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New Housing Projects Open Up Across the State

VAHC is the first to say that Vermont has incredible nonprofits in every corner of the state focused on creating new permanently affordable housing. We are also lucky to have a strong network of state agencies, private sector partners, and supporters that help our nonprofit housing developers see creative and innovative projects through to fruition.

But it still isn’t easy to meet the ever-increasing need for housing. On top of the usual challenges of securing funding, permits, and community support for housing projects, this year threw nonprofit housing for a major loop when COVID-19 brought construction effectively to a halt for several weeks during the spring, at the same time bringing to light many dire needs and leaving many vulnerable to housing insecurity. Thankfully, construction was able to resume safely under social distancing guidelines. Some our partners’ projects are opening up this fall, providing much-needed housing for low-income Vermonters in this difficult time.

Many of these projects are made possible by the Housing for All Revenue Bond established in 2017, which raised $37 million for new housing projects—the largest Vermont statewide investment in housing in a decade. Its impact is palpable, tripling the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board‘s capacity to invest in affordable housing, and resulting in 843 new apartments and homes across 34 developments, and 60 home accessibility improvements. But with all of the dollars now allocated, Vermont will need to pursue innovative ways to fund more housing, which continues to be the single greatest financial stress for Vermonters. VAHC joins our members in calling upon policymakers at the local, state, and federal level to increase funding for affordable housing so we can see more people have access to homes like these!

These new developments will provide energy-efficient, safe, modern, comfortable homes to people who need them. Thanks to everyone who worked to make this possible! We congratulate our partners the openings of the following projects:

Vergennes Community Apartments, Vergennes

Partners: Addison County Community Trust (ACCT) and EverNorth (formerly Housing Vermont)

This highly energy efficient, multi-family building is located close to downtown Vergennes and right next door to Armory Lane Senior Apartments, also a property of ACCT and EverNorth. The apartments offer solar-powered electric vehicle charging, a large open green space, covered picnic pavilion, playground, raised community gardens, front and back porches, and mountain views from almost every window.

The 24 apartments are affordable to a range of income levels, targeted to families earning just half of median income. Rents range as follows:

1 BR apartments: $659-$965 2 BR apartments: $780-$1175 3 BR apartments: $1,085

According to Elise Shanbacker, Executive Director of ACCT, the project will help alleviate a serious shortage of affordable housing in Addison County, where almost half of renters are cost-burdened, paying over 30 percent of their income for housing costs.

Images courtesy of ACCT.

Funding Information: The cost for the project totaled over $7 million. Over $4.3 million (about 60 percent) of the cost was financed by EverNorth’s first joint venture, Housing New England Fund 1. 26 banks invested in this fund, which will finance affordable housing across Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Over $2 million (close to 30 percent) of funding came from VHCB, partially through the “Housing for All” Revenue Bond. Other funding partners included Vermont Community Development Program city of Vergennes, Efficiency Vermont, and NBT Bank.

Lake Paran Village, Shaftsbury/North Bennington

Partner: Shires Housing

This 22-unit development will help to fill a much-needed gap in the region, since according to VHFA’s database there were previously only 7 affordable housing units in the town of Shaftsbury. It will also connect residents to the natural environment with a walking path to the beautiful Lake Paran, making it a win-win for both housing and conservation. Each unit includes a porch and private entrance, washer and dryer hook-ups, and all new appliances, including dishwasher. Residents will also enjoy a walking path to Paran Recreations and the beautiful lake.

The development will be affordable to a range of income levels, with 14 of the units targeted to households at the “very low” income level, making under 50 percent of HUD’s Area Median Income, which in Bennington County equates to $26,150 for a 1-person household/$37,300 for a 4-person household. Rents start as low as $665/month. Interested tenants should visit Shires Housing’s website to view and apply for the apartments.

Funding Information: The cost of the project totaled over $7.5 million. $5 million was provided by Low Income Housing Tax Credits purchased by People’s United Bank, which also provided a construction loan. The Housing For All Revenue Bond added $1.45 million to the project. The project received additional funding from the Vermont Community Development Program through Town of Shaftsbury, FHLBank of Boston Affordable Housing Program Direct Grant, Efficiency Vermont, Vermont Community Loan Fund, and Green Mountain Power.

Congress Street Apartments, St. Albans

St. Albans’ newest development will include 30 apartments conveniently located just a block from Main Street, close to shopping, schools, and the bus line. The developers hope to wrap up construction in October to start leasing the building in November. Visit CHT’s website to learn more and apply!

Funding Information: The project was funded by Low Income Housing Tax Credits administered by Vermont Housing Finance Agency, the Housing for All Revenue Bond funding allocated by Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, HOME funds allocated by Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, a Vermont Community Development Program award to the City of St. Albans, and a NeighborWorks America grant to CHT.

Olivia Place, Lyndon

Partners: RuralEdge and EverNorth

Olivia Place replaced 14 apartments in blighted buildings with 20 new, energy efficient, safe, healthy, sustainable units of affordable housing. The project is named after Olivia Beleau, an architect who served as Deputy Director of Gilman Housing Trust (now RuralEdge) from the early 1990s until 2010 and oversaw transformational community development projects in the Northeast Kingdom. Beleau passed away in 2018 and Olivia Place honors her legacy. Four units are reserved for formerly homeless households, and two are designated for ADA accessibility. Residents will also enjoy a community garden and access to SASH services. Interested tenants should call 802-535-3555 and ask for an application.

Funding Information: The project was financed with a combination of Low Income Housing Tax Credits syndicated by Evernorth and grants from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB), HOME, Housing for All Revenue Bond Funds, Efficiency Vermont, the Vermont Community Development Program (VCDP) through the Town of Lyndon. TD Bank also provided a construction loan.

Bellows Falls Garage, town of Rockingham

Partner: Windham & Windsor Housing Trust

Windham & Windsor Housing Trust is celebrating the groundbreaking of this creative mixed-use development on October 8, 2020. The $8.7 million project will repurpose a blighted historic building from a garage into 26 units of mixed-income housing, with commercial space on the ground floor. 20 of the units will be income-restricted, affordable housing.

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