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House and Senate Tax Bills Will Decimate Affordable Housing in Vermont

Posted December 1, 2017

MONTPELIER, VT — The Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition (VAHC), a state leader in housing policy, research and advocacy, today issued the following statement on the tax bill recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and under consideration in the Senate:

At a time when Vermont already has a shortage of 10,866 affordable homes for extremely low income renters and the 5th highest affordability gap for renters in the country, the pending tax proposals would eliminate tax credits and financing tools that have helped create thousands of affordable apartments  in our state and made homeownership more affordable for thousands of Vermonters.

“Vermont already has an affordable housing crisis, but these bills would make it a catastrophe.  Without the tax credits and bonds that the House bill eliminates, thousands of affordable homes will not be built, and more Vermonters will be left homeless or stuck in homes they cannot afford,” said Ted Wimpey, VAHC Steering Committee Chair and Director of CVOEO’s Fair Housing Project.  “The Senate proposal is more favorable but would still substantially reduce affordable rental housing production at a time when the need is so acute.  If either of these tax bills becomes law, it will put families out on the streets and irreparably harm Vermont communities.”

Overall, Vermont could lose an estimated $15 million in housing investments every year – losses that not only directly affect Coalition members’ ability to create affordable housing for low-income and vulnerable Vermonters, but also the amount of construction and real estate activity that the state relies on to help stimulate economic development, create good-paying jobs, and improve our communities.

“We are thankful that our entire congressional delegation strongly opposes these unbelievably harmful bills and hope that they do not become law, especially those provisions that are so damaging to affordable housing,” noted VAHC Coordinator Erhard Mahnke.  “We need real tax reform that helps address our housing crisis and protects struggling low- and moderate-income people.”

THE TAX BILL PASSED BY THE HOUSE:

  • Significantly weakens the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, the nation’s largest affordable rental housing development resource. The Housing Credit is a successful public-private partnership that has become the foundation for affordable housing development across Vermont and New England. While the credit itself is retained, it would be significantly weakened due to the proposed reduction in the corporate tax. With the value of depreciation expense and interest deductions reduced, the value of the Housing Credit would drop, greatly reducing private investment in low income housing. The tax proposal contains no changes to the credit that would help address this impact.
    • The Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) estimates the state would lose $5-6 million in private investments annually as a result. Last year the Housing Credit generated $30 million in private, up-front equity for construction, acquisition and renovation of affordable housing across the state.  In recent years, the credit has helped fund an annual average of 300 rental homes.
  • Eliminates the tax exemption on Private Activity Bonds, including multifamily and homeownership housing bonds. This tax exemption allows bond-financed multifamily projects to access ‘4% Housing Credits,’ which have helped produce or preserve tens of thousands of affordable homes in New England. Developments financed with 4% Credits often serve households with extremely low incomes, and have also been used on mixed-income developments that meet demand for market rate housing.
    • 4% Housing Credits are used with tax-exempt bond financing to fund approximately 1,200 affordable rentals over the last seven years. If this provision becomes law, Vermont could lose another $6-7 million in housing investments every year and see the annual number of rental homes financed potentially cut in half.
    • Tax-exempt Mortgage Revenue Bonds finance almost half of VHFA’s safe, low-cost mortgages to first-time homebuyers and would be eliminated under the House bill.
    • Mortgage Credit Certificates would no longer be available to assist eligible home buyers.
  • Eliminates the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit, which is a vital tool in the creation and preservation of affordable housing in historic buildings. Historic Tax Credits (HTCs) have had an enormous impact on our communities, attracting developers to invest in vacant, deteriorated, and underutilized structures.  In Vermont, HTCs are primarily used to help fund affordable housing, whether in large old mixed-use buildings in downtowns, or multiple buildings in scattered site developments.  Without them, many new projects would never take place because they wouldn’t be financially feasible.  If HTC’s are eliminated, it will have a devastating impact on our ability to develop affordable housing in the places where it makes the most sense – our downtowns, where low and moderate income Vermonters are close to goods, services and supports and can spend less on transportation.
    • In 2017, $1.8 million in HTCs leveraged $11.8 million in total investments to help fund 65 homes in redeveloped buildings in Bennington, Brattleboro, Burlington, Fair Haven, Montpelier and Stowe.
    • From 2012 – 2017, $24 million in HTCs helped fund 643 homes in 68 projects, serving 25 Vermont communities and generating $145 million in total private investment.
  • Eliminates the New Markets Tax Credit, a key resource for community revitalization efforts in economically distressed areas. Housing and community development investments work together in revitalizing neighborhoods and improving local economies.  Neither investment can do it alone.
    • Housing Vermont’s tax credit program has used over $123 million in financing for 15 projects that invest in the economic, environmental, and social well-being of Vermont communities.
    • The many projects financed include the Enosburg Health Center, the Brooks House and Commonwealth Dairy in Brattleboro, Barre’s City Place, and Burlington’s King Street Youth Center.
  • Reforms the Mortgage Interest Deduction, which has been a long-standing priority for housing advocates and would ordinarily be a major step in the right direction. Unfortunately, instead of using the savings from this reform to better target spending on housing solutions for those with the greatest needs, the House bill funnels these and other savings to pay for highly regressive tax cuts for the richest households and corporations.
  • Increases the federal debt by $1.5 trillion over a decade, a move likely to lead to deep spending cuts to affordable housing and community development, not to mention Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Unfunded tax cuts will only add pressure on Congress to enact massive budget cuts at the expense of millions of families who benefit from federal investments that help them meet basic needs.
  • Threatens to dramatically reduce charitable giving, which will have an enormous impact on all nonprofits, including Coalition members who develop affordable housing and provide a broad array of services to low-income Vermonters and those with special needs. According to Urban Institute estimates, Vermonters’ pro-rata loss in charitable gift deductions could be as much as $136 million.  Community organizations like the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS), which rely heavily on individual and business contributions, could immediately feel the impact of a tax bill that no longer incentivizes middle income Americans to contribute locally.

THE SENATE TAX PROPOSAL:

  • Is more favorable to affordable housing than the House bill, because it preserves Private Activity Bonds, retains both the New Market and Historic Preservation Tax Credits, and adds a number of no-cost enhancements to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit. Nonetheless, its impact on the equity raised by the Housing Credit is the same as the House bill, so it would still severely reduce affordable rental housing production at a time when Vermont and most of the nation continue to be gripped by an acute affordable housing crisis.  National tax experts Novogradac & Co. estimate that, over ten years, the Senate tax bill – which is still undergoing changes – would reduce the future supply of affordable rental housing by nearly 300,000 homes nationally and that Vermont could lose:
    • 650 rental homes,
    • 740 jobs,
    • $62,089,000 in business income, and
    • $23,881,000 million in federal, state and local taxes. 

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The Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition is a statewide membership organization dedicated to ensuring that all Vermonters have decent, safe and affordable housing, particularly the state’s low and moderate-income residents, elders, people living with homelessness, and people with disabilities.
For more information, visit www.vtaffordablehousing.org.

 

 



CURRENT HOUSING JOB OPENINGS

Posted October 31, 2017

VT Housing & Conservation Board
Manager of Federal Housing Programs
A s a member of the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB) housing team, the Manager of Federal Housing Programs is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day administration of the HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME), the National Housing Trust Fund (HTF), Housing for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA), and any other federal housing related programs, and for applications for continued funding for those programs. He/she leads the process for the development of annual allocation plans, all federal reporting, monitoring of recipients of federal awards, and ensuring that all awards are made and records are kept in compliance with all relevant federal rules and regulations. The Manager acts as a liaison between VHCB and federal housing funders. This position supervises the Federal Housing Programs Coordinator and Assistant positions.

Qualifications: The Manager of Federal Housing Programs should be familiar with federal housing policy and regulations as well as an understanding of the role of non-profits in an affordable housing delivery system. Experience working with non-profit organizations, state and federal agencies, and federally funded housing programs is important. Other qualifications include experience supervising staff and building and maintaining relationships with state and federal partners; experience managing a database and strong spreadsheet skills; writing and communication skills, ability to meet deadlines, attention to details, and the ability to be flexible and innovative, as appropriate. Familiarity with the principles of affordable housing finance a plus.

Comprehensive benefit package included.  Position requires occasional travel. Equal Opportunity Employer. Read the job description.

To Apply: Email letter of interest and resume to Laurie Graves, laurie@vhcb.org, by November 8, 2017.


VT State Housing Authority
Section 8 Field Representative

Vermont State Housing Authority (VSHA) needs a professional individual to handle all field operations for Section 8/McKinney funded housing rental programs in Rutland County. Work with clients, landlords, community organizations; mediate issues; administer & enforce contracts with property owners; perform annual reexaminations of tenants & inspections of units under the program. Individual will be home-based & must reside in Rutland County. Extensive driving required. Cover letter and resume to: HR, VSHA, 1 Prospect St., Montpelier, VT 05602-3556. VSHA is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Full Job Description (pdf).


VT Housing Finance Agency
Development Underwriter

The Development Underwriter is responsible for comprehensive analysis of prospective multifamily housing and single family developments being considered for VHFA financing, tax credits, and other financing and special initiatives; underwrites Housing Credit applications and assists in the development of loan and Housing Credit policies and procedures and the administration of Federal and State Housing Credit Programs; assists the Director of Development in the administration of Development programs; serves as a high level resource for pertinent research and training of federal regulations, VHFA statutory requirements, and Multifamily rules and underwriting guidelines. The position will remain open until filled. Learn more about this position on the VHFA website.

 



Job Posting – Chittenden Homeless Alliance Coordinator – VHFA

Posted February 6, 2017

As primary staff member of the Chittenden County Homeless Alliance, supports the administrative work under the direction of the Steering Committee.

SPECIFIC RESPONSIBLITIES:

  • Work as staff to and under the direction of its Steering Committee. This includes managing meeting schedules, agenda and minutes.
  • Establish a process for distribution and retention of Alliance documents.
  • Develop strong working relationships with members and partners of the Alliance.
  • Attend all Alliance meetings, including but not limited to the Steering Committee, Coordinated Entry, Strategic Planning, and NOFA Committee.
  • Take minutes in consistent format and distribute appropriately.
  • Research information for the committees, as requested.
  • Support quarterly meeting, including attendance, publicity, location, set up and refreshments.
  • Responsible for maintaining the Alliance’s web presence and mailing lists, including email.
  • Orientate new members of the Alliance. Establish a consistent process and content for such.
  • Create and manage electronic Google documents.
  • Other duties as assigned.

See full job description and contact information.

 



VHFA Awards Millions In Tax Credits For Affordable Housing:

Posted April 22, 2016

On Monday, April 18, the Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) Board of Commissioners committed federal low-income housing tax credits and state affordable housing tax credits that will provide almost $25 million in upfront equity to construct and renovate housing for low-income Vermonters and will increase permanent supportive housing for people who were formerly homeless. The $2.578 million in 10 year federal credits and $400,000 in five year state credits support 356 rental homes in 11 communities across the state.

“This year VHFA recognized the urgent need among our most vulnerable neighbors – the homeless – and we revised the state’s qualified allocation plan (QAP) which governs the allocation of these tax credits to give priority to applications that create permanent supportive housing,” explained Sarah Carpenter, Executive Director of VHFA. “One quarter of the federal housing credits will fund 31 units dedicated to people who were formerly homeless. It is clear that this policy change has been successful in helping to create permanent homes for Vermonters who are homeless,” she continued. “Unfortunately we were not able to fund four projects that could have provided an additional 157 affordable housing units.”

The investments made by VHFA today will add new homes to the market in Burlington, White River Junction, and Montpelier. They will also totally renovate and secure the long-term affordability of existing housing in Rutland, Marshfield, Bennington, Shaftsbury and Arlington. All of the units utilize green building and design standards, and will be highly energy efficient.

In Rutland, the third and final phase of redeveloping the former Forest Park federal public housing complex, now called Hickory Street, will redevelop 22 apartments for low income Vermonters spread over three newly constructed buildings. The project will be developed by the Rutland Housing Authority and Housing Vermont.

On Burlington’s North Avenue, Phase 1 of a large scale project will create 31 apartments for low income Vermonters and five additional market rate units. Champlain Housing Trust, Housing Vermont, and Farrell Real Estate will partner in this effort.

In downtown White River Junction, a building with 16 units for low income Vermonters will be constructed. The mixed-use project called Bridge and Main will also create one market rate rental apartment and ground level commercial rental space. The development was proposed by Bill Bittinger and Associates.

The historic French Block building in downtown Montpelier will be redeveloped to include 14 apartments for low income Vermont renters and 4 market rate apartments. The development is sponsored by a partnership between Downstreet Housing and Community Development and Housing Vermont.

The Hollister Hill project is a complete redevelopment of 16 existing apartments on 6.6 acres near the center of Plainfield although it’s technically in Marshfield. All the units have rental assistance and will be affordable to extremely low income Vermonters according to the owner, Housing Foundation Inc.

Finally, 22 units were funded to redevelop and preserve the affordability of two existing projects in Bennington county. The new project, called Battenkill North, is a scattered site project with units in Bennington, Shaftsbury and Arlington. The project will be developed as a partnership between Shires Housing and Housing Vermont.

At the same meeting VHFA’s Board of Commissioners also awarded the annual amount of Vermont State Housing Tax Credits available for multifamily rental developments. One of those projects, Hickory Street phase three in Rutland, also received federal housing credits described above. The other projects receiving state housing credits were all acquisition/rehabilitation efforts:

· The Briars, 24 units in Wilder by Twin Pines Housing Trust;

· Colonial Village, 21 units in Bradford by Downstreet Housing;

· Applegate, 104 units in Bennington by Housing Vermont;

· South Meadow, 64 units in Burlington by Champlain Housing Trust and Housing Vermont; and

· Sugarwood, 12 units in Middlebury by Green Mountain Development Corp.

In addition to the equity created by the allocation of these housing credits, other funding sources needed for these projects include the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the federal HOME program, Affordable Housing Program, local Housing Trust Funds, NeighborWorks, the Vermont Community Development Program, Efficiency Vermont and Downtown Rehabilitation Tax Credits.

The Vermont Legislature created VHFA in 1974 to finance and promote affordable housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income Vermonters. Since its inception, the Agency has helped approximately 28,000 Vermont households with affordable mortgages and financed the development of approximately 8,600 affordable, safe and decent rental units.

For a link to this press release, click here.

 



VHFA Seeks To Extend Assistance For First-Time Home Buyers

Posted February 3, 2016

The Vermont Housing Finance Agency is seeking to extend their down-payment assistance program, which began last August. Through this program, first-time home buyers can get up to $5,000 in down payment assistance. The zero-interest loan is then paid back when the home is sold or the mortgage is refinanced. While the program is currently funded for 3 years, an extension of the program would help build a revolving loan fund. To learn more, read the article from VPR below:

The Vermont Housing Finance Agency says a down-payment assistance program is meeting its goal of helping first-time homebuyers purchase houses, and they’d like the program extended.

“We started at the end of August, really early September getting it fully funded and ready to go. So far we’ve closed about 60 loans. We had actually projected somewhere around the 110 mark, but I think we’re going to exceed that by the end of June,” says Executive Director Sarah Carpenter.

The legislature funded the program for three years, and Carpenter would like additional funding to continue the program for five years so it could become a revolving loan fund.

“Our main concern is we won’t start getting loan paybacks until after the fifth year, and so we have this dilemma that after the third year, we may have no proceeds to re-lend to people, or very little,” Carpenter said. “We’re just trying to have it be in sync with the average life of a loan, which is five to seven years.”

First-time homebuyers can get up to $5,000 in down payment assistance. The zero-interest loan is re-paid when the home is sold or the mortgage is re-financed.

VHFA has been closely tracking data from the program. The average first-time homebuyer is 31 years old with a household income of $61,000. The average home purchase price is $156,840, with $4,500 in down payment assistance. Of the 60 loans that have closed so far, 14 percent of the homebuyers have purchased condominiums.

Vermonters who make up to $100,000 per year qualify for the VHFA program.

For a link to the article, click here.

 



VAHC TV: VHFA Down Payment Assistance Program

Posted October 9, 2015

Host Erhard Mahnke speaks with Executive Director of Vermont Housing Finance Agency, Sarah Carpenter, on VHFA’s new Down Payment Assistance Program for first time homebuyers. More information on this can be found at www.vhfa.org. To watch the program, view the embedded link below or click here. You can also view the program on-air on Monday October 12, 19, and 26 at 3:00pm on Channel 17/Town Meeting TV.

 



Down Payment Assistance Offered For First Time Homebuyers In Vermont

Posted September 22, 2015

On Friday Governor Shumlin joined VHFA and other state and community leaders to launch a new down payment assistance program for first time homebuyers. Through this program each qualified buyer will receive up to $5,000 for down payment and closing costs. VHFA will be able to provide first-time home buyers who use a VHFA mortgage with up to $5,000 that needs repayment only if the home is sold or refinanced. Below is a report from WAMC, which includes some words from VAHC coordinator Erhard Mahnke, with more information on the program and how it will help Vermonters:

With Vermont homebuyers paying higher closing costs than the national average, the Vermont Housing Finance Agency is launching a new down payment assistance program this week.

The Vermont Housing Finance Agency, or VHFA, cites Bankrate.com data showing that closing costs in the state rose 5.7 percent in 2013. A Vermonter faces an average $19,000 in closing costs on a 5 percent down payment or $16,000 with 3 percent. That’s the annual salary of a minimum wage worker. Erhard Mahnke is the coordinator of the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition. “The median sale price last year for a home in Vermont was just under $200,000, about $193,000. That would require an annual income of about $57,000 a year to afford that and it would require just under $16,000 cash at closing. $16,000 is hard for a young family to save that’s saddled with student debt; that’s renting in our market. It makes home ownership almost impossible without some kind of down payment assistance to help get folks into home ownership.”

The Housing Tax Credit program was approved by the state legislature earlier this year. It allows the VHFA to sell tax credits to investors to fund the program. The VHFA then helps first-time homebuyers with down payments. Eligible borrowers will be able to get a zero-percent deferred loan up to $5,000 according to Executive Director Sarah Carpenter. “We increasingly are seeing home buyers being required to come to the table with increased closing costs and fees. Vermont is one of the higher states with our closing costs. They can be upwards of $9,000 in addition to whatever down payment, you know 3 percent, 5 percent. So that’s a lot of cash up front for borrowers. And particularly in the Champlain Valley this tight rental market, it’s difficult for young families to save what they need for the down payment and pay the market rents that are being required. We also know that many of our target borrowers have student debt. So we hope that this program will help those first time borrowers.”

Mahnke believes that as the VHFA helps the first-time homebuyers, the program will also help loosen the state’s tight rental market. “I’m not a firm believer in the trickle down theory of housing. But if you move a hundred households out of the rental market into home buying that will help. Every little bit helps. Our rental markets are so constrained and that 1 percent vacancy rate makes supply and demand be so out of whack that it drives up rent, it drives up costs while Vermonters wages remain relatively flat. We have such challenges in our rental markets around Vermont that every little bit helps.”

Republican Senator Kevin Mullin is Chair of the Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs Committee. He notes that the enabling legislation for the program was part of a larger economic development bill. “What we heard is one of the impediments to filling unfilled positions at Vermont employers with young professionals is the fact that it’s so expensive to live in Vermont as far as housing and especially to try to own your own home. We know that once somebody makes an investment and buys their own home they’re more likely to stay in Vermont. So it was an important piece of the economic development bill that we have something that helped to help people purchase their own house and be able to stay in Vermont. And one of the impediments was the high costs of closing so we put in the first time homebuyers tax credit.”

VHFA expects to have about $600,000 available for the fiscal year that ends June 30th. The program is limited to first-time homebuyers.

For the full report, including audio, click here. For more coverage see the links below:

WCAX – Help for First Time Vermont Homebuyers
My Champlain Valley FOX44 & ABC22 – VHFA Launches Down Payment Assistance for First Time Home Buyers
Rutland Herald – Home Buying Help Is On the Way
Burlington Free Press – First Time Homebuyers Get a Boost

 



Joint Committee on Tax Credits Meeting – Wednesday, August 19

Posted August 17, 2015

The Joint Committee on Tax Credits will hold a meeting to discuss potential changes to Vermont’s Qualified Action Plan. This meeting is open to the public.

As administrator of the Housing Tax Credit program, VHFA allocates credits to specific projects in accordance with Vermont’s Qualified Allocation Plan, which is approved and signed by the Governor. The advisory Joint Committee on Tax Credits reviews and adopts allocation policies and reviews VHFA’s performance.

Where: VHFA Board Room, 164 St. Paul Street, Burlington
When: Wednesday, August 19, 2015 – 10:00am to 12:00pm

 



First-Time Homebuyers Eligible For $5,000 In Down Payment Assistance

Posted June 12, 2015

Earlier this week, Sarah Carpenter of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency discussed their new program that will provide down-payment assistance to first time homebuyers on VPR:

First-time home buyers in Vermont are getting some help with the expenses that come with buying a house. Legislation signed by Gov. Peter Shumlin last week includes up to $5,000 for closing costs and down payments.

That program will be administered by the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, but VHFA doesn’t directly lend money to homebuyers. Instead, they work with participating lenders like credit unions and community banks. “They’ll go into one of those institutions, be qualified for one of the VHFA programs and it would be there that they’ll get the down-payment assistance”, said VHFA executive director Sarah Carpenter. The down payment assistance money will be paid back as a zero interest loan when the home is sold or refinanced.

Low and moderate income Vermonters who make up to $100,000 qualify for the VHFA programs. “We understand that many working families are in that range searching for a home,” Carpenter said.

“What we’re seeing these days is just an increase in closing cost fees, down payment requirements and for a lot of home buyers, especially young families, saving that cash is very difficult. They’ve got student loans to pay, they’re paying high rents, so it’s a real sort of cash flow problem, getting the cash up front to buy that first home is very problematic,” Carpenter said, adding that VHFA sees many eligible homebuyers still renting apartments.

For the full report, including audio, click here.

 



Governor Approves New VHFA Down Payment Assistance Program

Posted June 5, 2015

On Wednesday, Governor Shumlin signed a new bill that includes a down payment assistance program through the Vermont Housing Finance Agency for first-time home buyers. This bill was one of the VAHC’s legislative priorities, an effort that was successful at a time when the state faced many fiscal challenges. Below is VHFA’s press release on the event:

Governor Shumlin signed legislation today that will help Vermonters buying their first home through VHFA by providing up to $5,000 for qualified buyers to cover the costs typically faced at closing due to down payment and closing costs.

The new down payment assistance program is part of a larger economic development bill, passed by the Vermont Legislature in the final days of the session. The program will be available through VHFA’s network of participating lenders late this summer.

“Businesses across Vermont have told us that housing costs are unaffordable and they need more tools to help attract and retain workers, especially young professionals,” explained Executive Director Sarah Carpenter. “In addition to helping Vermonters achieve their home purchase goals, a down payment assistance program for Vermont will help spur real estate market activity statewide.”

The Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce supported this legislation. “Saving up enough of a down payment can be a real barrier for first time buyers and we are hopeful that this program can help support our state’s workforce,” said Katie Taylor, LCRCC’s Government Affairs Specialist.

The program’s success will draw largely on VHFA’s unique, dual role serving Vermont home buyers and overseeing the state’s housing tax credit program. By selling $125,000 in Vermont State Housing Credits each year, VHFA expects to generate enough funding to provide down payment assistance to approximately 100 first-time home buyers each year for the next three years. Eventually when these homeowners sell their homes or refinance their mortgages, they will be required to repay their down payment assistance with 0% interest, creating a loan fund to be used for down payment assistance to more home buyers.

This program was authorized by S.138, An act relating to promoting economic development. The bill received overwhelming support by both the House and Senate, and was signed into law by the Governor at a signing ceremony today at Cabot Hosiery in Northfield. VHFA is currently working to create this program and expects it will be available to buyers by the end of this summer. Program information will be posted on VHFA’s website (www.vhfa.org) and a formal announcement will be made once the program is launched.

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To view the Governor’s press release, click here. To read the Times Argus coverage of the event click here.

 



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