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House Backs Mobile Home Safeguards

Posted March 30, 2015

VT State Legislature is currently considering a bill that would protect mobile home residents by requiring maintenance of roads and access points for emergency responders. The article below from the Waterbury Record provides more information on what this bill would do to address these safety concerns:

2011, flooding from Tropical Storm Irene destroyed more than 40 mobile homes in Whalley Park in Waterbury, flooded all 19 mobile homes at Patterson Park in Duxbury, and demolished 125 mobile homes in all across the state.

The flooding damaged a total of 16 trailer parks and led to the closure of two parks, where up to 40 mobile homes were either destroyed or damaged with no money for repair, according to the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development.

Now, state legislators are considering a bill to give more protections to mobile home residents by requiring park owners to maintain safe roads and access points for emergency responders.

The House voted 95-47, with seven abstentions, to pass a bill sponsored by Rep. William Botzow, D-Bennington; the Senate takes it up next.

“The protections advanced by the House embody the essential role of state government,” House Speaker Shap Smith, D-Morristown, said this week. “Working to ensure the health and safety of all Vermonters — rural, urban, low and moderate income — is vital to the health of our communities and state.”

The bill was introduced after legislators directed the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development to investigate problems affecting residents of the state’s 7,125 mobile home lots. Up to three-quarters of the state’s 242 mobile home parks are 40 years old or more, and many lack up-to-date septic and utility systems, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Rep. Helen Head, who chairs the House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs, applauded the bill.

“This bill creates a path for enforcement of health and safety, ensuring that ambulances and fire trucks can get in to help residents in our mobile home parks,” she said. “All Vermonters should have access to emergency services in their time of need.”

For a link to he full article, click here.

 



Groundbreaking Celebration Announced for August 12th

Posted August 4, 2014

Join Senator Patrick Leahy, the Central Vermont Community Land Trust, and Housing Vermont to celebrate the beginning of construction on South Main Apartments in Waterbury.  The groundbreaking celebration will take place Tuesday, August 12th at 11:00 am at the site of South Main Apartments (formerly Ladd Hall) on 36 State Drive in Waterbury.

South Main Apartments is a 27-unit affordable and energy efficient housing development that has received funding from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and the federal HOME program.  The redevelopment of this historic building is an important piece of Waterbury’s downtown recovery following Tropical Storm Irene.

 



Report Issued on the Viability and Disaster Resilience of Mobile Home Ownership and Parks

Posted December 19, 2013

Last week the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development issued a report with a series of recommendations to improve the disaster resilience of mobile homes and parks.  The report details many of the difficulties faced by mobile home park residents in the wake of Irene as well as ways to improve mobile home parks and protect them from future floods.  More from the news release:

Mobile homes are nearly twice as likely to be located in a flood hazard area as stick built homes and were disproportionately impacted by Tropical Storm Irene. Unfortunately, mobile home residents often lack the resources necessary to repair or replace their homes, and difficult lessons were learned about the state’s preparedness for responding to disasters affecting this housing segment.

…the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development issued a series of recommendations to improve the disaster resilience of mobile homes and parks. Its Report on the Viability and Disaster Resilience of Mobile Home Ownership and Parks also addresses longstanding challenges facing mobile home and park owners. Based on extensive research and collaboration with other agencies and stakeholders, the report suggests actions at the individual, local and statewide levels.

“With two years of disaster and recovery experience behind us, we know what makes mobile homes vulnerable and what can be done to make Vermonters who reside in them safer,” Jennifer Hollar, Deputy Commissioner of the Department, said. “Simple and complex, inexpensive and costly, individually and statewide, there are many ways to improve the resilience of this important form of affordable housing.”

The Department will work with state agencies, housing groups and others to implement the recommendations…

Some of the recommendations include:

  • Giving municipal governments the authority to prepare for future disasters;
  • Providing education and outreach to Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC’s), park owners and residents on disaster preparedness planning and strategies;
  • Looking into the availability of financing for mobile homes and alternative types of park ownership, and mobile home construction to replace older, inefficient units;
  • Using a Mobile Home Park Risk Assessment Tool enabling agencies and park owners to identify and assess the vulnerabilities of a park, allowing planning and mitigation to occur or to respond to any sale or closure notices.

Read the full report here.

See also:

VPR: Study Takes Stock of Irene’s Impact on Mobile Homes
MCV: VT Recommends Actions to Make Mobile Homes & Parks Less Vulnerable

 



Brattleboro Replaces Public Housing Damaged By Tropical Storm Irene

Posted October 1, 2013

Yesterday Vermont Public Radio had a story on the public housing being replaced in Brattleboro:

The Brattleboro Housing Authority has announced plans for fifty-five new apartments to replace public housing damaged in tropical storm Irene.

But the project faces challenges because of changes in the federal government’s approach to public housing.

The new development, called Red Clover Commons, will only partially replace the eighty units at Melrose Terrace. The complex, whose residents are elderly or disabled, had to be evacuated during the 2011 storm.

Tenants were allowed back after the damaged buildings were repaired — but only temporarily because the complex is in a flood hazard area.

Melrose Terrace was built in 1965. It’s one of five developments in Brattleboro that were built and subsidized by HUD, the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Affairs.

But Brattleboro Housing Authority  Director  Christine Hart says those days are gone.

“And now,” says Hart, “HUD really is looking to housing authorities to use other sources of funds — the low income housing tax credits, different programs that can be used with section 8.”

The Brattleboro Housing Authority is working with Housing Vermont to access those funding programs and move the project forward.

The agencies have an option on a 2.8-acre site, convenient to stores and Brattleboro Memorial Hospital.

Hart says Melrose residents are very much involved in the relocation process. They considered several locations.

“And they loved this site,” Hart says. “I can’t tell you how many people said to me, ‘This is where we need to be.’”

But Hart says the very low rents that have benefited Melrose tenants will be a challenge to sustain.

“The dilemma is that we’re taking people that have a public housing subsidy, we’re moving them to a brand new building,” says Hart. “And we need to make sure that we find a way to keep their rent the same as it has been under the public housing, because HUD is not building public housing anymore.”

The project got some good news recently. The Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development has earmarked five million dollars in expected flood disaster relief funds for the Brattleboro project.

But Red Clover Commons is expected to cost  thirteen million. And the fifty-five-unit project leaves twenty-five more Melrose residents still in need of replacement housing.

The Brattleboro Housing Authority also needs to find a new location for its own offices, which are also at Melrose Terrace.

Read the full article and listen to the original report online.  For a PDF of the article click here.

 



Mobile Home Parks Slowly Recovering From Irene, while State and Nonprofits Work to Prevent Future Disasters

Posted September 3, 2013

VTDigger has an update on some of the ongoing Irene recovery efforts taking place at many of the state’s mobile home parks:

It’s been two years since Irene, but in some of the mobile home parks that fell in its path, the tropical storm’s impression is still visible in the form of empty lots, outstanding loans and absent neighbors.

Irene damaged 17 of the state’s roughly 250 mobile home parks, flooding 218 homes and destroying 137, according to a University of Vermont study. Whalley Trailer Park in Waterbury and Green’s Trailer Park in Sharon shut down after the storm; the rest are open, though some have had to downsize — Patterson Park in Duxbury, for instance, had 19 lots before the storm but currently only four are filled…

State officials and a number of their nonprofit partners are still concerned about how they’ll fare in the event of another Irene-scale natural disaster.

According to research done by the UVM and the Department of Housing and Community Development, as of 2012, 32 percent of parks have some portion of their property in a floodplain and 12 percent of the mobile home lots in parks are located in a flood hazard area.

Several Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition members have been and are continuing to be involved in recovery efforts.  VAHC also worked closely on getting Act 137 passed by the Vermont Legislature in 2012.  As the VTDigger report states though, there is still a lot of work that remains, not only in recovering from the Irene disaster, but in preparing for the next one.

Link to Full Article on VTDigger.org

PDF of Full Article

 

 

 



FEMA approves public assistance for Brattleboro Housing Authority

Posted September 24, 2012

Press Release, vtdigger.org, September 23, 2012

“A public housing project in Brattleboro that was damaged during Tropical Storm Irene will receive federal funding for subsequent clean up and repairs as well as steps to flood proof the structures for the short term.

The Brattleboro Housing Authority’s Melrose Terrace facility will receive $290,000 through the federal Public Assistance program for the recovery work and steps to make any future flooding less costly for residents there…”

Link to Full vtdigger.org Article

PDF of Full Article

 

 



BHA going through FEMA process

Posted September 20, 2012

By: Howard Weiss-Tisman, Reformer Staff, Brattleboro Reformer, September 1, 2012. Reposted from the Brattleboro Reformer.

 

“BRATTLEBORO — The flood waters have receded, the decision has been made to move the residents out of Melrose Terrace and the process has begun to find a new location for the approximately 80 residents who now call the West Brattleboro public housing complex, “home.”

But the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, is still trying to decide if it will pay for repairs at Melrose that were a result of last year’s flooding caused by Tropical Storm Irene.

FEMA is collecting public input on its proposed mitigation plan at Melrose Terrace, and will accept comments until Sept. 12 as the slow process toward federal funding creeps forward…”

Link to Full Article

PDF of Full Article

 



The Vermont Community Development Program announces Approval of CDBG-DR Action Plan, Applications Available

Posted September 14, 2012

By: Josh Hanford, Vermont Community Development Program, September 7, 2012

The Vermont Community Development Program is “…pleased to announce that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has approved Vermont’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Action Plan.  CDBG-DR applications are now available through the Vermont Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development (DEHCD).  A total of $21.6 million in HUD CDBG-DR funding is available to help communities, businesses, organizations and individuals with long term disaster recovery.  The funding will be distributed through both a competitive grant application process and state direct allocations, as outlined in the Action Plan.”

PDF of Full Announcement

PDF of Governor Shumlin’s Press Release

 



Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Application Workshops

Posted September 5, 2012

The Vermont Community Development Program (VCDP) will be hosting three Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) application workshops.  The workshops are to assist organizations, communities, individuals, and businesses affected by last year’s floods with applying for the CDBG-DR funding.  Below are the dates, location, and times:

 

CDBG-DR Application Workshops:

 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Brandon Town Hall

1 Conant Square (US Route 7)

Brandon, Vermont

1:00PM – 4:00PM

 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Williamsville Hall

35 Dover Road

Williamsville, Vermont

12:00PM – 3:00PM

 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

St. Leo Hall

(If you are able, please bring a non-perishable canned good for their food shelf.)

109 South Main Street

Waterbury, Vermont

1:00PM – 4:00PM

 

Space is limited so register early.   To register for a workshop please contact Leslie Drown by email at Leslie.Drown@state.vt.usor via phone at 828-5211.

RSVP by September 7, 2012 for the September 12 & 13, 2012 workshops and September 14, 2012 for the September 20, 2012 workshop. 

 



Anatomy of an Eviction

Posted August 30, 2012

By: Allison Teague, The Commons, Posted: August 29, 2012

BELLOWS FALLS—Over the last two years, the Rockingham Selectboard and the Bellows Falls Village Trustees have been grappling with unsafe housing issues in the village, trying to address them through fire and safety codes.

In some cases, aging housing stock built during the boomtown days in the late 19th and early 20th centuries of this former mill town has not been properly maintained.

The problem has been made worse by absentee landlords who have been unable to maintain these older buildings.

Caught in the middle, between municipal authorities trying to enforce building codes and landlords who say they can’t afford to maintain their properties, are the tenants, many of whom are having trouble finding safe and affordable places to live.

Link to Full Article

PDF of Full Article

 



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