On May 19th, the Brattleboro Selectboard approved $27,000 for use over the next three years by the Apartments in Homes (AIH) program, an initiative of Brattleboro Area Affordable Housing (BAAH). The funds will be used to create nine new apartments in single family homes in Brattleboro by providing grants of up to $4,000 ($3,000 per unit from the Town and $1,000 from BAAH) to assist with the cost of constructing a separate living unit within their home. Established in 2003 by Brattleboro Area Affordable Housing – an all volunteer board whose mission is to improve, increase and preserve housing that is affordable to low-income people in the Brattleboro area – the Apartments in Homes program provides assistance for technical and design support to homeowners in order to establish small apartments inside pre-existing single-family homes. The AIH program helps homeowners interested in creating affordable rental units in Brattleboro, where the housing stock is extraordinarily limited with a current vacancy rate of 0.5% (a healthy vacancy rate is 4-6%). The model helps homeowners to pursue rental income, helping to keep the bills paid, and at the same time it is energy and land-efficient while increasing home values and consequently the Town’s tax base. Homeowners are free to rent to whomever they wish, and once there is a tenant, BAAH remains available for guidance and support. “When you help people put apartments in their homes, two great things happen: you help hard-pressed homeowners keep their homes, and you increase the supply of affordable housing in our tight rental market,” said Tyler Maas, Apartments In Homes Chair and member of the BAAH Board, “and it barely changes the streetscape and character of a neighborhood – making it the most logical means of creating affordable housing.” Since the program’s inception, AIH has completed 45 apartments in and around Brattleboro. The total costs of creating apartments have ranged from $8,000 to $45,000. Rental income normally repays that cost within two to five years. After that, net rent typically pays the majority of the property tax. Recent Vermont legislation encourages the development of apartments in homes as a land-efficient means of adding affordable housing in Vermont’s communities. Brattleboro or Bellows Falls homeowners interested in learning about this program may call 802-246-2224, Ext 1. More information and a list of FAQs is available at baahvt.org. Please note: This program is limited to single-family, owner-occupied homes, and due to funding constraints, the program is limited to homes in Brattleboro or Bellows Falls.
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