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New Affordable Housing Underway in Brattleboro

Photo Credit: Kenn Sassorossi Almost four years from the day that Tropical Storm Irene devastated Brattleboro and other Vermont communities, Senator Patrick Leahy led a celebration which marked the start of construction of Red Clover Commons, a 55-unit apartment building which will provide replacement housing for residents of Melrose Terrace. Melrose Terrace, constructed by the Brattleboro Housing Authority in 1965, is adjacent to the Whetsone Brook and much of the property is in the floodway and flood plain. The entire site was flooded by Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011 and 60 of the 80 apartments were damaged. Those units have been repaired and re-occupied, but it was clear to the Housing Authority that the senior and disabled residents needed to be relocated to a safer site. U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy said: “Looking at this progress, it is hard to imagine that four years ago, many of us were still emerging from our communities for the first time to see the damage that Tropical Storm Irene had wrought across our great state. Today I am proud to stand with Brattleboro to celebrate the extraordinary effort undertaken to replace Melrose Terrace and give new life to Canal Street. This project represents the partnership and perseverance of our communities to thrive in the wake of disaster and build much-needed safe, affordable, energy efficient housing in Southern Vermont.” The Brattleboro Housing Partnership (which is the new name of the Brattleboro Housing Authority) and Housing Vermont partnered to create Red Clover Commons on a vacant 2.8-acre site on Fairground Road. The 3-story building will offer a total of 55 apartments—53 one-bedroom and 2 two-bedroom units—for seniors and those of any age with disabilities. Potential residents must have annual incomes less than 50% of the HUD area median; the current limits are $22,950 for a single person and $26,200 for a two-person household. All residents will benefit from project-based rent subsidies through the Vermont State Housing Authority. “All 55 apartments will be occupied by residents relocating form Melrose Terrace. The 25 residents remaining at Melrose will then have top priority to move to Red Clover,” explained Brattleboro Housing Partnership Executive Director Chris Hart. Red Clover Commons will offer several amenities including resident support services through the SASH program and will feature an innovative geothermal heating and cooling system. “The architects gave careful consideration to how the building relates to the neighborhood and best serves our future tenants,” said Kathy Beyer, Vice President of Housing Development for Housing Vermont. “The welcoming main entry, which includes a front pouch to greet guests and to relax, leads into a gracious lobby area. The adjoining community dining room and kitchen/café overlook an outdoor terrace and resident gardens.” The building is also highly energy efficient and will utilize geothermal wells to provide year-round heating and cooling. A high efficiency central chiller will be used to heat and cool water. “We expect to lower our heating and cooling costs by about 50 percent,” Beyer said. Funding totaling $15.9 million from several private and public sources was raised to finance the total development cost. HUD’s CDBG-Disaster Relief program, sponsored by Senator Leahy with support from Senator Sanders and Congressman Welch, is providing a critical $5.5 million loan. The People’s United Bank is investing $7.5 million in equity through the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit program and is also the source of construction financing and a $1 million permanent loan. Other funding sources included the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, HOME program, Efficiency Vermont, and the Brattleboro Housing Partnerships and Housing Vermont. “The Agency of Commerce and Community Development is delighted to be providing more than $5 million for Red Clover Commons,” said ACCD Secretary Patricia Moulton. “By creating new energy-efficient, affordable homes out of the reach of floodwaters, the project both addresses and prepares for climate change. We are grateful for the partnership between the Brattleboro Housing Partnerships and Housing Vermont and the support of Senator Leahy which are making it possible to replace housing that has been repeatedly flooded by the Whetstone.” Gossens Bachman Architects was the project architect and Trumbull-Nelson Construction is the general contractor. Red Clover Commons will open its doors in September 2016.

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