This Saturday, March 25, Volunteers In Action will bring the sleep Out movement to UVM’s campus for the first time. The Sleep Out movement is worldwide, and helps create awareness of local homelessness and organizations fighting to end homelessness. On the night of the sleep out, participants will sleep outside in unison with community members facing homelessness. Many former participants state the experience as eye-opening and life-changing.
The State of Vermont’s Ending Family Homelessness by 2020 campaign states that on any given night, over 1,100 Vermonters are without housing, one out of four of them being youth.
This past Thursday, more than 100 people slept out in the cold outside of Burlington’s Unitarian Church to help raise money and awareness for Spectrum. The organization expects to raise more than $250,000 as a result of these sleep outs.
The UVM Sleep Out will support Spectrum, the VCRHYP member agency of Chittenden County, which provides support services and temporary housing for youth experiencing homelessness or at-risk of losing their home.
There is no registration deadline for this event, ,but pre-registration is required. Learn more here.
Some of Vermont’s liberal legislators have suggested that tax increases may help to offset the budget gap that they are currently facing. Some representatives propose increasing taxes on the most wealthy Vermonters, increasing the minimum wage, enacting a paid leave program with a tax on it, and cutting funds that benefit businesses. Democrats are arguing that the wealthiest Vermonters can easily absorb these tax increases without issue. Further, liberals argue that cuts to certain programs that directly benefit businesses could save the state over $7 million dollars a year.
One program that is currently facing large cuts is the Cold Weather Exemption, which provides shelter to homeless Vermonters on the coldest nights of the year regardless of their eligibility status for GA Motel vouchers. These cuts could seriously jeopardize the state’s ability to provide shelter for our most vulnerable residents on nights when the weather is at its most brutal.
Read more here.
Vermont Housing Managers Association (VHMA) and Granite State Managers Association (GSMA) have joined forces to offer a day-long Fair Housing training with A. J. Johnson. This training will include the requirements of federal and state fair housing law with a specific concentration on components of the Federal Fair Housing Act relating to on site management and maintenance of apartment communities. Find more information here.
Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro declared that the $6.2 million cuts from HUD by the Trump administration would significantly impede communities’ and states’ abilities to meet the housing needs of low and middle income residents. According to Castro, at current funding levels only 1 out of 4 people who qualify for HUD programs are being served, and that number will surely fall under the proposed cuts.
Castro also notes those who will be most affected and harmed by these cuts include homeless veterans, seniors and families, especially with regard to HOME and Community Development Block Grants. The money from these programs go to housing affordability, and thus without the funding, homelessness will likely only go up.
Read more here.
Currently, across the state of Vermont, 90 percent of residents who are being evicted have no attorney. Over and over again, tenants who are being evicted show up to court unprepared, with no sense of what to do or how to defend themselves. However, in order to assist those in danger of being evicted and make the courtroom more equitable, Judge Helen Toor has teamed up with Law Line. The goal of the partnership is to provide free legal assistance to those facing complicated eviction cases. Further, Vermont counties have begun to receive grants from federal organizations, such as Legal Services Corporation, in order to help aid those at risk of being evicted.
In Spring 2014, Toor proposed a clinic where tenants could receive free one-time representation by volunteer attorneys. After that one time, tenants would be required to pay rent to the court while the process continues. Additionally, Toor changed the court scheduling system so lawyers who wanted to volunteer for tenants could do so without exceeding their maximum number of cases in a single day.
Last Friday, Governor Phil Scott joined local, state and federal partners to announce a $525,000 community development grant to the City of South Burlington. The funds will support City Center Senior Housing – 39 units of affordable senior housing located in the City’s Tax Increment Finance District (TIF).
Private developers Chris Snyder and Kevin Braverman will join forces with Cathedral Square, a non-profit affordable housing provider, to build new senior housing on Market Street. This is the first of many proposed projects located in South Burlington’s new City Center. South Burlington voters approved the creation of a TIF District in 2012 and in 2016 approved the resulting $5 million bond issue to upgrade Market Street with sidewalks, utilities and infrastructure to support more housing and commercial development and create Dumont Park.
“This project would not be possible without the use of tax increment financing. It is a valuable development tool for communities, like South Burlington, to use in revitalizing their downtowns and village centers,” said Gov. Scott. “Tax increment financing has demonstrated benefits to supporting the type of development projects we need to make housing more affordable for all.”
The $525,000 Vermont Community Development Program grant awarded to the City of South Burlington is one of many competitive awards made from the State’s federal allocation of Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). The State awards approximately $7 million annually in competitive grants through its Department of Housing and Community Development. The CDBG grants are funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Vermont’s congressional delegation has been steadfast in supporting the funding that makes this program possible.
Read more on the project from VTDigger.
Watch the report on WCAX.
Home prices are on the rise across the nation, and there seems no sign of them coming down any time soon. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Index (HPI) stated that in the last quarter of 2016, home prices rose 1.5 percent. Looking back, home prices rose 6.4 percent from the fourth quarter or 2015, to the fourth quarter of 2016. From the fourth quarter of 2015 to the fourth quarter of 2016, home prices rose in 46 states and in Washington D.C. At the top of this list was Oregon, with an 11 percent average increase in home price. This was followed by Colorado with 10.6 percent, Florida at 10.4 percent, Washington at 10.2 percent, and Nevada with 8.2 percent.
With regards to metropolitan areas, in Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL, prices rose by 13.2 percent. On the flip-side Wilmington, DE-MD-NJ (MSAD), prices of homes were weakest, and actually declined by 1.8 percent. Further, the mountain region of the U.S. experienced the greatest rise in the fourth quarter, with 2.1 percent, while the Middle Atlantic region, was the weakest, yet prices still increased 0.9 percent.
According to FHFA Deputy Chief Economist Andrew Leventis, it seems there is no sign of any home price slowdown. He further stated that it will still take time to truly feel the effects of rising interest rates, but with housing inventories so low, which is the primary driving force of the increase in home prices, it seems there will not be a decline in prices for quite some time.
Read more here.
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be holding a series of webinars this month. The webinars are for Continuums of Care (CoCs) and recipients of CoC Program and Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) Program funding. This series will educate participants about the components of the Notice Establishing Additional Requirements for Continuum of Care Centralized or Coordinated Assessment System.
- Tuesday, March 20, 2017 1:00–2:30 PM EDT
- Wednesday, March 22, 2017 2:00–3:30 PM EDT
- Thursday, March 28, 2017 1:00–2:30 PM EDT
The main point of contact is Jake LaSala who can be reached at 240-582-3624 or CE.Training@Cloudburstgroup.com
Learn more here.
The current administration has discussed dramatic changes to the Fair Housing Act. The administration is proposing the “Local Zoning Decisions Protection Act of 2017,” which would abolish the Fair Housing Act. Trump declares this newly proposed act will help turn inner cities around.
The Fair Housing Act famously helped to eliminate redlining and racial discrimination in housing, but this proposed legislation would reverse the progress that has been made with regards to zoning since it was introduced in 1968. Prior to this act, practices like redlining and blockbusting increased property values in white neighborhoods at the expense of black neighborhoods, which were left in poverty.
However, it is only recently that this act has been more successful in achieving its goal of creating more diverse, inclusive communities and overcoming discrimination. If the administration’s policy is successful, racial blindness and discrimination would be enshrined in federal law. According to the section following the nullification provision, “[N]o federal funds may be used to design, build, maintain, utilize or provide access to a federal database of information on community racial disparities or disparities in access to affordable housing”.
The Affordable Care Act is in jeopardy, and if it is repealed, 29.8 millions of American would not just lose their insurance, but could suffer further consequences. Overall, nearly 1.2 million people would lose their jobs, and not just those in the health care sector.
Losing insurance also means our economy would be damaged. If this current support for for insurance were to be taken away, those who are currently insured by the Affordable Care Act, would have to devote more money to insurance and less money to other necessities like water, food, and rent.
Read more here.