” said Michael Monte, chief operating and financial officer for Champlain Housing Trust (CHT).

The organization will offer existing tenants an opportunity to sign a new lease in June. Eventually, 19 of the 31 apartments will slowly be converted to affordable homeownership through CHT’s shared equity program.

The remaining twelve apartments will remain for rent, and will provide future flexibility for CHT to address affordable housing needs for people in need.

“Champlain Housing Trust have been ideal partners to work with on the sale of Ethan Allen Apartments,” said Annie Stevens, Vice Provost for Student Affairs at UVM. “We know that Champlain Housing Trust will be excellent stewards of this property and that they are committed to providing a smooth transition for the student residents and their families as well as assistance for their ongoing affordable housing needs.”

CHT is receiving financing for the purchase through Community Housing Capital, a national Community Development Financial Institution which serves as a direct lender to members of the NeighborWorks America network, like CHT. Most recently, Community Housing Capital financed a similar rental-to-homeownership initiative of CHT’s in Burlington’s south end. The university is also financing a portion of the sale.

The Champlain Housing Trust, founded in 1984, is the largest community land trust in the country. Throughout Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties, CHT manages 2,200 apartments, stewards 565 owner-occupied homes in its signature shared-equity program, offers homebuyer education and financial fitness counseling, provides services to five housing cooperatives, and offers affordable energy efficiency and rehab loans. For more information, visit www.getahome.org.

For a link to this press release, click here.

 



How Bernie Sanders Made Burlington Affordable

Posted January 20, 2016

Slate.com recently published an article on how Senator Bernie Sanders supported the creation of the Burlington Community Land Trust (now known as Champlain Housing Trust) during his time as mayor of Burlington, which helped to improve housing affordability in the area. Below is an excerpt:

Bob Robbins bought his home in 1995 amid a bout of long-term unemployment. Living with his wife and two kids in a rundown rental in Burlington, Vermont, he wanted to stabilize the family’s housing before his children started kindergarten.

Prospects seemed bleak. The family’s savings had dwindled after his unemployment insurance gave out. But in 1993 Robbins saw a newspaper advertisement for something called the Burlington Community Land Trust. He visited its offices and learned about its generous grants for low-income home ownership. The innovative offer would significantly lower the price by allowing the couple to purchase only the house, while the trust paid for the land it sat on. Within two years, his family owned a home in a small town just to the east of the city. The Robbins family bought its home through a conventional realtor and a commercial bank while also entering a covenant with the land trust to lease the land upon their home sits upon. This reduced the costs of their mortgage and down payment substantially.

They’re far from alone. Across the land trust’s portfolio today, there are about 565 other homes that enjoy similar terms, not to mention 2,100 rental and cooperative units. Half of these holdings are located within the city of Burlington itself, which had a total of 16,897 housing units as of 2010, meaning that about 7.6 percent of the stock sits on the nonprofit’s land.

“We don’t understand why housing isn’t done this way everywhere,” says Robbins, who says the cheaper mortgage allowed his family to save money for college and retirement that otherwise would have gone toward housing. “It’s just such a logical thing to have land owned by a community and the house be your private property to do with as you wish. We’ve just had a terrific life here so far because of it.”

While mayor of Burlington in the 1980s, the democratic-socialist senator and current contender for the Democratic presidential nomination was an early champion of community land trusts. Today, the organization whose creation he made possible—now called the Champlain Housing Trust—is the largest and most influential of its type in the nation.

Community land trusts are nonprofit organizations, with a board composed of representatives of the public, the local government, and the tenants, that obtain land and either develop it themselves or lease it to developers. The trust then removes its holdings from the private market, usually through 99-year ground leases and pre-emptive purchase requirements that limit how much the house can be sold for. Community land trust boosters argue that this not only ensures permanent affordability, but allows the organization to intercede in the case of, say, a foreclosure. An oft-cited study by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy showed that, as of 2010, homeowners within a land trust were 10 times less likely to default on their homes than their private-market counterparts.

To continue reading the full article, click here.

 



Vote for Champlain Housing Trust in the Renewal Awards

Posted October 26, 2015

Champlain Housing Trust has been selected as a finalist for the Renewal Awards, a project of Atlantic Media and Allstate, which recognize innovative solutions to the challenges communities face across the country. As part of the selection process, online voting will take place between today and November 2. Six $10,000 awardees will be announced at National Summit on Local Innovation in Des Moines, Iowa in January 2016. If CHT wins the award it will provide them with the opportunity to share information about their affordable homeownership program on a national level and help boost their work locally. Please vote for CHT at www.renewalawards.com, and spread the word amongst your staff, board and members. It would be great recognition for Vermont!

CHT

 



Job Opportunity: Property Manager in St. Albans, Champlain Housing Trust

Posted October 13, 2015

Join Champlain Housing Trust’s Property Management team and serve the affordable housing needs of a diverse group of people in Franklin and Grand Isle counties. You will be responsible for compliance with Federal, State and local programs, leasing and move out coordination. Qualified applicants must have excellent customer service skills, be organized with attention to detail, able to work independently while enjoying a team environment, communicate effectively, exercise sound judgment, and committed to a membership-based model of community controlled and permanently affordable housing. Experience in residential property management, Section 8, LIHTC, HUD and HOME programs a plus. Willing to train the right person.

CHT is a socially responsible employer offering a competitive salary commensurate based on experience. Our benefit package includes training, health insurance, vacation, holiday, sick leave, 403(b), disability and life insurance. Submit a cover letter and resume by October 30th to Human Resources, Champlain Housing Trust, 88 King Street, Burlington, VT 05401 or email HR@champlainhousingtrust.org. No phone calls, please.

Equal Opportunity Employer – CHT is committed to a diverse workplace and highly encourages women, persons with disabilities, Section 3 residents, and people from diverse racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds to apply.

 



Save the Date: “Home Sweet Housing Co-op: Affordability, Community, and Self-Determination” – Saturday, October 3rd

Posted September 11, 2015

Save the Date and Prepare to Be Intrigued! “Home Sweet Housing Co-op: Affordability, Community, and Self-Determination”

On Saturday, October 3rd, from 3 to 5pm, come learn about housing cooperatives in Burlington, around the state, and in Montreal.

To celebrate National Cooperatives Month and foster Burlington’s discussion of housing needs, Champlain Housing Trust and the Mobile Home Program of CVOEO will present this public forum, held at Contois Auditorium in Burlington’s City Hall.

Housing co-ops offer the control and security of owning, without the financial challenge of getting a mortgage. Like other co-op businesses, housing co-ops are owned and democratically run by their members. They have run successfully in Burlington for over 20 years and in Montreal for over 30.

Speakers will include member-owners of apartment co-ops in Burlington; mobile home co-ops in Chittenden County, and housing co-ops in Montreal.

Note: We hope to also offer an information fair about all kinds of co-ops – from grocery co-ops and credit unions to brewing co-ops, utility co-ops, worker co-ops and more – in the Contois lobby before the forum.

 



New Affordable Housing Co-op Underway in Burlington

Posted August 28, 2015

groundbreaking smaller

Photo credit: Kenn Sassorossi

Thursday morning brought together scores of interested onlookers as two local nonprofit housing developers were joined by Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and Vermont’s Speaker of the House Shap Smith to mark the beginning of construction of a new housing co-op in Burlington’s Old North End.

“The Bright Street Housing Cooperative will create greatly-needed new affordable housing opportunities in Burlington, and will continue the recent progress of substantial new investment in the Old North End,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “Congratulations and thank you to the Champlain Housing Trust and Housing Vermont for the creative, dedicated work that has made today’s groundbreaking possible and for your partnership in the long-term effort to make Burlington more affordable.”

“We know that community centers and downtowns are what many young families seek out as they search for places to work and grow a home. The Bright Street Housing Cooperative provides housing opportunity in this neighborhood in a way that reflects local needs and values. It was created with community involvement. When complete, it will offer housing that people need and can afford,” added Vermont Speaker of the House Shap Smith.

Two nonprofits – Champlain Housing Trust and Housing Vermont – are collaborating to build the development that will create 40 new homes on the one and a quarter acre brownfield site. Construction is underway and occupancy is expected in September, 2016. Four old, blighted buildings are to be removed to make way for the new housing in three buildings. Land is set aside for the possibility of installing a community garden at a later date.

“We are excited to be here in the Old North End creating new affordable apartments for the first time in more than a decade,” said Brenda Torpy, CEO of the Champlain Housing Trust. “We’re also thrilled to be organizing this development as a co-op giving the residents some of the benefits of ownership – as the neighborhood requested – while imparting leadership and business skills to the people who move in.”

Funding for the housing came from a variety of sources, including investments made by TD Bank through the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. Grants from HUD-funded programs were instrumental to the development, including support from NeighborWorks® America, HOME and Community Development Block Grants (commonly known as CDBG), the latter administered by the City of Burlington. Support and financing also came from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, Vermont Housing Finance Agency, Burlington Electric Department, Vermont Gas, the City of Burlington’s Housing Trust Fund, TD Charitable Foundation, and the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission.

In addition, the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission and State of Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation early support allowed the developers to hire professional expertise to conduct Environmental Site Assessments and Archeological Resource Assessments of the property, facilitating the redevelopment.

“While this project will bring long lasting housing and community development benefits to residents, the neighborhood and the broader community, it also generates significant economic advantages,” said Housing Vermont President Nancy Owens. “It will create 118 on-site jobs and 177 off-site jobs while providing more than $25 million in construction and indirect economic benefit.”

D.E.W. Construction out of Williston is the general contractor for the development and Duncan Wisniewski Architecture is the project’s architect. The cost of the development, including the environmental clean-up of the site, is approximately $11.7 million.

The housing will include a range of bedroom sizes to house both individuals and families. While not firm yet, rents for the two-bedroom expect to range between $775 and $1,200 a month, heat and hot water included. Fair Market Rent, as determined by HUD, is $1,328 for a two-bedroom apartment.

“We receive over 150 applications a month from people looking for an affordable rental, and we’ll only have a handful available,” explained CHT’s Torpy. “Building new housing like this is so critical for people in Burlington and surrounding communities.”

For more coverage of this story view the articles linked below:
Nonprofits Break Ground on Bright St. Co-op (Burlington Free Press)
City Celebrates New Option For Low-Cost Living (WPTZ)

 



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