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Down Payment Assistance Is A Sound Investment For Vermont

Posted April 15, 2015

In recent years, the high cost of rent is putting a severe financial burden on many Vermonters. Homeownership rates are going down because many cannot afford to focus on saving to purchase a home while also paying for necessities such as rent, utilities, and in the case of many young adults, student loan debt. Given that homeownership brings many benefits to both consumers and communities, organizations like the Vermont Housing Finance Agency are working hard to ensure that would-be first time homebuyers can have access to the assistance that they need when it comes time to purchase a home. A recent report by the VHFA highlights some of the advantages that providing down payment assistance would bring to Vermonters. Below is an excerpt:

Economic pressures and demographic shifts are preventing many young Vermonters and their peers nationwide from becoming home owners. To help Vermont continue to reap the well-documented benefits that homeownership brings to individual households, their neighborhoods and the greater community, policy makers can create tools that make home buying more economically feasible. Efforts to reduce the upfront financial burden of down payment and closing costs could help retain young Vermonters who might otherwise choose to buy homes in a state with lower home prices and put homeownership within reach of would-be first time homebuyers who will otherwise continue renting.

Vermonters pay higher closing costs than the national average. The average Vermont homebuyer making a five percent down payment would need to save a whopping $19,000 for closing costs, down payment and secondary market loan fees—as much as a minimum wage worker earns in a year. Buyers who are able to obtain a mortgage requiring only a three percent down payment would still need to bring about $16,000 to the closing table.

Ho rates

To view and continue reading the entire report, click here (PDF file).


Why Aren’t Vermont Millennials Buying Homes?

Posted November 24, 2014

At last week’s Vermont Statewide Housing Conference John Pelletier of Champlain College and Anthony Poore of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston presented at a workshop titled “Homeownership’s Lost Generation.” Vermont Public Radio reported on what they had to say about why fewer of Vermont’s millennials are buying homes:

Vermonters in the millennial generation are often seen as a success story in a state that has struggled to attract and retain young people. But cultural and economic trends mean millennials in the state are still falling short on the housing market.

It’d be hard to name any one reason why young people aren’t buying homes in Vermont. Some are leaving the state, some are still too young to be expected to buy a home; others still live with their parents.

John Pelletier is the director of the Champlain College Center for Financial Literacy. He said one of the big factors is college debt.

“If you’re a college grad with student loan debt in those age categories of 29 and under, less of you own a home than if you didn’t go to college, ” he said.

And Pelletier said two-thirds of students who graduate from college in Vermont end up in debt.

“Of that two-thirds that that had student loan debt, their average debt was approximately $29,000 or just a little bit under that,” he said.

Speaking at the Vermont Statewide Housing Conference in Burlington, Pelletier and Anthony Poore of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston said it’s not just the numbers that are keeping young people from buying houses.

Poore said there were also some cultural differences between millennials and their parents.

“You know, these folks watched their parents lose their homes,” he said. “These people saw their parents have to try to figure out everything they could to stay in their homes, so they’re beginning to ask themselves, really, is homeownership really all that?”

Despite what Pelletier called the generation’s “failure to launch,” the stats show millennials still plan on owning a home at some point.

“Everybody wants a home,” he said. “So this generation has failed to launch so far, but I think fundamentally it’s a reasonable expectation that they’re going to want a home.”

The results of a recent survey from NeighborWorks America on homeownership had similar findings, with 49% of respondents who have student loan debt saying it was an obstacle when it comes to purchasing a home.


For the full article from VPR, including audio, click here. For full results of the NeighborWorks survey click here.


VHFA to offer down payment and closing cost assistance for Vermonters

Posted April 1, 2013

By Seth Leonard. Reposted from Housing Matters, March 29, 2013.

“Housing Matters is pleased to announce that beginning Monday, April 1st 2013, VHFA will offer down payment and closing assistance grants. The grants will be available through the MOVE ASSIST program and to borrowers who qualify for a VHFA first mortgage insured by USDA Rural Development or the Veterans Association.

‘These grants will enable qualified low-to-moderate income Vermonters to clear one of the most difficult barriers to buying a home – accumulating the required down payment or funds to pay closing costs’ explained Jacklyn Santerre, VHFA’s Director of Homeownership. ‘At a time when it is more difficult than ever for otherwise eligible Vermont households to save the money needed to close a mortgage loan,’ Santerre continued, ‘we see this grant as an effective stepping stone to homeownership.’

Information about VHFA mortgage programs for low-to-moderate income Vermonters is available on the VHFA website.”


Gov. Shumlin outlines administration changes

Posted January 8, 2013

Reposted from January 3rd, 2013 Press Release. Contact: Susan Allen, 802-279-8493.

On January 3, 2013, Governor Peter Shumlin issued a press release detailing upcoming changes to his administration, specifically the reestablishment of the Department of Economic Development. Furthermore, former state Representative Lucy Leriche has been named Deputy Sercretary of Commerce and Community Development. Leriche’s leadership experience as well as her background in housing development and homeownership programs is vital to Vermont’s housing recovery process, following Tropical Storm Irene.

Read excerpts from the Press Release:

“The Governor also announced that he is re-establishing the Department of Economic Development to focus exclusively on supporting Vermont businesses and recruiting new employers. That department had been rolled into Housing and Community Affairs during the previous gubernatorial administration. This change will not require additional personnel.

Commerce and Community Development Secretary Lawrence Miller said economic development is currently spearheaded by outgoing Deputy Secretary Patricia Moulton Powden. But, Miller added, that economic focus is a vital part of his agency’s mission and demands a full-time focus. Miller said he will be running the search for the new Commissioner of Economic Development (recommendations should be sent to copying

In addition, former state Rep. Lucy Leriche has been appointed Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Community Development. Leriche, of Hardwick, replaces Moulton Powden, who is leaving to take a position at the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation. Leriche has extensive experience overseeing multiple programs, including single family home programs, the Homeownership Center, housing development, rental housing operations; she also founded a not for profit organization for persons with severe and persistent mental illness.

‘I am grateful that Lucy agreed to join the administration.  Her professional experience running the Lamoille Housing Partnership is particularly valuable as we work on the long term recovery housing issues coming out of Irene’ said Gov. Shumlin. ‘The broad policy experience she gained serving in the leadership of the Vermont House represents the type of perspective we need in the cabinet as we continue to break down the silos in state government.'”


“Susan Bartlett, of Morrisville, former state Senator and chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, also joined the Shumlin administration as Special Assistant to the Governor, coordinating human services projects for the administration. She now moves to the Agency of Human Services as Special Projects Coordinator to focus on ensuring that low-income Vermonters have access to the skills and education they need to find good paying jobs. 

In addition, former Rep. Floyd Nease has been appointed Director of Systems Integration, helping coordinate family services across Vermont, reducing the paperwork for families in need of state assistance, and speeding the flow of financial aid to those who qualify. Nease has in-depth experience in human services issues, previously serving as executive director of the Vermont Association for Mental Health and Addiction Recovery, director of Laraway Youth and Family Services, and as a Vermont state representative from 2002 until his resignation in January 2011.

‘I am pleased to have both Susan and Floyd joint the AHS leadership team.  The Governor has given us the responsibility to address the benefits cliff issue, better coordinate services for children and families, reduce recidivism, and manage increasing caseloads in a difficult fiscal climate,’ Human Services Secretary Doug Racine said. ‘Floyd’s and Susan’s experiences and skills will be valuable assets as we take on all of our human services challenges.'”

Read Full Shumlin Press Release


Early registration open for NLIHC Housing Policy Conference

Posted December 27, 2012

Early registration for the National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) Housing Policy Conference & Lobby Day is now open. The conference will be held March 17-20, 2013 in Washington, D.C. Early registration, and discounted registration fee, closes January 24, 2013.

Vist conference website to learn more.

Click here to register.



In case you missed it: Providing the security of a home

Posted December 20, 2012

By Brenda Torpy, CEO of Champlain Housing Trust. Reposted from the Burlington Free Press, November 22, 2012. 

“Snow is in the air. It’s the season when we really focus on the warmth of home. It’s time to prepare the house for winter, and also the time when we look forward to the warmth of friends and family and holiday traditions.

At Champlain Housing Trust we focus year-round on providing the comfort and security of a good home for all who seek our help. That can be a first step out of homelessness or the big step of homeownership, and many options in between. Four-thousand, five-hundred people live in our 2,600 homes. Each month, 100 more apply to us for an affordable apartment and annually over 150 seek our help in fulfilling their dream of homeownership.

Accessing a home is toughest for people who are homeless and for those with special needs. By working with the region’s shelter providers, we lease apartments to families before they have established credit, income or references (standard steps to conventional renting) so that they can rebuild their lives from the strong base of a home of their own.

Social service providers working with the disabled and chronically ill also partner with us by staffing properties serving these groups. These agencies also make it possible for people with special needs to live in our conventional rentals with as-needed back-up. We’ve also created a program, Ready-Set-Rent! for the all too common problem of bad credit. Instead of turning people away we offer them a good rental if they join our credit repair program which includes ongoing budget counseling. Sixty families have reaped the benefits of this program since we launched it last year.

Most of our rentals serve working families whose just cannot afford market rent. These workers are vital to our economy and quality of life. People in healthcare, childcare, retail and service industries contribute so much to our communities and we are very proud to offer them attractive and secure homes withaffordable rents and utilities. In fact we have been greening all of our older properties with solar, up-to-date boilers and insulation so that these costs remain affordable too.

Homeownership remains a goal or dream for most people, and we have pioneered a way to make that dream a reality for many more people through our shared-equity homeownership program that has become a model nationally and internationally. In all 850 families have been boosted into homeownership through this program, and two-thirds have gone on from this to owning a home in the private market. When they sell we recycle the affordability to a new buyer. A recent national study showed that the foreclosure rate in shared-equity homes was ten times lower than in the market, even though our buyers all have modest incomes.

The security of home is essential to all of us. That means a home we can afford, where we do not fear displacement, where we are warm and safe and happy to return each day to recharge and rest. When everyone has the security of home, the entire community is stronger, safer and healthier. This is what drives Champlain Housing Trust to invent, innovate and grow.”

[Torpy lives in South Hero. She has led the organization for more than 20 years and is president of the National Community Land Trust Network and a member of the Governor’s Housing Council. Under her leadership, the Housing Trust won the United Nations World Habitat Award in 2008.]



Housing Challenges in Rural Communities

Posted December 19, 2012

Reposted from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition‘s Memo to Members, December 7, 2012.

“A new report from the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) examines the housing crisis in rural America. Despite enjoying generally lower housing costs, an increasing number of rural households struggle with poverty. Rural poverty rates exceed comparable national rates across all racial and ethnic groups. These poor households also struggle with housing affordability; the number of housing cost burdened households rose by six percentage points in rural America between 2000 and 2010…”

Read Full National Low-Income Housing Coalition Article 

Link to Report: Taking Stock, Rural People, Housing in the 21st Century 



2012 Vermont Statewide Housing Conference – register today!

Posted October 15, 2012

Vermont’s largest housing event is coming to the Hilton Burlington on Thursday, November 15!

Keynote Speaker: Xavier de Sousa Briggs, Associate Professor of Sociology & Urban Planning at MIT, former Associate Director of the Office of Management & Budget

Join colleagues from all over the state and region for Vermont’s biennial gathering of housing professionals. The conference provides a unique opportunity to meet and discuss housing advocacy, policy, financing, development and more. Thanks to the generous sponsors of this event, the cost is the same as last time, just $75. Scholarships are also available. You’ll get:

  • Plenary panel of national and regional experts
  • 18 in-depth workshops to choose from
  •  Lunch
  •  Networking opportunities throughout the day and during a special reception at 4:30
  •  Presentations by in- and out-of-state experts
  •  Free parking
  •  Access to exhibit tables by conference sponsors and others
  •  All workshop materials and attendee contact information following the event

Lead sponsor, the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, is just one of many partners who come together to plan this. Others include: Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, Housing Vermont, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, USDA-Rural Development, Vermont Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development,Vermont Home Mortgage Bankers

For additional information, please contact Maura Collins at or Erhard Mahnke at



Early-bird Registration fee for Vermont Statewide Housing Conference

Posted October 11, 2012

The early-bird registration fee for the Vermont Statewide Housing Conference ends today, Friday, October 12, 2012. Register today!

Click here to register.



Proposed Vermont Fire and Building Safety Code – 2012 Public Hearing Schedule

Posted September 14, 2012

Location: Division of Fire Safety – Rutland Regional Office

24 Howe Street – Rutland, VT

Date: Friday – September 21, 2012

Time: 1 PM


Location: Division of Fire Safety – Berlin Central Office

1311 U.S. Route 302, Suite 600 – Berlin, VT

Date: Monday – September 24, 2012

Time: 9 AM


Deadline for written comment submittal is October 1, 2012.  Written comments can be sent to Bob Patterson at Vermont Division of Fire Safety – 1311 U.S. Route 302 – Barre, VT 05641, or email to



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