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VHCB Awards $5.2 Million to to Create and Rehabilitate Affordable Housing and Conserve Farmland, R

The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) announced grants totaling $5,215,623 to develop and rehabilitate 216 affordable homes, to protect 377 acres of agricultural land on three farms, to conserve 340 acres of forest land in the towns of Pownal, Shrewsbury and Mendon, and to provide permanent public access to a swimming hole in Johnson. The VHCB board made the funding commitments at a meeting in Burlington on Friday, June 12. Housing developments and rehabilitation projects were funded in the towns of Bennington, Springfield, Fair Haven, Waltham and South Burlington. Farmland conservation projects were funded in the towns of Ferrisburgh, Morgan, Cornwall and Bridport. The Board set aside $967,500 for single family homeownership, for homes built by Habitat for Humanity and Vocational Education Programs, and for feasibility funds that are used by applicants to pay for options, surveys, engineering and environmental studies, appraisals, market analysis, and other pre-development costs. The Agency of Natural Resources will use $20,000 in VHCB funds to assist with long range management planning on conserved properties. The Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets will use $50,000 in VHCB funding to administer a mitigation program under Act 250 for development on farmland. Beacon Place, So. Burlington – The Champlain Housing Trust (CHT) will use a $500,000 VHCB award to enter a 15-year lease with the owner of the Ho Hum Motel and convert the property into a manager’s apartment and 19 units of permanent supported housing for chronically homeless individuals with health issues. The development is a partnership between CHT, the Burlington Housing Authority, and the Safe Harbor Clinic of the Community Health Center. The lease payments will be credited towards CHT’s purchase of the property in year 15, when CHT will either undertake substantial rehabilitation or demolish the existing structure and build a new building on the site. Evergreen Heights, Springfield – With $700,000 in VHCB funding, Housing Vermont and the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust will purchase and undertake energy efficiency improvements to a 44-unit multi-family rental development with project based rental assistance. The developers will convert the heat from electric to either biomass or electric-powered air source heat pumps. Gevry Mobile Home Park, Waltham – The Addison County Community Trust will use $350,000 in VHCB funds and $440,000 in federal HOME funds awarded by VHCB to purchase the Gevry Mobile Home Park, which has been vacant for more than five years. The deteriorating mobile homes will be removed from the site, contamination will be remediated and the water and waste systems and roads will be upgraded. The park will be converted to a 14-unit rental development with the installation of seven energy efficient modular duplex homes. Adams House & Carriage Barn, Fair Haven – With $104,142 in VHCB funding and a $337,000 federal HOME award, the Housing Trust of Rutland County (HTRC) will recapitalize a 13-unit senior housing development on the green in the center of Fair Haven. HTRC purchased and renovated the historic marble mansion and accompanying carriage barn in 1995. The funding will be used to upgrade the heating and electrical systems, perform site work and exterior repairs to the porch and columns. Applegate Biomass Energy Rehab, Bennington – Housing Vermont and Shires Housing will receive $550,315 in VHCB funding and $499,316 in federal HOME funds towards energy efficiency upgrades at this 104-apartment family housing development on the outskirts of Bennington. In 1997 Housing Vermont and Applegate Housing Inc. (the residents association), purchased the property, demolished a portion of it, and undertook a significant amount of site work and building improvements. On average, Applegate uses 50,000 gallons of heating oil annually. Energy efficiency upgrades will include insulation, window replacement and conversion of the heating system from oil to wood biomass, which is expected to significantly reduce heating costs. Safford Commons, Woodstock – A $35,000 award to Housing Vermont and the Twin Pines Housing Trust will be used to cover a portion of the costs incurred during delays due to permit appeals over a 7-year period. The developers broke ground in October 2014 and construction is expected to be complete this fall. Farmland Conservation – VHCB funding commitments of $242,500 were matched with $240,000 in federal funds from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to conserve 377 acres of farmland in Ferrisburgh, Bridport and Cornwall, and Morgan. Conservation will facilitate transfer of each farm to new owners, either to the next generation or to long-time lessors of the farmland. Jim Jeffords State Forest, Mendon and Shrewsbury – The Trust for Public Lands and the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation will use $150,000 in VHCB funding to purchase 109 acres of forestland and conserve a 206-acre donation contiguous to 971 acres they are acquiring with a previous $367,200 VHCB grant, adjacent to Coolidge State Forest. The resulting 1,346-acre block of conserved forest land, to be named the Jim Jeffords State Forest, will be owned and managed by the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation and will connect Aitken State Forest to Coolidge State Forest. Together, the acquisitions will secure a conserved wildlife corridor connecting the northern and southern sections of the Green Mountain National Forest and protect almost a mile of headwaters of the Mendon Brook and 1.2 miles of tributaries. Beard Swimming Hole, Johnson – A popular swimming hole along the Gihon River used by generations of Johnson residents will be acquired and protected by the Vermont River Conservancy with a VHCB grant of $60,000 and $42,500 in federal funding. Nearly two acres of conserved land will be conveyed to the Town of Johnson for continued use as a swimming hole, public beach, fishing assess and natural area. Riparian buffer protections will be added along the river frontage which is upstream of the village business district, helping to mitigate flooding events. The property includes an open field with mature trees along the river frontage. Quarry Hill Preserve, Pownal – The Nature Conservancy will purchase 25 acres for addition to their existing Quarry Hill Natural Area, an 80-acre nature preserve with especially diverse ecology, including 43 rare, threatened and endangered plant species. A VHCB grant of $39,850 will be matched with $24,675 from The Nature Conservancy. A half-acre parcel along the road frontage will be conveyed to the Bennington County Habitat for Humanity as an affordable house lot. Permanent public access for hunting and non-motorized recreational use will be secured to existing trails and the acquisition will improve access to the larger nature preserve.

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