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Senate Passes, Obama To Sign Key Housing Reforms Backed By Leahy

Posted July 18, 2016

WASHINGTON (FRIDAY, July 15, 2016) – Before leaving for the summer recess, the U.S. Senate Thursday night approved legislation championed by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy (D) to make needed and long overdue reforms to several federal housing programs. The Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

The Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act was approved unanimously by the House of Representatives in February, and the bill cleared the Senate Thursday night without opposition. Leahy is a cosponsor of the Senate version of the bill. In May he wrote to the leaders of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama and Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, urging them to lead the committee’s consideration of this legislation and to advance it to the full Senate for a vote.

Leahy, a longtime champion of affordable housing, said: “It is not often that such significant legislation receives such overwhelming support in Congress. After having heard from affordable housing advocates from throughout Vermont and New England, I was proud to cosponsor the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act.”

Leahy continued, “There is no doubt of the impact that federal rental assistance programs have in rural states like ours, and these are commonsense reforms to key housing programs that Congress has not reassessed in nearly two decades. Increasing opportunities for extremely low-income families and families experiencing hardship should be a priority in every community, and at every level of government. I am encouraged to see this level of support for affordable housing initiatives and hardworking advocates throughout our country, and I am pleased this legislation will be signed into law.”

The new law will make several reforms to Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs, and particularly to the Housing Choice Voucher program, also known as Section 8. The legislation addresses many priorities of the nation’s affordable housing community, including a more streamlined system for administering federally assisted housing programs. These steps will cut costs and allow providers to meet the needs of a more low-income families seeking assistance. The law will also allow housing agencies to use project-based vouchers for individuals and families who may be homeless, encouraging greater income growth and economic mobility among assisted families. The law also will support communities that seek to make needed repairs to aging public housing stock to improve the quality of life for current and future residents.

Erhard Mahnke, coordinator of the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, said: “I am absolutely thrilled that the Senate has overcome partisan differences to pass this common sense bill.” He added: “These reforms provide Vermont new tools to reduce homelessness, preserve affordable housing, and increase self-sufficiency for low-income Vermonters. Our deepest thanks go to Senator Leahy for his leadership in helping to make this happen!”

The bill now set to become law was strongly supported by the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition and the Vermont State Housing Authority. It is also endorsed by a broad coalition of national organizations, including the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Housing Assistance Council, the National Council of State Housing Agencies, the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Organizations, the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association, and the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights also strongly supports the legislation, as does the National Association of Realtors.

For a link to this press release, click here.


NYT Editorial: Fight for the Housing Trust Fund

Posted January 15, 2013

Reposted from the New York Times Editorial section, January 13, 2013.

“Despite the Obama administration’s best efforts, the lack of affordable housing remains one of America’s most vexing problems.

A $1.5 billion transfusion in the 2009 stimulus bill managed to hold the overall homeless population about even over the last four years, and the number of people in two especially vulnerable groups — the chronically homeless and homeless veterans — has actually dropped.

But with nearly 3.3 million families with children living in “worst case” situations — spending more than half their incomes on housing or living in hazardous buildings — more must be done to create affordable housing, through rehabilitation or new construction…”

Link to Full New York Times Editorial 

View PDF of Full New York Times Editorial

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New York Times Editorial: The Affordable Housing Crisis

Posted December 6, 2012

Reposted from The New York Times Editorial pages, December 4, 2012

“The precious few federal programs that provide rental assistance to the nation’s poorest and most vulnerable families are already underfinanced. These programs provide decent housing for about only a quarter of the low-income families who qualify for them. And with nearly nine million households teetering on the verge of homelessness, the country clearly needs more support for affordable housing, not less.

The main federal programs are traditional public housing, for which the government provides operating expenses, plus two different programs under Section 8 of the housing law, in which rents are subsidized in privately owned properties. Federal housing programs provide a lifeline for about five million low-income households that would otherwise be unable to afford livable housing at all.”

Link to Full Article 

PDF of Full Article

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Put People First Candidate Forums – Wednesday, October 24

Posted October 23, 2012

Wednesday, October 24th, 6:00-8:00 pm at the Vermont Veterans Home (Christ Room), 325 North St., Bennington

Wednesday, October 24, 6:00-8:00 pm at the Municipal Building Gym, 222 Main St., Newport

Join your neighbors as we share our stories of the interconnected human rights crises in Vermont, explain what we expect from our elected officials, and put the legislative candidates on notice that we will hold them accountable to our human rights vision of government that puts people first. We need healthcare as a human right, a People’s Budget, respect for the rights of workers, transportation and mobility options for all, a healthy environment and livable planet, and for all of us to be treated with dignity, including those of us who are immigrants and have disabilities. These forums will be hosted by the Vermont Human Rights Council, and are part of a statewide grassroots initiative to build a movement for human rights and real democracy.

Put People First Candidate’s Forum Poster


Affordable Housing Convention Beds Down in Queen City

Posted September 12, 2012

By Kyle Midura, WCAX

Reposted from, September 11, 2012

“Affordable housing advocates say their job is getting tougher as they tackle higher demand with less resources. This week, Burlington plays host to a large national conference, as attendees from across the U.S. and the world look to learn from the Queen City’s example.

National spokespeople call Burlington, and Vermont in general, a model for affordable housing efforts. But, city leaders say there’s still a lot of work left.

August First owner Jodi Whalen scrawled the word “grateful” into the concrete outside her Burlington bakery. Whalen says it’s a reminder of all that she’s thankful for, including the initial grant that allowed her to become a homeowner years ago.

“We had great credit, but we just couldn’t afford a house in the Burlington market,” she said, “and the housing trust came to the rescue and helped us out.”

She bought a new home on her own two years later. Now, she champions affordable housing issues, and is one of about 300 attending the National Community Land Trust Network conference in Burlington this week…”

Link to Full Article 

Link to Video

PDF of Full Article


Save the Date: Housing 101 Training

Posted June 29, 2012

Sponsored by: Washington County Agency Programs & Case Managers

Everything you always wanted to know to be able to help an individual or family with housing, but were afraid to ask!

  • When: Friday, September 28, 2012
  • Where: Pavilion Auditorium, Montpelier, Vermont.
  • Time: 9:00am – 3:00p

Topics May Include: 

  • Vouchers – Section 8, Shelter Plus Care & Family Unification
  • Point in Time Survey Data
  • General Assistance & Housing Replacement Funds
  • Federal & State Initiatives
  • Housing & Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault
  • Housing & Veterans

If you have any questions please contact: Allison Joyal Silveria, Central Vermont Community Action Council. 802.479.1053.




NLIHC Memo to Members Article: Vermont Advocates Celebrate Multiple Wins in Legislative Session

Posted June 11, 2012

The Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition (VAHC), an NLIHC state coalition partner, is celebrating multiple victories coming out of the state’s legislative session. Despite challenges brought by a five-year budget defi cit and fl ood damage from Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011, several homeless and affordable housing programs received increased funding. Advocates also are heartened by Governor Peter Shumlin’s decision to make housing and addressing homelessness top priorities for the second year in a row.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have a governor and legislative
leaders who understand that housing is a basic human need without
which no one can succeed, and that homelessness prevention saves
the state money in the long run,” said Erhard Mahnke, VAHC’s
coordinator. “Th ey also know that investing public dollars in
permanently aff ordable housing makes good economic sense and
increases the sustainability of our rural villages and small cities.”

Major legislation broadly infl uencing aff ordable housing, S.99, passed
this session and provides support to mobile home communities
and advances eff orts to preserve the Vermont’s aff ordable housing
stock. VAHC and its partners worked closely with state legislators
on the bill’s language and successfully infl uenced the legislature to
secure its passage.

The bill directs the Department of Economic Housing and
Community Development to work with stakeholders to develop a
plan to help mobile home communities become resistant to natural
disasters. Mobile homes were especially vulnerable in the 2011
storm, which destroyed or damaged more than 3,500 Vermont
homes, including more than 500 mobile homes. Th e plan must
include methods to identify barriers to mobile home ownership and
assess the potential loss of mobile home parks and their aff ordability.
Also included was an amendment to the state’s Mobile Home Park
Statute, which extends from 90 to 120 days the time that residents
can negotiate for the purchase of a mobile home park. Coupled with
technical assistance funds, this provision is designed to encourage
the creation of resident-owned mobile home cooperatives.

S.99 also includes a major change to the state’s Fair Housing Act by
adding income as a protected class to address discrimination in land
use decisions, and to protect aff ordable housing developments from
discrimination during the permitting process. Th is amendment was
included to address pushback in areas where storm-damaged mobile
home communities may need to relocate. Advocates and lawmakers
believe the amendment, modeled after similar provisions in Florida
and North Carolina state law, is perhaps the most protective
legislation against income discrimination in the nation.

As a companion to S.99, Governor Shumlin supported and the
legislature approved an expansion of the Vermont Aff ordable
Housing Tax Credit. Th e expansion permanently increases from
$100,000 to $300,000 the fi rst-year amount of state tax credits
the state’s housing fi nance fgency can issue for owner-occupied
housing. Because the tax credit is a fi ve-year credit, the annual award
represents an additional $1 million in credits. It is expected to raise
$900,000 in equity annually, intended initially to help fund a new
statewide aff ordable mobile home fi nancing program spearheaded
by VAHC and Champlain Housing Trust, an NLIHC member. Th e
legislature appropriated $350,000 to help seed the program.
Housing and homeless programs funded through the state’s General
Fund also fared well. A new state rental assistance program will
receive $730,000 to help alleviate homelessness. Advocates hope
the program will cut down on expenditures for emergency motel
vouchers. In addition, the budget includes $500,000 for another
new rental assistance program for residents with mental health
disabilities, operated by the Vermont State Housing Authority for
the Agency of Human Services (AHS). Other AHS-administered
housing assistance and supportive services programs received level
or increased funding; they included an investment in off ender reentry
housing, which has increased by more than 450% over the
last four years.

For the second year in a row, VAHC and its partners were successful
in getting the legislature and governor to use state funds to replace
$1.7 million in federal Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing
funds, providing needed continued assistance to families on the
verge of homelessness (see Memo, 5/20/11). Vermont’s Housing and
Conservation Trust Fund was increased for a second year in a row, as
well; its dedicated funding source—the property transfer tax—was
restored following years of raids to help meet state budget gaps. Total
funding in FY13 will be $14 million, a $1.2 million increase.
Advocates attribute a large part of their success to the National
Mortgage Settlement, which allocated $2.5 million to Vermont.
Of that total, $1.1 million has been designated for housing and
foreclosure counseling in FY13.
For more information, contact Erhard Mahnke at erhardm@


HUD Fair Housing Accessibility Training: Thursday, May 31st

Posted May 29, 2012

HUD is offering free Fair Housing Accessibility training in New Hampshire next week. Please see the attached flyer and registration form. The training will include: An Overview of the Design & Construction Requirements of the Fair Housing Act, Strategies for Compliant Kitchens, and Strategies for Compliant Bathrooms

Date:            May 31, 2012

Time:            8:00 AM to 4:15 PM

Location:     New Hampshire Finance Authority, 32 Constitution Drive, Bedford, NH

This program is registered with the American Institute of Architects. Architects will receive up to 6 continuing education credits. Please forward this message to anyone who may be interested in attending.

If you have any questions, please contact John Ritzu – Program ManagerFair Housing FIRST/LCM Architects1-312-913-1717 x228    Merryl Gibbs HUD Office of Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity New England Phone:  617-994-8305Fax: 617-778-5216 or 617-565-7313E-mail:

Training Flyer

Registration Form


Vermont CDBG-Disaster Recovery Funding

Posted April 26, 2012

Re-posted from: Vermont Community Development Program – Josh Hanford, Director ( 

Dear Interested Parties;

As many of you know, the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development (DEHCD) will receive $21,660,211 from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in Community Development Block Grant- Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds.  The official notice of this funding, the Federal Register Notice, was released on April 16, 2012 and is attached here.  It contains the rules, regulations and process for the DEHCD to access the funding allocated to Vermont.  DEHCD has 90 days to develop an Action Plan which identifies the unmet and long term recovery needs of the area’s most impacted and distressed as the result of declared major disasters in Vermont in 2011.  These major disasters include FEMA Disaster Declaration 1995 (April 23-May 9, 2011 flood), FEMA Disaster Declaration 4001 (May 26-27, 2011 flood), and of course FEMA Disaster Declaration 4022 (August 27- September 2, 2011 Tropical Storm Irene).  These funds will be available to help communities with the necessary expenses related to disaster relief, long-term recovery, restoration of infrastructure and housing, and economic revitalization in the most impacted and distressed areas receiving major disaster declarations.  The Federal Notice requires the state to target at least 80 percent of this funding ($17,328,169) to Washington and Windsor Counties.  DEHCD request to HUD, to expand the 80 percent targeting requirement to include Windham and Rutland Counties was denied.

The state has committed to use some portion of this allocation to help municipalities meet the 25% match for property buy-outs under the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP).  DEHCD is in the process of determining the other unmet needs and uses of the CDBG-DR funds.  DEHCD is currently soliciting input on unmet needs through surveys, input from stakeholders and partners.  It appears likely that CDBG-DR funding will be available to address the long term recovery needs of housing, economic development and infrastructure.  Specific allocations of funding for housing, economic development and infrastructure have yet to be determined.  These specifics along with proposed levels of funding for planning and project implementation will be outlined in the Draft Disaster Action Plan prepared by DEHCD.  DEHCD is targeting to have the Draft Disaster Action Plan available in late May.  Public Hearings will be made available for comments and questions on the Draft Disaster Action Plan.

The Public Hearing schedule is as follows:

  • June 5, 2012 – 11:30am – 1:30pm, Latchis Theater Studio 4 in Brattleboro, VT
  • June 7, 2012 – 3:30 – 5:30pm, Bugbee Senior Center in White River Junction, VT
  • June 12, 2012 – 5:00 – 7:00pm, Montpelier Lost Nation Theater in Montpelier VT

The Public Hearing Notice will be published in area newspapers and posting of the Draft Disaster Action Plan will be available on the following websites  and

HUD is expected to approve Vermont’s Disaster Action Plan within 45 days of receipt.  Based on this timeline, DEHCD plans to make applications forms for CDBG-DR funding available by late August – early September.  CDBG-DR funding can only be used to address needs that can’t be met by insurance proceeds, FEMA, SBA, other state, local or federal programs and charitable funding.  Projects must address an impact related to Major Disaster Declarations within a county that received a Presidential disaster declaration in 2011.  They must also be a CDBG-eligible activity and address a national objective such as benefitting low and moderate income people or addressing an urgent need.  One of the best ways to prepare for the successful use of these funds is to pursue and document each of these other funding sources as quickly as possible.  Should you have further questions regarding CDBG-DR funding please email your question to .  

Please visit for more information on Vermont’s recovery efforts.

Federal Register Notice April 16, 2012


Upcoming: HOME Proposed Rule Webinar

Posted January 19, 2012

Upcoming: HOME Proposed Rule Webinar

January 24, 2012 from 1:30 to 3:30 EST

For More Information Please Visit:

HUD published a significant proposed regulation for the HOME Program in the Federal Register on December 16, 2011.  The proposed changes are intended to enhance performance and accountability, and clarify certain existing provisions.  Public comments on the proposed changes are due by February 14, 2012.

Full Information on Webinar

Section-by-section summary of the proposed changes

HUD encourages HOME Participating Jurisdictions, other program partners and stakeholders to comment on the proposed rule and raise questions for clarification through the comment process. HUD will host a webinar on the HOME Proposed Rule January 24, 2012 from 1:30 to 3:30 EST. CheckHOME’s TA site for the latest information on the webinar.

Here is the HUD webinar access information:

Install Live Meeting: You will need to install Live Meeting on the computer you will be using during the presentation. To install the software and check to ensure your system is compatible with Microsoft Office Live Meeting, go to

Logging onto Live Meeting: At least 20 minutes prior to the webinar start time, log onto the Live Meeting website by copying and pasting the meeting URL into your browser.

Call in for audio: After logging onto Live Meeting, dial into the conference call number below so that you can hear the presentation. You may dial in up to 15 minutes before the session begins.

Troubleshooting & Additional Instructions: If you have any trouble logging in and to review additional guidance on participation (including how to ask questions), please click here.




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