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VHCB Will Use $35 Million in Bond Funds to Address Vermont’s Housing Shortage

Posted June 28, 2017

Our friends at VHCB have asked us to pass along the good news on the new $35 million housing bond, which became law yesterday when Governor Scott signed the FY 18 Appropriations Act. This measure will have a tremendous impact on making safe, affordable housing available to low- and middle-income Vermonters. We are excited to work with all of our community partners as the process to develop new affordable homes moves forward. Many thanks to everyone who helped make this happen, from the Governor and his team, to the Speaker, Pro Tem and numerous key lawmakers, VHCB, VHFA, and all our community partners who helped advocate.


June 28, 2017
Contact: Gus Seelig, Executive Director, 828-3251,
Jen Hollar, Director of Policy and Special Projects: cell: 793-7346;

The Vermont Housing & Conservation Board will use $35 million in new funding for the creation of rental housing and home ownership opportunities for 550-650 low- and moderate-income Vermonters over the next two to three years. The bold, new initiative represents the largest state investment in housing in more than a decade.  It was first proposed by Governor Phil Scott in his January budget address, gained strong support in the legislature, and was signed into law today.

Governor Scott said, “When workers are unable to find adequate, affordable housing, economic growth is constrained. Vermont has a very low rate of rental vacancy and we need to increase access to homeownership. This effort will ratchet up the production of new housing to serve households at a wide range of incomes, spur economic growth, create jobs, and have a significant impact on Vermont’s supply of housing.”

Tim Ashe, President Pro Tempore of the Vermont Senate, said, “I’ve seen the housing shortage up close. In my time at Cathedral Square, we’d fill up new buildings within hours. Literally. So when I met with Governor Scott in November and we both expressed a strong interest in seeing more housing supply, I knew it was a matter of how we’d do it, not if we’d do it. I want to thank Senators Mullin, Sirotkin, Balint, Baruth, and Clarkson and Representative Head and her team for their hard work to see it to the finish line.”

Helen Head, Chair of the Vermont House General, Housing and Military Affairs Committee, said, “Vermont’s housing crunch has been well-documented. According to a study commissioned by the legislature last summer, we can reduce homelessness dramatically with a targeted approach, creating more housing with support services along with housing for the lowest income households. Middle income households also struggle to find housing. This housing initiative will address the needs of a wide range of Vermonters and we’re proud to support it.”

Gus Seelig, Executive Director of VHCB, said, “We appreciate the support of the Governor and the Legislative Leadership in advancing this exciting initiative.  The first 100 homes should be under construction across the state before the end of the year.”

The bond funds will be matched with state, federal, and private sources to leverage approximately $2-$3 for every one dollar of bond funds, resulting in $70-100 million in additional resources for housing development. Spending on affordable housing yields multiple benefits across the economy. The $35 million housing bond will also act as a stimulus package, generating millions of dollars of economic activity through the creation of jobs and the purchase of goods. At least 25% of the housing will be targeted to households with incomes below $35,000 and another 25% will be targeted to middle-income Vermonters earning $55,000-$83,000 annually (for 4-person households). The balance of the funds will be awarded to projects based on community needs, applications received and the availability of resources for leverage.

“Every night, our shelter, just like shelters across the state, is full of people who need and deserve a home,” said Sara Kobylenski, Executive Director of the Upper Valley Haven, based in White River Junction. “We have allowed ourselves to slide into an alarming housing deficit, and the most vulnerable people in our communities are suffering for it. The housing bond is a timely investment that will improve the lives of many Vermonters.”

“Housing construction is critical piece of our economic engine, and this proposal promises to create hundreds of good paying jobs. It’s also vital to employers who say time and time again how hard it is for their employees or prospective employees to find adequate, affordable housing,” said Tom Torti, President and CEO of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce and board member of the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS).

In collaboration with the Department of Housing and Community Development, VHCB is gathering input on the highest priority housing needs and potential projects in regional meetings across the state. VHCB will be accepting applications and funding developments for the construction and rehabilitation of rental housing and single-family homes with an emphasis on creating new homes.

The revenue bond will be issued by the Vermont Housing Finance Agency. It is expected to yield $33-34 million in proceeds and will be paid by a $2.5 million in annual revenue from the property transfer tax over 20 years, through 2039.

Sources: The Vermont Futures Project of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, January 2017; Roadmap to End Homelessness, The Corporation for Supportive Housing, December 2016; Vermont’s Statewide Housing Needs Assessment by Bowen National Research, 2014

VHCB makes loans and grants for the creation of affordable housing and the conservation of agricultural and recreational lands, forest land, natural areas and historic properties.

Read this synopsis of the Housing Revenue Bond Initiative.

Read more about the Governor’s budget and the housing bond from the Burlington Free Press.


Ceremony Launches Vermont’s First, Multi-Family Passive House Building

Posted May 6, 2016

Milton, VT—State and local officials, and leaders from finance and nonprofit housing organizations, marked the construction start of an innovative, affordable housing community for seniors at a groundbreaking ceremony on May 2nd.

Elm Place is located at 60 Bombardier Road in Milton and will be Vermont’s first multi-family building certified to Passive House standards. The super energy-efficient building will use roughly 65% less energy than those built to today’s standard codes. This efficiency is achieved through better windows and doors, added insulation, and improved air sealing.

Elm Place, developed by Cathedral Square, is expected to open in March, 2017, and will provide thirty, affordable, one-bedroom apartments for low-income seniors. Amenities are to include covered parking, laundry facilities, on-site storage, exercise room, and more. Rent will include heat, air conditioning, hot water, laundry and electricity. Support And Services at Home (SASH) will be offered to residents at no cost. SASH is a care coordination program which gives residents access to the care they need to stay healthy while living comfortably and safely at home.

Kim Fitzgerald, Cathedral Square’s CEO, said, “the Passive House focus on sustainability and human comfort aligns well with our vision for affordable senior housing. It’s very exciting to reduce our carbon footprint while increasing comfort and quality of life.”

Liz Gamache, Director of Efficiency Vermont, said, “So, as Elm Place is indeed a project that will provide a viable, healthy and affordable place for seniors to live for years to come, and benefits that go beyond the four walls, we see the reduction of economic and environmental burdens — not just for the residents, but their families and also future generations.”

Elm Place development costs were funded by sources including Vermont Housing Finance Agency, People’s United Bank, the Vermont Community Development Program, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the HOME Investment Partnership, The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Efficiency Vermont, the TD Charitable Foundation, the charitable giving arm of TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, Commons Energy, Enterprise Community Partners, The Housing Assistance Council, Vermont Gas, and in-kind support provided by the Town of Milton.


To read more about Elm Place, click here.


New Affordable Energy Efficient Housing Coming to Addison County


Addison County Community Trust and Cathedral Square are helping to turn what was a blighted mobile home park into a net zero energy rental community that will provide new affordable and environmentally friendly housing options for local residents. Below is coverage of this story from

Vermonters are facing a shortage when it comes to affordable housing.

Leaving some families with limited living options.

But soon, new affordable housing is coming to Addison County, and it’s also environmentally friendly.

Today was demolition day of the old Gevry Mobile Home Park in Waltham, making way for the new McKnight Lane neighborhood.

A once forgotten neighborhood outside the city of Vergennes has been empty for six years.

And on Wednesday the Gevry Mobile Home Park began its new life.

Katie Forleo of Cathedral Square says: “Cathedral Square and ACCT… are collaborating to redevelop this mobile home park.”

Forleo works for the non-profit Cathedral Square and says this project is in phase one, and fourteen homes will be removed and will eventually make way for the McKnight Lane neighborhood.

“There is going to be fourteen high performance modular homes and they are all being manufactured in the state of Vermont.” says Forleo

The total cost of the redevelopment? Three and half million dollars.

Forleo says “There will be a mix of two and three bedroom homes. And it will all be afford able housing for families, which is filling a void within this community.”

Addison County lacks in available affordable housing for families, and the construction of McKnight Lane could be a small step in the right direction.

Chris Falk of Cathedral Square says: “Within months this place will look beautiful.”

Falk says a lot has to be done before the first model home arrives June 27th?

First they have to remove all the debris.

Next will come remediation of any contaminates in the soil

“All the material used in the units are going to be sustainable, such as bamboo flooring. We will have a sidewalk in place that will let the residence walk into town.” says Falk

The goal is to become a net zero neighborhood by powering the homes from renewable energy sources that net a zero dollar annual energy cost.

The completion of the McKnight neighborhood is scheduled for the end of this November.

For a link to the full story, including video, click here.


Vogel: Housing Legislation

Posted March 3, 2016

Yesterday, VPR featured commentary from John Vogel on housing legislation:

In 2014, the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development hired Bowen National Research to conduct a statewide housing needs assessment. The study concluded that Vermont has a significant housing shortage, especially for families and seniors who make less than $20,000 per year.

By my calculation, at the current rate at which we’re building affordable housing, we’ll need at least 125 years to overcome this shortage. And that assumes that the number of low income seniors and families doesn’t increase.

Vermonters may disagree about how much of our tax dollars should go into housing and how much should go into other worthy programs. But I think that all Vermonters would agree that we shouldn’t waste precious housing resources and good development opportunities.

That’s why I was pleased when some of our State Representatives including Jim Masland, Allison Clarkson and William Bostow introduced bills to streamline the process for developing affordable housing. All three bills are modeled after legislation that works successfully in other states, and in the case of H123, works successfully in 49 other states. Best of all, none of these pieces of legislation requires any additional money.

Perhaps I’m naïve, but after what happened in Woodstock, where a 28 unit project was delayed for nine years costing Vermont Taxpayers well over a million dollars in extra legal fees, interest payments and the like, I’d hoped that the legislature would step up and fix the problem. Representatives Masland, Clarkson and Bostow looked at what other states do and came up with some important improvements.

What surprises me is that none of these proposals seems to be gaining much traction. As Representative Masland explained, it takes time to build a coalition.And it’s hard to pass new legislation during an election year.

But I wish our legislators would visit the beautiful, affordable homes in Woodstock and ask the residents how they spent the last nine years while they were waiting for these homes to get built.

I also wish our legislators would talk to families and seniors living in motels or in their cars, ask them how they’re enjoying the winter and then explain that they will get decent housing if they can just hold on for another 125 years.

For a link to the original article, including audio, click here.


Putney Considers Affordable Housing on Newman Hall Lot

Posted February 16, 2016

The Brattleboro Reformer reports on the proposal of new affordable housing in Putney developed by Windham & Windsor Housing Trust:

The Affordable Housing Committee met Feb. 1 to discuss a proposed affordable housing project for the Newman Hall lot.

The housing project is located between Depot Street and Putney Landing Road, south of Curtis’ All American Barbecue. The project would include a mix of family and smaller apartments for a total of 18 units with a combination of townhouses and accessible flats. The site plan was first presented at the Dec. 15 meeting, which showed three structures in a U-shaped arrangement around a south-facing courtyard. The Feb. 1 meeting was attended by Connie Snow, Executive Director of Windham & Windsor Housing Trust and Bob Stevens of Stevens and Associates, who is the project civil engineer.

“We’re really excited about what seems to be an opportunity to meet the needs of affordable housing in Putney” said Snow during a January interview.

The project is nearing the end of the preliminary design phase, and is considered “feasible,” and a project information sheet was provided at the Feb. 1 meeting. Snow referenced a market study for the project by Doug Kennedy Advisors, which is focused on providing research, analyses and strategies to their clients’ real estate issues.

The study indicates that the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment with utilities in Putney is $940 per month. The rent with utilities for the proposed project is $525 to $600 per month for subsidized housing. A market rate unit would also be included with a rent and utilities at $697 per month. The proposed project rent for a two bedroom apartment would be $875 and for a three bedroom, $900. According to the study, the current average Putney rent for a two bedroom is $1,020 and $1,570 for a three bedroom.

WWHT develops affordable apartments throughout Windham and Windsor counties, and provides property management services and supportive services that seek to ensure long-term resident stability. WWHT recently completed the $2.4 million renovation of the Planz House, 27 Depot Road, into affordable apartments.

To continue reading the article, click here.


Burlington, Vermont Approves Housing Plan and Builds Trust Fund

Posted January 22, 2016

The Center for Community Change did a great feature on the Burlington Housing Action Plan and Housing Trust Fund in their Housing Trust Fund Project Winter 2016 Newsletter:

The Burlington City Council unanimously approved a Housing Action Plan that includes 22 initiatives to create new housing and reduce costs in Vermont’s largest city, including expanding the City’s Housing Trust Fund.

The Housing Action plan adopted by the city council was drafted over sixteen months. In 2014, a study commissioned by the city found that 58 percent of city residents are renters and spend an average of 44 percent of their income on housing. It also found the city lagging in production of new housing particularly for low and moderate income households. City officials then engaged the public and business sectors to create the Housing Action Plan. The 22 proposals include prioritizing affordable housing, expanding the Housing Trust Fund, reducing regulatory barriers, exploring transportation options and parking, building code reform, reviewing college housing, and creating new approaches to homelessness. Also among the recommendations were steps to improve home energy efficiency.

The Burlington Housing Trust Fund was created in 1987 and is designed to support the development and preservation of affordable homes for low-income households. The funding comes from a dedicated property tax approved by the voters in 1989. Grants are made to nonprofit housing organizations to fund both the development and operating costs associated with sustaining affordable housing. The fund is administered by the Community and Economic Development Office and half of the funds are allocated to housing development and rehabilitation, 35% to housing organizations for operations, and 15% for administration.

The FY2016 budget increases funding by $175,000, or nearly doubles the revenues going into the Housing Trust Fund. The City views the Fund as providing valuable capital and capacity for advancing affordable housing in the City. For decades, housing affordability has been identified as a significant challenge for the City and its residents and a coalition of affordable housing nonprofits have worked to advance policies to address these goals. Allocating a full penny per every $100 of property value increases current funding of about $180,000 to $340,000. This advance was recommended in the City Housing Action plan including making revisions to the City’s Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance to better complement the Housing Trust Fund, including restoring the in-lieu fee option.

The Burlington Housing Trust Fund has consistently provided support for affordable housing activities and the nonprofit housing community. In its last annual report, the Fund committed more than $500,000, including revenues, program income and carry over. Some $360,000 supported affordable housing activities and another $120,000 provided capacity funds to nonprofit organizations.

While advocates have praised these steps, questions are also being raised about: why not more? The full penny is a good investment, but much more is needed to fully address the need for safe affordable homes throughout Burlington. Erhard Mahnke with the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition praised the plan, but noted that with declining federal support for affordable housing, the Trust Fund needs to focus on those with the greatest need and those who work in Burlington, but cannot afford to live there. Mahnke also pushed the City to consider making permanent the one-cent increase to the Housing Trust Fund. And on his side, is City Councilor Sharon Bushor who said the increase should be incorporated into the City Charter asked her fellow councilors: “If housing is our number one issue, then we really need to look at what general fund (money) we’re setting aside on an annual basis to address this.”

For a link to the full article, click here.


West Lebanon Apartment Complex Preserved After USDA Loan

Posted November 24, 2015

Twin Pines Housing Trust recently purchased the former Pine Tree Lane and Beechwood Lane apartments — now known as the Village at Crafts Hill — with a $6.8 million loan from the USDA Rural Development program, preserving 88 rent-subsidized units in the Upper Valley. Below is an excerpt from a WCAX report on the story:

Tenants of a low income housing complex in West Lebanon were running out of time and options. They were at risk of losing their homes, but now their worries are now over.

“Your homes have been preserved, and they’ve been preserved for the next 30 years,” said Ted Brady, United States Department of Agriculture.

Sighs of relief from the tenants of Pine Tree Lane apartments. This was news they thought would never come.

“I don’t have to move anything. Thank God,” said Anne Hughes, resident.

WCAX first met Hughes in April, just days after she and more than a hundred other tenants of Pine Tree Lane apartments received notes explaining the apartment’s rental assistance contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development was due to expire. By December 31, 2015, Hughes and all of her neighbors, either had to provide full rental payment or move out.

“I filled out applications. Waited and waited,” said Hughes.

Things weren’t looking up. Hughes said there weren’t many options for her in the Upper Valley.

“They all want more than the apartment’s worth and they want a security deposit and they want the first months and the last month’s rent. And I’m on disability, Social Security doesn’t give you a whole lot,” said Hughes.

As the December deadline inched closer, many of her neighbors moved out. Hughes says she was starting to lose hope when she got word that someone was looking out for them.

“When we heard in April that Pine Tree might be lost as affordable housing, we knew instinctively that we needed to be part of the solution,” said Andrew Winter, Twin Pines Housing Trust.

Twin Pines Housing Trust used a $6.7 million USDA loan to purchase the 50-unit Pine Tree Lane and adjacent 50-unit Beechwood Lane apartment complexes. Residents of the two complexes will receive subsidized assistance and be able to stay in their homes.

“When a community cares enough about their own well-being, their own safety and protection and their own home and hearth to come together to save it, I’m just proud to be a part of that,” said Rep. Ann Kuster, D-New Hampshire.

The name of the complex will change. It will be called the “Village at Crafts Hill.” Residents who currently live there, like Hughes, will have to update their addresses. She says compared to losing her home, that’s a minor inconvenience.

“This is beyond awesome,” said Hughes.

To view the full story, including video, click here.

For the Valley News report, click here.


Affordable Housing Development Opens in Middlebury

Posted November 2, 2015

WCAX recently reported on the new Peter Coe Village Apartments, which are now open in Middlebury:

The rule goes: if you’re looking for an affordable apartment to rent in Middlebury, look elsewhere.

“We have a very low vacancy rate in Middlebury and in Addison County as a whole. Close to zero percent,” said Elise Shanbacker, Addison County Community Trust.

Now, there are a few openings thanks to 21 new apartments built on North Pleasant Street, replacing an old motel that the developer says was riddled with crime.

“The motel units didn’t serve our residents well and didn’t serve our community well,” said Kenn Sassorossi, Housing Vermont.

In the new Peter Coe Village Apartments, a two-bedroom goes for $785 a month, well below market rate.

“Median rent is about a $1,000 in this community, $1,000 for a two-bedroom,” said Shanbacker.

A combination of public and private investors poured $6.4 million into the project. A model for development the town may look to expand.

“There is also work going on in the Middlebury planning commission looking specifically at affordable housing, the housing stock available in Middlebury, and what segments of the population are not being well-served,” said Chris English, assistant town manager.

“Nearly half of Addison County residents are cost-burdened; they pay more than a third of their income a month in rent,” said Shanbacker.

Soon, 21 families can open the doors to a new apartment and by 2017 the town plan could change to demand that opportunity for hundreds more.

For the full article, including video, click here.


Progress on New Affordable Housing Units in Central Vermont

Posted October 15, 2015

Downstreet Housing & Community Development is making progress on a new development in Barre that will contain 27 units of affordable housing. The ground floor of the Downstreet Apartments will contain an office that will be the new home for the organization upon completion in late Spring of 2016. For more information on this view the Times Argus report here and the Downstreet website here.

Downstreet Housing & Community Development is also working with Housing Vermont on plans to redevelop units above the Aubuchon Hardware store on Montpelier’s Main Street. Upon completion the 18 one-bedroom units would be a mixture of market rate and affordable housing. For more on this story view the VPR report here.


Affordable Housing Development Opens In Woodstock

Posted September 23, 2015

Yesterday Woodstock, Vermont’s first affordable housing development officially opened. Safford Commons consists of 28 energy-efficient rental apartments at the site of the former Grange Hall and church. Valley News reported last week on how it took less than 10 days to fill every unit in the complex, which now has a waiting list with more than 40 names on it. Read more about Safford Commons and the ribbon cutting celebration below in this article from VPR:

The first affordable housing project for the affluent Upper Valley town of Woodstock was officially opened Tuesday. The Safford Commons project has been a long time coming in an area where demand is high.

The 28 energy-efficient apartments are clustered in multi-colored cottage-like dwellings on the site of a former Grange Hall not far from Woodstock High School. Abutters to the land fought the project for over a decade, saying that duplexes and triplexes would mar the natural setting. But they lost their court battle.

“There’s nothing to fight, and there’s nothing to fear, because in Vermont we do it right,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin before triumphantly cutting a shiny ribbon strung across one of the front porches.

Funding for the $9.5 million complex came from a patchwork of public and private sources, including the Woodstock Community Trust. President Patsy Highberg said persistence and multiple partnerships have paid dividends for tenants now living affordably in an area where the cost of living is high.

“The length of our battle makes these homes around us even more unbelievable as we stand here today to welcome new and current residents to our community,” Highberg told the audience gathered under a tent.

Rents range from $600 for a subsidized 1-bedroom unit to $1,000 for a two-bedroom apartment at market price. Donna Crawford happily moved here from New Jersey with her mother after her father died. He had once been a businessman in Springfield, Vermont.

“He died in August so we decided to move back up home, bring mom back home. And … yes, she lives with me, she’s 88,” Crawford said, smiling.

The entire housing complex was fully rented in about 10 days. Andrew Winter, director of Twin Pines Housing Trust, which manages the property, says housing demand still outstrips supply.

“And unfortunately the bad news is that we’ve got a really long wait list of over 40 families that are trying to get in here that won’t be able to,” said Winter.

Eventually Safford Commons hopes to add four more units. Meanwhile, Winter says, Twin Pines is expanding affordable housing in other locations, including Hartford. The rental vacancy rate in the Upper Valley is very low, between 1 and 2 percent.

For the full article, including audio, click here. For further coverage of this event view Vermont Business Magazine‘s article here.


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