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Affordable Rental Housing Still Elusive For Extremely Low-Income Vermonters

Posted August 27, 2014

A new report published in the National Low Income Housing Coalition‘s Housing Spotlight shows just how difficult it is for Vermont’s lowest income renters to find housing that is affordable to them in the current rental market. The report, Housing Spotlight: The Affordable Rental Housing Gap Persists, shows that there were just 39 rental homes affordable and available for every 100 extremely low income households in Vermont in 2012, the last year for which data was available. Extremely low income households have incomes at or below 30% of area median income (approximately $21,000 a year). Statewide, there is a need for 9,203 more rental homes to close the affordable rental housing gap for extremely low-income renters.

With such a limited supply of affordable rental homes available to Vermonters, 63% of extremely low-income renters end up spending more than half of their limited income on rent and utility costs.

For the first time, this edition of Housing Spotlight also highlights how it is nearly impossible for Vermonters with incomes at or below 15% of area median income to find housing that they can afford. These renters are considered deeply low-income and are most often elderly or disabled households living on fixed incomes, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI). There were just 11 affordable and available apartments for every 100 Vermont renter households in this income group, and 82% of these renters spent more than half of their income on housing costs.  The graphic below shows how those with deeply low-income are affected in each state of the U.S., with no state having more than 34 homes that are affordable and available for these renters.


It has always been difficult for lower income households to find affordable homes, and today it is harder than ever because renting has become an increasingly common choice among higher income households since the housing crisis. Nationally, the number of renters with income greater than 120% of area median income increased by 1.2 million between 2009 and 2012, transforming the rental market by putting upward pressure on rents.

In a joint press release sent out this morning, VAHC coordinator Erhard Mahnke stated:

“Given the numbers in this report, it is no wonder we have a serious and growing problem with homelessness in Vermont. If we truly want to prevent, and even end homelessness, we need to get serious about addressing the huge gap between our need for affordable housing and what’s available and affordable to Vermont’s lowest income, most vulnerable households.”

This is a problem that can be solved through greater public investment in our stock of affordable housing at both the federal and state levels. By funding the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF), Vermont would receive at least $3 million a year, which would stimulate the production of new affordable homes for Vermont’s lowest income residents and create quality jobs in the construction industry. By fully funding the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB), the state would further increase its investments in much needed new housing and the Vermont economy, while helping to offset the federal cutbacks of the last several years.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that assures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes. For more information on the National Low Income Housing Coalition, visit their website here.


ICYMI: Burned Out – Vermont’s Apartment Fires

Posted August 27, 2013

The other week Vermont Public Radio ran a series of reports concerning issues surrounding apartment building fire regulations.  Ensuring apartments meet basic requirements for health and safety is a priority of the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition.  In particular, VAHC has a long history of working on issues concerning fire safety.  Check out the reports below as VPR looks at the regulations, reconstruction and the people affected by apartment fires in Vermont.



Rutland Herald: Vote on town rental registry set

Posted July 22, 2013

Reposted from the Rutland Herald, July 18, 2013.

“SPRINGFIELD — Officials in Springfield are considering an ordinance that would set up a rental registry for property owners looking to occupy town buildings.

Residents are scheduled to vote on the proposal Aug. 20, which would require property owners to get a certificate of occupancy from the local zoning office and a passing grade from the health officer for the buildings.

Opponents say it adds unnecessary paperwork to property owners looking to rent units. Advocates call the ordinance an upgrade in enforcement for authorities to categorize all properties up for lease in Springfield.

The Eagle-Times reported that a public hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 19 at the Springfield High School cafeteria.”

Link to Rutland Herald Article 


Profile of current Housing Credit residents

Posted July 18, 2013

By Maura Collins. Reposted from Housing Matters, July 18, 2013.

A recent study of current residents of housing financed through federal and state Housing Credits shows deep income targeting, where residents earn an average of 33 percent of the area’s median income. This is far below the income levels the program is designed to serve, which is typically those earning 50 or 60% of the area’s median. The average household income of tax credit residents is $18,400, and half of residents are considered “extremely low income.”

The federal Housing Credit program, called the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, and its much smaller state counterpart, is currently housing 9,273 Vermonters in 5,271 units. 40 percent of tax credit units are headed by an elderly household, but 27% all 9,273 residents in tax credit housing are children. Tax credit residents are more racially diverse than Vermont’s typical renters, and pay less for their housing. 61 percent of residents receive some sort of subsidy, on top of the lowered rent charged in tax credit units, to help keep their unit affordable.

More details can be found in this summary report, created by Maura Collins, VHFA’s Policy and Planning Manager.

Link to article on VHFA’s Housing Matters blog


Rental Registry ordinance proposed in Springfield

Posted March 27, 2013

By Susan Smallheer. Reposted from The Barre Montpelier Times Argus, March 27, 2013.

SPRINGFIELD — Apartment owners will have to register with the town, if a new ordinance, which had its first review Monday night, goes through.

The proposed “rental registry ordinance” is designed to give Springfield fire officials a better idea of how many people live at a specific address, Town Manager Robert Forguites said during Monday’s first reading.

The ordinance, which was first discussed last year in the wake of a violent shooting in downtown Springfield, would require people to register their apartments, or face fines. The registration would then trigger an inspection by local and state fire safety officials and require a ‘certificate of fitness…'”

Link to Full Times Argus Article 

View PDF of Full Times Argus Article


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: NLIHC report focuses on affordable housing shortage

Posted March 14, 2013

National Low Income Housing Coalition, February 2013.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s (NLIHC) report, Housing Spotlight: America’s Affordable Housing Shortage, and How to End It, explores the growing gap between low-income renters and affordable and available rental homes.

VIew PDF of America’s Affordable Housing Shortage, and How to End It


HUD Reports Record Increase in Housing Unaffordability for Low Income Renters

Posted February 26, 2013

By Amy Clark, NLIHC. From the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Press Release, February 25, 2013.

Low income renters in the United States are experiencing record rates of unaffordable housing costs, according to a new report from HUD. The report, Worst Case Housing Needs 2011, shows 8.48 million renter households experiencing ‘worst case housing needs,’ a 19% increase since 2009 and a 43.5% increase since 2007.

Worst case housing needs are experienced by very low income renters who pay more than half of their income for housing or living in severely inadequate housing conditions or both…”

View PDF of Full Press Release


CCTV Airtime Notification: Housing Related Legislative Issues

Posted January 22, 2013

On January 17, 2013 Ted Wimpey, Director of the Coordinated Housing Statewide Services division of CVOEO hosted Housing: Safe, Fair, Affordable, a CCTV program highlighting 2013-14 Legislative Housing Issues. The program featured Erhard Mahnke, Director of the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, who discussed this year’s legislative priorities while focusing on statewide budget planning for affordable housing, homeless shelters, and prevention measures to keep people from becoming homeless.

Click HERE to visit the CCTV site and for more information on this program.

Tune in for future airings of this program:

  • Friday, January 25, 3:30 PM
  • Saturday January 26, 4:30 PM
  • Monday January 28, 3:00 PM
  • Sunday February 3, 3:30 PM
  • Monday February 4, 3:00 PM
  • Saturday February 9, 6:00 PM



New Report: Housing + Transportation Costs Outpacing Incomes Nationwide

Posted October 23, 2012

From the report, Losing Ground: The Struggle of Moderate-Income Households to Afford the Rising Costs of Housing and Transportation by the Center for Housing Policy & the Center for Neighborhood Technology, October 2012.

“The combined costs of housing and transportation in the nation’s largest 25 metro areas have swelled by 44 percent since 2000 while incomes have failed to keep pace, according to a new report from the Center for Housing Policy-the research affiliate of the National Housing Conference-and the Center for Neighborhood Technology. The report, Losing Ground: The Struggle of Moderate-Income Households to Afford the Rising Costs of Housing and Transportation, details the challenges that American households face as the combined costs of housing and transportation consume an ever-larger share of household incomes…”

PDF of Full Report


VT Supreme Court rules in favor of Willowbrook Apartment tenants

Posted October 15, 2012

Tenants of Willowbrook Apartments, a public housing complex in Bennington, were charged with open-window fees and maintenance bills and faced eviction as a result. A Supreme Court of Vermont ruling states, that because the tenants were not directly informed of their right to grieve the eviction, and because the open-window fees were extreme, they cannot be evicted on these grounds.

Read two different accounts of the process and the Vermont Supreme Court decision:

Rutland Herald: Vermont Supreme Court rules against housing authority policies

SCOV Law Blog: Housing authority takes the heat



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