Latest Budget Cut Could Harm Affordable Housing Sector
This week. VPR spoke with several affordable housing advocates about Governor Shumlin’s new proposed plans for cutting the state’s budget and how they may cause damage to the affordable housing sector, including VAHC coordinator Erhard Mahnke:
“The way this has been presented by the administration is that this is a cut that will really only affect middle-income people, and they have other places they can go to get energy efficiency funds to make improvement to their homes,” says Erhard Mahnke, coordinator of the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition. “And nothing could be further from the truth.” Mahnke says the weatherization funds often provide a critical piece of financing for rehabilitation of old affordable housing stock, as well as the construction of new units. “When you’re taking these monies … away from the Vermont Fuel Efficiency Partnership, you’re removing one of the key sources that helps to stabilize housing costs over the future, for both the nonprofit operator and the low-income residents that benefit from it,” Mahnke says. Mahnke says the program funds improvements for as many as 500 units a year. He says the heating costs that are saved are vital to the residents, half of whom report average annual incomes of $17,000. Take away the weatherization money, and Mahnke says the state will stall production of needed affordable housing capacity. “And we need more affordable housing,” Mahnke says. “This is death by a thousand cuts. And it’s going to make it that much more difficult for us to make headway in the battle against homelessness.”
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