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Rutland Turns Public Housing into Community Asset

Posted July 27, 2017

Forest Park, with 75 apartments, was one of Rutland’s largest public housing projects. It was built in 1971 and looked it. Recently though, the project has turned from eyesore to asset after undergoing a $22 million. Previously only accessible via an access road, developers chose to move a city street in order to make it more accessible.

The redevelopment has come in stages, with 33 units completed in 2011 and 23 in 2015, while construction of the final 22 units began only this month. Rents vary from about $100 a month up to about $800 a month. All the units are full, and there’s currently a six-to-nine-month waiting list.

In the final phase of the project, developers have reserved six units for families who have experiences homelessness, acknowledging Rutland’s problems with addressing homelessness. The complex is overseen by the Rutland Housing Authority.

Read more from VPR.


Cambrian Rise Project Moves Forward


Eric Farrell’s residential project that would bring nearly 750 new units of housing to the North End is moving forward. While Farrell has yet to purchase the balance of Burlington College property that was sold to People’s United Bank recently at auction, one of the residential buildings, Liberty House, has already begun leasing. Rents range from $925 to $1,900, though some of the units are as small as 280 square feet.

Champlain Housing Trust and the senior-housing developer Cathedral Square would each construct one of the development’s 12 buildings, providing 146 units of affordable housing.

In the end, the city council unanimously supported the plan to build on 21.6 acres. The project would have 739 units: 240 condos, 353 rentals and the 146 affordable units. The plan includes an additional 42-room hotel.

Read more from Seven Days.


New Bel Aire Apartments Open, Property Addresses Chronic Homelessness

Posted July 26, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                    July 26, 2017

See Also Attached FAQ Sheet

Contact: Chris Donnelly,, (802) 310-0623

                 Michael Carrese,, (802) 847-0368

Burlington, Vermont – The Champlain Housing Trust, UVM Medical Center, community leaders and other partners came together today to celebrate the opening of the Bel Aire Apartments in Burlington’s South End. The former motel has been converted to eight apartments that will become home to 12-15 people.

The new apartments, owned by the Champlain Housing Trust (CHT), will house people who have experienced chronic homelessness or who are living in unsafe conditions that would inhibit their ability to recover from a medical condition. Case management and social work from the Community Health Centers of Burlington will provide services to residents. This is the latest step in a coordinated campaign to end homelessness in Chittenden County, one that has contributed to a nearly 50% reduction in the past three years, according the annual Point in Time count.

CHT’s purchase and renovation of the property was made possible by a grant from the UVM Medical Center. The UVM Medical Center is also providing funding for case management and operations. Earlier collaborations in Vermont – and similar programs around the country – demonstrate health savings that outweigh the cost of the housing while helping people become healthier.

“If a patient is discharged from the hospital without a safe and reliable place to store medication or simply to sleep, it can be difficult to avoid a trip back to the Emergency Room,” said Eileen Whalen, President and Chief Operating Officer at the UVM Medical Center. “By helping the patients we serve who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless, we help them focus on getting better and save health care dollars.”

“Four years ago, we committed to redoubling our efforts towards virtually eliminating homelessness in our region,” said Brenda Torpy, CEO of Champlain Housing Trust. “Today is another, very important step towards that goal, and we can’t thank the UVM Medical Center enough for their partnership.”

The former motor lodge with 12 rooms was a family-run business originally built in the 1950s. The location and structure of the building lent itself almost perfectly for this adaptation and next chapter in its life. The renovation was managed by 2nd Generation Builders. The property now has one efficiency, five 1-bedroom, one 2-bedroom and one 4-bedroom apartment. Five of the apartments will subsidized through a voucher made available by the Burlington Housing Authority; the remaining will be covered by the UVM Medical Center.

The apartments will come furnished and Burlington Telecom is providing discounted rates to the residents. CVOEO’s Weatherization Program provided support for the building renovation, and local businesses donated plants for window boxes.

The UVM Medical Center will fill three apartments with patients for whom continued hospital stay is not necessary, but may not have a safe place to recover. The remaining five will be people identified by community organizations as most in need, as determined by an ongoing assessment coordinated by the Chittenden County Homeless Alliance. Tenants will move in mid-August.

“Congratulations to the Champlain Housing Trust and UVM Medical Center for coming together with this innovative partnership to create the Bel Aire Apartments,” Mayor Miro Weinberger added. “The City of Burlington is committed to do anything within our means to end chronic homelessness. Housing First strategies are proven to work, and we are excited that efforts like this one at the Bel Aire will make significant headway to address this issue.”

The conversion of the Bel Aire is the latest in a series of collaborative efforts with these partners and others. Harbor Place, a motel in Shelburne, has provided emergency lodging for people with no other place to turn. It has saved the state over $1 million and saved an estimated $1 million in health care costs – all while being more effective at helping people find permanent housing.

Beacon Apartments in South Burlington used to be the Ho Hum Motel. It is now home to 19 people who had been chronically homeless with medical vulnerabilities. That property opened in January, 2016.

For more information and a short video on these partnerships, please visit:

Read more from the Burlington Free Press.

Read more from VTDigger.


Here, Still: Resident Organizer Corrine Yonce has Artwork Displayed

Posted July 21, 2017

The New City Galerie in downtown Burlington held an event last night to showcase the work of three local artists. Corrine Yonce, VAHC’s Americorps VISTA Resident Organizer, had her portraits on display for the show. Some of those portraits are directly related to VAHC’s Voices of Home project. Corrine has been painting residents living in affordable housing, whose interviews we have shared on this site. She is a truly talented artist, and the residents’ stories are captured in their portraits.

In her artist’s talk, Corrine spoke of the process of being able to work not just from a photograph but from her interactions with the residents during their interviews. She talked about how their experiences informed her artistry and the ways in which their stories helped to shape the portraits. The portraits on display featured residents from Decker Towers, 3 Cathedral Square, and Northgate Apartments. The paintings were accompanied by phone numbers that are connected to clips from each of the corresponding interviews, which would not be possible without technical assistance provided by the Vermont Folklife Center. The aim of the phone numbers is to make the Voices of Home interviews accessible to the low-income residents that the project focuses on, who may not have access to a smartphone or internet.

This project is possible because of the generous support of Curtis Lumber, Dick Blick, Burlington City Arts, CVOEO’s Thriving Communities project, and HUD. We congratulate Corrine on her dedication to sharing the stories of low-income residents and on making her art accessible to the people that she serves.


Save the Date: Bel Aire Apartments Ribbon Cutting

Posted July 20, 2017

The Champlain Housing Trust and The University of Vermont Medical Center are pleased to announce the upcoming opening of the Bel Aire Apartments!

This former motel has been converted to eight apartments to advance our community’s work to end homelessness and improve the lives of Vermonters.

What: Ribbon cutting ceremony and tour of the new Bel Aire Apartments

When: Wednesday, July 26 at 10am

Where: 111 Shelburne Street, Burlington Please note: there is no parking on site, but Christ the King School, just to the north of the property at Locust Street, has graciously given us permission to use their lots. Please let us know if you have mobility challenges and we will assist you.

RSVP: Chris Donnelly (802) 861-7305


2 Vermont Mobile Home Parks Reel After Notice of Sale


Residents of St. George Villa in St. George and Sunset Lake Villa in Hinesburg recently received letters notifying them of the owner’s intent to sell the parks. According to state law, residents have the first chance to purchase the park for themselves and form a cooperative, or with the help of a designated nonprofit organization. Arthur Hamlin, Housing Program Coordinator at the Department of Housing & Community Development, made sure to emphasize that this was by no means a reason for residents to fear the loss of their homes.

“I know they’re really anxious when they get that sale notice, bu it is a sale notice, and not a closing notice,” Hamlin said.

The residents fear that if they are not allowed to remain in their homes, they may not be able to afford the cost of moving to a new home, or may not be able to find an empty lot at another park.

Read more about the potential sale of St George and Sunset Lake Villas from WPTZ.


VHCB Housing Bond Public Hearings


On June 28th, a significant achievement from this legislative session was signed into law: approval of a $35 million revenue bond to invest in affordable and workforce housing. The bond was proposed by Gov. Scott in January and was enthusiastically received by both the House and the Senate. (A summary of the proposed uses of the bond is attached.)

The revenue bond will be issued by VHFA and administered by VHCB. As we outline the investment of bond proceeds in housing development projects, we are reaching out to communities around the state for help in identifying highest priority needs and projects. I would like to invite you to a meeting in your area to learn more about the revenue bond and to hear your ideas:

Manchester Public Library                                     Winooski  Valley Park District
138 Cemetary Ave, Manchester                       1 Ethan Allen Homestead, Burlington
July 27th    10:30 – 12:00                     July 31st   1:00 – 2:30

In the interim, feel free to contact Martin Hahn, our Housing Director (, 828-3259), if you have questions or feedback.

Thanks to everyone who gave voice to the need for this investment to assist both our most vulnerable citizens and our workforce.


NLIHC From the Field: Vermont Legislature Passes $35 Million Housing Bond


The Vermont state legislature wrapped up its business for the year on June 21, having resolved an impasse with Governor Phil Scott (R) over teachers’ health care benefits that resulted in a budget veto and the convening a special veto session.  The resolution of the impasse led to final passage of an FY18 state budget, which Governor Scott signed on June 27. The budget includes a $35 million bond for the production and rehabilitation of permanently affordable housing, both rental and homeownership. Mr. Scott first proposed the bond in his January state budget address, and the proposal quickly gained support in the state legislature. Passage of the bond represents Vermont’s largest allocation of funding for state housing programs in ten years.

The Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) will issue the bond, which is expected to leverage between $70 million and $100 million in state, federal, and private capital beyond the value of the bond itself. Revenue generated by the bond will be administered and awarded by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB).

VHCB Executive Director Gus Seelig expects 100 units to be under construction in Brattleboro by the end of 2017 with  revenue from the bond. These units will house 200 to 250 Vermont residents. He anticipates a development deal in Burlington for use of bond funds by winter. Middlebury is expected to construct workforce housing, while White River Junction will develop micro-apartments and other alternatives for people experiencing homelessness. The bond revenue will double Vermont’s housing production and redevelopment activities in the coming years. It will aid in developing and rehabilitating up to 650 homes across the state. Projects will receive funds based on community needs, applications received, and the availability of resources for leverage.

Vermont’s housing resources for FY18 remain unclear, though, given the precarious state of the federal appropriations process and proposed cuts to HUD, USDA, and essential HHS safety-net programs that would have catastrophic impacts on the lowest income Vermonters. “Even a small change could have a drastic effect (on the state),” Mr. Scott said. However, both he and Mr. Seelig hailed the housing bond as an economic stimulus for Vermont. Without safe, decent, and affordable housing for all the state’s residents, economic growth will stall. Housing construction creates jobs, spurs economic activity, and generates state and local revenue.

The bond will be paid for via $2.5 million in annual revenue from a property transfer tax over 20 years, through 2039. One and a half million dollars of that will come from VHCB’s annual base appropriation. The other $1 million will come from an increase in the transfer tax, thereby reducing the impact on VHCB’s base annual appropriation. At least a quarter of the homes created will go to households earning under 50% of area median income (AMI). Another quarter will go to more moderate income households earning between 80% and 120% of AMI. According to VHCB, these two groups “most lack housing options” in the state. The remaining half of bond funds can support housing for people earning less than 120% of AMI but will more likely go to lower income Vermonters below 80% and 100% of AMI, subject to the decisions of VHCB’s board. VHCB is already holding meetings across the state to identify the highest priority communities and potential projects.

The timing for the passage of the bond is critical, as homelessness and housing shortages are widespread across Vermont. According to NLIHC’s 2017 Housing Gap report, there is a shortage of 10,866 rental homes affordable and available to the state’s 18,138 extremely low income (ELI) renter households, defined at those with incomes at or below the poverty line or 30% of their area median income (AMI).  There are only 40 rental homes affordable and available for each 100 of the state’s ELI renter households. Vermont’s 2017 Housing Wage is $21.90 an hour. It has the 5th largest affordability gap for renters of any state in the nation and is the seventh most expensive state for rural (non-metro) areas.

Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe (D/P) and Senators Kevin Mullin (R), Michael Sirotkin (D), Jane Kitchel (D), Ann Cummings (D), Becca Balint (D), Philip Baruth (D/P) and Alison Clarkson (D) played key roles in getting the new funds included in the state budget and raising the necessary new revenues, as did House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D) and Representatives Helen Head (D), Janet Ancel (D), Kitty Toll (D), Fred Baser (R), and Sam Young (D).

“We are incredibly excited that the housing bond made it across the finish line this year,” said Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition Coordinator Erhard Mahnke. “This was a huge team effort from so many people — from the governor and his team to key legislative leaders, mayors, VHCB’s dedicated staff, and all our community housing partners and homeless service providers. It will have a tremendous impact on Vermont’s long standing affordable housing needs, providing safe, stable homes for low and moderate income working Vermonters, people with special needs and those without homes.”


Update on General Assistance Emergency Housing – Fiscal Year 2018 Budget

Posted July 18, 2017

Dear Coalition Members & Friends,

We were thrilled to hear from DCF Commissioner Ken Schatz this morning the good news that General Assistance Emergency Housing alternatives will be fully funded past September 30.  Further, Commissioner Schatz has indicated that he is able to do this without implementing GA policy changes this fiscal year.  For those who did not receive it, click here to read the memo. It is also posted below.

Thanks for this decision go to Commissioner Schatz and his Housing Team at the Department for Children and Families, its Economic Services Division, and the Office of Economic Opportunity, as well as to Human Services Secretary Al Gobeille and his staff for their support.  We are also deeply thankful to the lawmakers who voiced their concerns about the possible loss of this funding beyond September, as well as Coalition members and friends for their advocacy.  Especially appreciated has been Commissioner Schatz’ commitment to transparency, openness and collaboration during a time of great anxiety for those organizations and individuals directly and indirectly affected.

We look forward to continuing to work together on reducing — and hopefully one day ending — homelessness in Vermont.


2017 VCEH Local CoC Assessment Report



I am pleased to announce the release of the 2017 Local CoC Assessment Report, a year-long project conducted by the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness that comes as a result of meetings with each of the eleven local Continua of Care that comprise the Balance of State. This report details certain best practices that are happening across the Balance of State, local perspectives on the VCEH, common areas for improvement, and an explanation of some of the things that the VCEH is doing to address key issues that are covered in the report. I’d like to thank each local CoC for their cooperation and willing participation in this project, and I hope that the results will prove useful in allowing the VCEH to address local areas of need. You can find the full report and the presentation that I will be giving at next month’s VCEH meeting below.


Luke Dodge

Communications and Outreach Coordinator
Americorps VISTA
Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness
Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition


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