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Affordable Housing Coalition and Coalition to End Homelessness Hold Join Annual Meeting

Posted September 28, 2016

The Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition and the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness held their annual joint meeting on September 20, 2016 at the Old Labor Hall in Barre, VT. The Coalitions were honored to have both gubernatorial candidates on hand to offer their own remarks about the state of Affordable Housing in Vermont and their respective plans to ameliorate the problems facing homelessness and affordable housing in our state. Congressional staff were also in attendance to report on what Sens. Leahy and Sanders and Congressman Welch have been doing in Washington to support housing and homelessness needs in Vermont. You can watch the full meeting by viewing the video below.

 



SAVE THE DATE – Sept 20 Annual Meeting

Posted August 30, 2016

Joint Meeting of Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition &
Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness,
Annual VAHC Meeting &
Monthly VCEH Meeting

 

Dear Coalition Members and Friends,

The VAHC’s annual joint meeting with the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness (VCEH), our own Annual Meeting, and the VCEH’s monthly meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 20 from 9:30 – 2:30 at a location TBD, probably in Randolph or Central Vermont.

The agenda is still being finalized, but we have confirmed gubernatorial candidates Sue Minter and Lt. Governor Phil Scott.

The joint meeting will conclude with a networking lunch, followed by the VAHC Annual Meeting and the VCEH monthly meeting.  Here is the overall agenda for the day:

  •  9:30-12:00   VAHC & VCEH Joint Meeting
    • 9:45 – Sue Minter (confirmed)
    • 10:30 – Phil Scott (confirmed)
  • 12:00-1:00     Networking Lunch
  •  1:00-2:30      VAHC Annual Meeting & VCEH Monthly Meeting

We’ll send out the full, detailed agenda, location and background materials as soon as they are finalized.

Hope to see you on the 20th!

 



Governor Shumlin Announces $2.9 Million in Community Development Grants

Posted March 10, 2016

Brownfield clean-up and re-development in Richmond and Montpelier, and energy efficient affordable housing in Bennington and Hardwick, are among the eight projects receiving more than $2.9 million in grants from the Vermont Community Development Program announced today.

“From Waitsfield to Wheelock, communities across Vermont will use these grants to build affordable housing, clean-up contaminated sites for re-development, expand services to their residents, restore historic buildings, and make their communities more resilient”, said Gov. Peter Shumlin.

“We are excited to support this array of community projects, and thank all the people and organizations working hard every day to improve the lives of Vermonters and the communities we call home’, commented Patricia Moulton, Secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development.

“While targeted to the needs of lower income Vermonters, Community Development Block Grants address the needs of communities and represent a true partnership between the federal, state and local government,” said Department of Housing and Community Development, Deputy Commissioner Josh Hanford. The projects include expanding childcare, parenting classes and family support services in Rutland, creating and improving affordable housing in Bennington and Hardwick, and assisting with flood recovery in Hancock, Montpelier and Waitsfield.

Vermont’s congressional delegation has been steadfast in supporting the funding that makes the program possible. In a joint statement, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said: “At its core, this program is about transforming communities by creating opportunities for Vermonters. These projects mean new homes for our neighbors, more childcare for children and working families, and reinvigorated downtowns. They will play diverse and critical roles in our communities, from improving flood mitigation to ensuring town offices are ADA accessible. These federal investments will empower Vermonters to offer a much-needed helping hand to community members who need it most, and we congratulate each of the recipients.”

The state awards approximately $7 million annually in competitive grants through the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development. The grants are funded through the federal Community Development Block Grant Program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
For information about the Vermont Community Development Program, please see the Agency of Commerce and Community Development website at: http://accd.vermont.gov/strong_communities/opportunities/funding/vcdp

$350,000 Town of Bennington – Deferred loan to Applegate Housing Limited Partnership to rehabilitate a 104-unit mixed-income property. 93 units will be available to households at or below 80% of Area Median Income. Proposed improvements to the property include repairs to water and sewer lines, accessibility and code upgrades, new roofs, siding, windows, and insulation, as well as converting the existing heating oil system to a bio-mass heating system.

$358,250 Town of Hancock – Grant to assist in replacing an undersized culvert, on Churchville Road, causing damage and road closures during high-water, with a larger bridge structure capable of passing a 100-year storm event.

$300,000 Town of Hardwick – Subgrant to the Lamoille Housing Partnership to purchase and install 13 new, energy efficient modular-built homes on vacant lots at the Evergreen Manor Mobile Home Park in Hardwick. All homes will be affordable to families earning less than 80% of Area Median Income.

$850,000 City of Montpelier – Grant to repair and rebuild the historic granite block retaining wall, at 1 Taylor Street, damaged by flooding in 2011. The project will also remove and dispose of contaminated soils, allowing the long planned multimodal transportation center and bike/pedestrian path project to proceed.

$500,000 Town of Richmond – Subgrant to Buttermilk, LLC to demolish four derelict buildings and remediate the former Richmond Creamery property. The brownfield site requires extensive cleanup due to the following sources of contamination: asbestos, lead paint, mold, ammonia, PCB’s, PAH’s, and metals. The redevelopment plan involves a net zero mixed-use development with office space, housing, public services, and retail space.

$257,000 City of Rutland – Subgrant to Rutland County Parent Child Center (RCPCC) to complete Phase III of a five-year strategic plan to rehabilitate a building that has been unoccupied for 20 years. The project will serve an estimated 1,610 persons, all with income less than 50% of Area Median Income. The building will be used to expand RCPCC’s programs, including parenting classes for the community and a larger space for their Learning Together program, focused on pregnant and parenting youth who are working toward their high school diploma. The rehabilitation will involve roof work, improvements to the HVAC system, new windows, doors, floors, and painting.

$264,182 Waitsfield Village Meeting House – Grant to assist the Waitsfield Village Meeting House flood proof the building and construct life safety and ADA/accessibility improvements. The project will include stabilizing and flood proofing the basement and moving all mechanical and electrical system components out of the basement to locations more than 2 feet above a 100-year flood.

$30,000 Town of Wheelock – Grant to hire professional consultants to complete the planning and construction documents for the redesign and renovation of the Town Hall/offices to be ADA compliant.

For a link to this press release, click here.

 



VHCB Commits $3.953 Million to Create and Rehabilitate 220 Homes in 8 Towns

Posted February 29, 2016

On Thursday, February 4, the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board committed $3,953,500 to develop, rehabilitate and preserve 218 affordable homes in settings ranging from shared elderly housing in Rochester, to new construction in White River Junction, redevelopment of deteriorated public housing in Rutland, energy retrofit and rehabilitation of apartments in Bennington, Bradford, and Wilder, and mobile home parks in Hardwick and Ludlow. The VHCB commitments of state funding will leverage $32.6 million in other public and private funds.

VHCB Executive Director Gus Seelig said, “These investments will create 57 new, energy efficient homes in tight rental markets and rehabilitate and increase the energy efficiency of 163 apartments, renewing valuable housing resources for low- and moderate-income Vermonters. In addition to improving quality of life for renters and homeowners, these developments employ construction workers, excavators, plumbers, electricians, architects, engineers, and landscapers in communities around the state.”

White River Junction – Highly energy efficient apartments will be constructed at the intersection of Bridge and Main Streets in a downtown lot that has been vacant since 2005 following a fire. Railroad Row LLC, a private development corporation, will receive $500,000 in federal HOME funds awarded by VHCB to subsidize seventeen apartments. Project-based rental assistance provided by the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program through the Vermont State Housing Authority will make the apartments affordable to very low-income residents. The pedestrian-friendly site is in close proximity to public transportation options, shopping, services, and the Veterans Administration Medical Center. There is a high demand for housing in the White River Junction area, where the vacancy rate hovers at 1%.

Bennington – Housing Vermont and Shires Housing will complete rehabilitation and energy conservation work and refinance Applegate Apartments using $1,549,631 in VHCB and federal HOME funds in the $9.6 million redevelopment. Planned improvements will increase energy efficiency, affordability and accessibility and reduce operating expenses. A biomass heating system will be installed to serve the 104-unit apartment complex. Buildings will receive new windows, doors, siding, roofs and exterior insulation. Additionally, there will be repairs to sewer lines, upgrades to water lines, electrical upgrades, accessibility and code upgrades, improvements to roadways, sidewalks and parking areas.

Rutland – In the final phase in the redevelopment of Hickory Street (a former public housing project that was known as Forest Park), Housing Vermont and the Rutland Housing Authority will demolish 27 dilapidated apartments and construct 22 new apartments heated by a wood pellet system. The developers will use $265,000 in VHCB funding for the last phase of this 78-unit development. Installation of sewer and water, storm water and electric service for three single-family homes to be built by Rutland Habitat for Humanity on the east end of the development is included in the budget. In the course of redeveloping Forest Park, severe health threats have been addressed, the neighborhood has been revitalized, the number of homes has increased and the income mix has been altered to integrate households of various income levels, consistent with state housing policy.

Bradford – In a $2.45 million redevelopment using $350,000 in VHCB funds from the State of Vermont and $410,000 in federal HOME funding, Downstreet Housing & Community Development will rehabilitate four buildings at Colonial Village, a 21-apartment development with project-based rental assistance. Rehab will include new sidewalks and paving, new windows and energy efficiency upgrades including a wood pellet heating system. Accessibility improvements, new flooring, kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities, new appliances, smoke detectors and water saving plumbing fixtures will be added, along with a new sprinkler system. Located within walking distance of the town center, Colonial Village provides housing for seniors, families, and individuals with disabilities.

Hardwick – In a pilot project, the Lamoille Housing Partnership (LHP) will use $578,000 in VHCB funds and a $1.3 million loan from USDA Rural Development to place 13 energy efficient modular homes at Evergreen Manor Mobile Home Park. LHP will rent the homes, which are built by VerMod in Wilder, Vermont, to eligible households. Solar photovoltaic panels will produce electricity and air source heat pumps will heat and cool the units, resulting in net-zero energy use.

Wilder – Twin Pines Housing Trust and Housing Vermont will rehabilitate the Briars, a 24-unit complex, using $345,000 in VHCB funding and a HOME award of $365,000. Constructed in 1988, the buildings require new roofs, furnaces and weatherization. Paving of parking areas, site drainage and grading, installation of water-saving showerheads and faucets, new handicap railings and attic venting are included in the scope of work. Addressing the capital needs of the buildings and reducing the energy usage will serve the buildings for many years to come. The number of affordable units will be increased as well. In a partnership with the Upper Valley Haven, Twin Pines leases two units to formerly homeless households.

Rochester – Park House is a shared housing residence for 14 seniors located in the center of the village that will use $250,000 in VHCB funds to address health and safety code requirements including installing a sprinkler system and upgrading fire alarm and elevator. Park House was developed in 1990 and has housed 140 frail elders since that time. Future work will address energy efficiency needs.

Ludlow – Using $85,000 in VHCB funding, the Housing Trust of Rutland County will subsidize two new homes to be located on vacant lots in the Tuckerville Mobile Home Park. One home will be a conventional, Energy Star-rated home and one will be an energy efficient modular home built by VerMod.

Other commitments made at the meeting were $225,500 to the Upper Valley Land Trust to conserve 60 acres of farmland in Norwich, support for the Support and Services at Home (SASH) program that coordinates health care services for elders at housing sites ($35,000), and feasibility funding for projects in the early stages of development ($45,000).

For a link to the full press release, click here.

 



A Home For All

Posted February 17, 2016

Check out “A Home For All,’ a great short video on the importance of affordable housing in the Upper Valley made by our friends at the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission​!

‘A Home for All’ is the first of many videos that TRORC hopes to publish for the community to help reach a wider audience on TRORC’s work. With increased housing costs, and a limited housing stock, the workforce population has found it progressively more difficult to buy homes. The need for affordable housing also reaches to seniors and young adults just out of school. All of these various groups make up the vibrant communities we live in, and without affordable housing we run the risk of losing not just those groups, but also the prospect of new residents in our community.

The video focuses on why affordable housing is essential to maintaining our communities and culture in the Upper Valley. It features speakers from town officials, representatives from advocacy groups and affordable housing developers as well as staff from TRORC. Our hope is that the video can help break down the barriers of assumptions held by community members about the people in need of affordable housing. Through the AmeriCorps VISTA program, TRORC has dedicated staff whose focus is on projects relating to alleviating poverty in the region. Former VISTA member Pollaidh Major started the project in 2014 and the current VISTA member, Chris Damiani, wrapped up the video with editing and additional film footage. In the future TRORC plans to publish other informational pieces as well as trainings on a variety of topics.

You can access ‘A Home for All’ as well as other videos at www.youtube.com/trorcvt. For more information about this project, contact Chris Damiani at cdamiani@trorc.org

 



Putney Considers Affordable Housing on Newman Hall Lot

Posted February 16, 2016

The Brattleboro Reformer reports on the proposal of new affordable housing in Putney developed by Windham & Windsor Housing Trust:

The Affordable Housing Committee met Feb. 1 to discuss a proposed affordable housing project for the Newman Hall lot.

The housing project is located between Depot Street and Putney Landing Road, south of Curtis’ All American Barbecue. The project would include a mix of family and smaller apartments for a total of 18 units with a combination of townhouses and accessible flats. The site plan was first presented at the Dec. 15 meeting, which showed three structures in a U-shaped arrangement around a south-facing courtyard. The Feb. 1 meeting was attended by Connie Snow, Executive Director of Windham & Windsor Housing Trust and Bob Stevens of Stevens and Associates, who is the project civil engineer.

“We’re really excited about what seems to be an opportunity to meet the needs of affordable housing in Putney” said Snow during a January interview.

The project is nearing the end of the preliminary design phase, and is considered “feasible,” and a project information sheet was provided at the Feb. 1 meeting. Snow referenced a market study for the project by Doug Kennedy Advisors, which is focused on providing research, analyses and strategies to their clients’ real estate issues.

The study indicates that the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment with utilities in Putney is $940 per month. The rent with utilities for the proposed project is $525 to $600 per month for subsidized housing. A market rate unit would also be included with a rent and utilities at $697 per month. The proposed project rent for a two bedroom apartment would be $875 and for a three bedroom, $900. According to the study, the current average Putney rent for a two bedroom is $1,020 and $1,570 for a three bedroom.

WWHT develops affordable apartments throughout Windham and Windsor counties, and provides property management services and supportive services that seek to ensure long-term resident stability. WWHT recently completed the $2.4 million renovation of the Planz House, 27 Depot Road, into affordable apartments.

To continue reading the article, click here.

 



SAVE THE DATE – Feb 24 – Housing & Conservation Day at the State House

Posted February 9, 2016

PLEASE SET ASIDE FEBRUARY 24th as a day that you and your organization’s key supporters will spend in Montpelier, talking and advocating in the Legislature on the importance of Vermont Housing and Conservation Board funding for your organization and the communities it serves.

Vermont law statutorily dedicates 50% of the annual Property Transfer Tax (PTT) receipts to VHCB for investment in affordable housing and conservation. In the upcoming year, this would be about $19M. The Governor’s recommended budget, which is the starting place for the Legislature’s work, proposes $14M for VHCB, and reallocates the remaining $5M of VHCB’s statutory share of the PTT to General Fund deficit reduction.

We need members to TURN OUT IN FORCE to ask lawmakers to allocate the full legally required $19M to VHCB investments in the State budget. This is the balanced and sustainable level set by the PTT law.

Remind your reps. and senators that VHCB investments are a proven, efficient and effective way to produce great community results. For nearly 30 years, lawmaker’s balanced and sustainable approach to VHCB investments has been a key to success.

Tentative Schedule:

7:30- 9:00 – Breakfast meetings with individual legislators (breakfast sponsored by VHCC)

9:00- 10:00 – Welcome & meeting with Governor Shumlin, Lt. Governor Scott, Senate Pro Tem John Campbell, Speaker Smith, and other legislative leaders (most confirmed)

10:00- 11:00 – Joint meeting of Senate Economic Development, Housing & General Affairs and House General, Housing & Military Affairs Committees

11:00-12:00 – Joint meeting with Senate & House Agriculture Committees

12:00-1:30 – Lunch, and throughout the day – Meetings with individual legislators

2:00 – 3:00 – Ice cream social

Additional committee testimony is scheduled throughout the morning and early afternoon in Senate Health & Welfare, Natural Resources, and Institutions Committees, and House Commerce, Fish & Wildlife, Institutions, Natural Resources, Human Services, and Health Care Committees.

A final agenda and detailed invitation with talking points will follow.

For further information, contact:

Erhard Mahnke at 233-2902 or erhardm@burlingtontelecom.net

John Shullenberger at 373-2590 or jdsdiann@together.net

Adam Necrason at 223-9988 or adam@necrasongroup.com

Rebecca Ramos at 917-1008 or rebecca@necrasongroup.com

VHCC logo

 



Former Hotel Becomes Permanent Housing for Homeless

Posted January 26, 2016

VT Digger reports on the opening of the Beacon Apartments, which consists of 19 studio and one-bedroom apartments in the now renovated former Ho Hum Motel in South Burlington, will provide permanent housing and supportive services to chronically homeless individuals. The project is made possible through the work of the Champlain Housing Trust, the Burlington Housing Authority and the Community Health Centers of Burlington. Below is an excerpt from the article:

Many of the people who began moving into modest but newly renovated apartments this month at the former Ho Hum Motel haven’t had a place of their own in years.

One man said he hadn’t showered in 2½ months, recalled Ben Daniels, construction manager for the Beacon Apartments, as the single-story brick complex is known. Now he has his own bathroom with a shower.

The Beacon Apartments are a project of the Champlain Housing Trust, the Burlington Housing Authority and Safe Harbor, which is the Community Health Centers of Burlington’s health care program for homeless people.

The 19 studio and one-bedroom apartments on Route 7 between Burlington and Shelburne are not transitional housing, said Chris Donnelly, director of community relations for the housing trust. Tenants can stay forever if they choose, he said.

Working with United Way, the groups conducted a survey to identify the homeless people in the region most likely to die on the streets or in the woods. They’re also the people “most likely to cycle through emergency rooms,” Donnelly said — visits that ultimately drive up health care costs borne by the public at large.

The idea is to give the long-term homeless, many of whom struggle with substance abuse and mental illness, stable housing and support services that will allow them to live more normal lives.

“These are folks who have trouble navigating the system on a good day. They’ve really just been focused on survival,” said Erin Ahearn, Safe Harbor’s homeless health care program manager.

Many are the product of generational poverty and “never had the opportunity to be independent and successful on their own,” Ahearn said. They often grew up without a family home, frequently staying with friends or relatives, and in some cases on the streets, she said.

To read the full article, click here.

 



VT AHS Summary Housing Outcomes – 2015

Posted January 20, 2016

To view the summaries of key VT Agency of Human Services housing programs such as emergency shelter & services, supportive housing, weatherization and homelessness prevention over FY 2015, click here.

 



How Bernie Sanders Made Burlington Affordable

Posted

Slate.com recently published an article on how Senator Bernie Sanders supported the creation of the Burlington Community Land Trust (now known as Champlain Housing Trust) during his time as mayor of Burlington, which helped to improve housing affordability in the area. Below is an excerpt:

Bob Robbins bought his home in 1995 amid a bout of long-term unemployment. Living with his wife and two kids in a rundown rental in Burlington, Vermont, he wanted to stabilize the family’s housing before his children started kindergarten.

Prospects seemed bleak. The family’s savings had dwindled after his unemployment insurance gave out. But in 1993 Robbins saw a newspaper advertisement for something called the Burlington Community Land Trust. He visited its offices and learned about its generous grants for low-income home ownership. The innovative offer would significantly lower the price by allowing the couple to purchase only the house, while the trust paid for the land it sat on. Within two years, his family owned a home in a small town just to the east of the city. The Robbins family bought its home through a conventional realtor and a commercial bank while also entering a covenant with the land trust to lease the land upon their home sits upon. This reduced the costs of their mortgage and down payment substantially.

They’re far from alone. Across the land trust’s portfolio today, there are about 565 other homes that enjoy similar terms, not to mention 2,100 rental and cooperative units. Half of these holdings are located within the city of Burlington itself, which had a total of 16,897 housing units as of 2010, meaning that about 7.6 percent of the stock sits on the nonprofit’s land.

“We don’t understand why housing isn’t done this way everywhere,” says Robbins, who says the cheaper mortgage allowed his family to save money for college and retirement that otherwise would have gone toward housing. “It’s just such a logical thing to have land owned by a community and the house be your private property to do with as you wish. We’ve just had a terrific life here so far because of it.”

While mayor of Burlington in the 1980s, the democratic-socialist senator and current contender for the Democratic presidential nomination was an early champion of community land trusts. Today, the organization whose creation he made possible—now called the Champlain Housing Trust—is the largest and most influential of its type in the nation.

Community land trusts are nonprofit organizations, with a board composed of representatives of the public, the local government, and the tenants, that obtain land and either develop it themselves or lease it to developers. The trust then removes its holdings from the private market, usually through 99-year ground leases and pre-emptive purchase requirements that limit how much the house can be sold for. Community land trust boosters argue that this not only ensures permanent affordability, but allows the organization to intercede in the case of, say, a foreclosure. An oft-cited study by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy showed that, as of 2010, homeowners within a land trust were 10 times less likely to default on their homes than their private-market counterparts.

To continue reading the full article, click here.

 



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