Housing Matters blog

Registration open for Vermont Statewide Housing Conference

Posted Sep 16, 2014 at 11:35 am by Leslie Black-Plumeau

 The Vermont Statewide Housing Conference is proud to announce its lineup of 18 workshops, in-depth plenary panel and nationally-acclaimed keynote speaker Barry Zigas. Register online today for this important event!

The biennial housing conference will be held Wednesday, November 19th at the Hilton in Burlington. For conferences in the past, we have reached capacity and had to turn people away, so register today for this wonderful opportunity.

Thanks to the generous sponsors of this event, the cost has remained at its traditional low, early-bird price of just $60 for everyone who registers before October 10th.

By pulling attendees and speakers from all across Vermont and beyond, the conference also provides not-to-be-missed networking opportunities.   After you register, consider nominating an individual whose achievements and service should be recognized by the Housing Hero Award.

VHFA is just one of many partners who come together to plan this. Others include:

  • Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development
  • Housing Vermont
  • USDA-Rural Development
  • Vermont Housing and Conservation Board
  • Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition
  • Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO)
  • Vermont Realtors®
  • Vermont Mortgage Bankers Association


How do you “plug the leaks”?

Posted Sep 19, 2014 at 9:20 am by Leslie Black-Plumeau

Button up videoAs summer fades, now is the perfect time to share advice on making our homes more energy efficient and comfortable.  The Button Up Video Contest is looking for short videos that inspire viewers to take action to lower their heating costs.

The contest runs September 2 to October 19, 2014. There is no entry fee and prizes of up to $300 will be awarded .  Contest details and other background information are available at ButtonUpVt.org.

Housing and health: The importance of place

Posted Sep 17, 2014 at 3:39 pm by Leslie Black-Plumeau

In the second of a series of papers on how affordable housing impacts other pieces of our lives, the connection between health and housing is becoming better understood. In Housing and Health: The Importance of Place, the authors delve into some of these impacts. As Megan Sandel, M.D., M.P.H., and Deborah Frank, M.D. writes, “For many of our patients, a safe, decent, affordable home is like a vaccine—it literally keeps children healthy.”

For more information on this series of papers, contact Chris Donnelly at the Champlain Housing Trust or Kenn Sassorossi at Housing Vermont.

Joint Committee on Tax Credits to review qualified allocation plan on September 29th

Posted Sep 16, 2014 at 3:37 pm by Victoria Johnson

Vermont’s Joint Committee on Tax Credits has scheduled its review of the qualified allocation plan for Monday, September 29, 2014. Read meeting specifics below:

Time and Location:

  • 1:00pm-4:00pm
  • Vermont Housing Finance Agency, 164 St. Paul St., Burlington, VT

Tentative Topics:

  • Review of developer fee policy:
    • VHFA recommendations.
  • Discussion of appraisals, operating costs, and requests for resources:
    • Discussion of current policies.
    • How should these look when underwriting applications?
  • Discussion/clarification on current definition of special needs housing:
    • How does AHS review this?
    • Should QAP changes be made? If so, process for input, when?
  • Discussion on current priorities/limitations, including age-segregated housing:
    • Review of current data.
    • Should QAP changes be made? If so, process for input, when?
  • Other State and Federal Policy Issues.

Federal housing tax credits help create new affordable apartments in Shelburne

Posted Sep 12, 2014 at 2:27 pm by Leslie Black-Plumeau

P7100008 (2)The 78 recently-completed apartments at the Harrington Village and Wright House developments in Shelburne will help area households keep their housing costs affordable. Funded largely through housing tax credits provided by VHFA, the apartments are a much-needed addition to the area’s tight rental housing stock.

The buildings were developed through a collaboration of three non-profits: Housing Vermont, Cathedral Square Corporation and Champlain Housing Trust.  In addition to housing credits, VHFA also provided construction financing and a permanent loan for Wright House.

Learn more in the coverage from WPTZNew England Cable News, Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition and Vermont Business Magazine.

Foreclosed homes renovated through HARP program

Posted Sep 10, 2014 at 12:23 pm by Leslie Black-Plumeau

48 Williams St - Before and After HARP PicThanks to low interest rates and a little known housing program making a big impact, this is a great time to buy a home. The Housing Acquisition & Rehabilitation Program (HARP), administered by VHFA, is helping qualified home buyers purchase beautifully restored and energy efficient homes.

VHFA recently purchased this once-deteriorating house on Williams Street in Rutland that is now in the final stages of being transformed into a brand new, highly energy efficient, two-story home. The home will be available for sale within the next few weeks and will include a grant to a qualified and income-eligible homebuyer that will ensure long-term affordability.  Learn more about this home or check out other homes currently available on VHFA’s website

The HARP program works like this: VHFA purchases a foreclosed home and then works with a local HomeOwnership Center affiliated with NeighborWorks® America along with Vermont-based contractors to rehabilitate the property to a high standard of energy efficiency, safety and integrity. The house is then sold to a qualified owner. The program is operated through funding from HUD’s Neighborhood Stabilization program.

The goal of each home’s rehabilitation is to make sure the next homeowner will enjoy a safe, energy efficient, newly updated and structurally sound property for years to come while communities get the benefit of a renovated foreclosed property.  The HARP program provides a sizeable grant that can both greatly reduce the net cost of purchasing these homes and eliminates the need for costly mortgage insurance. Buyers can obtain financing for the balance of the purchase price either through VHFA or another source.

The HARP program makes homeownership in the region both possible and affordable while at the same time providing significant economic benefits at the state and local level.

Pictured:  Rutland house nearing completion of renovations through the HARP program (above, photo by Gregg Over).  At right, the home before renovation.

Primary home prices dip in first half of 2014

Posted Sep 3, 2014 at 1:16 pm by Leslie Black-Plumeau

home pricesBetween January and June, the median price of a primary home sold in Vermont was about 4% lower than it had been in 2013. Statewide, the median price dipped to $192,250 from $200,000 in 2013.

The price decline was confined to 5 counties in northwest and central Vermont, as shown on the map below. Tiny Essex also saw a drop, though its small housing stock means it sees more frequent fluctuations.
Price drop 2014 map

The number of primary homes sold in the first half of the year was virtually unchanged between 2013 and 2014.

Read more in this week’s VTDigger.org or check out what’s happening in your community on the Vermont Housing Data website. The site was updated yesterday to include information on homes sold during the first half of 2014 in every Vermont town and county.




Affordable housing is key to a child’s success in school

Posted Sep 3, 2014 at 9:50 am by Leslie Black-Plumeau

Housing and educationA new paper was released today that highlights the intersection of affordable housing and education, and the benefits that an affordable home provides kids in terms of their ability to learn in school. In the report, Rebecca Haslam, an elementary school teacher, is quoted saying, “Kids experiencing housing challenges feel disconnected from their communities, which is even more damaging to their ability to access the academics… they’re just not ready.”

Housing and Education: Putting the Pieces Together is the first in a series of papers on the value affordable housing offers the people and communities across the State of Vermont. For more information, contact Chris Donnelly at the Champlain Housing Trust or Kenn Sassorossi at Housing Vermont.


Vermont’s tight market for the poorest renters stands out among New England states

Posted Aug 29, 2014 at 9:29 am by Leslie Black-Plumeau

DLI affordabilityVermont was placed among states with the fewest apartments available for deeply low-income renters by a recent study from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition.  For every 100 renters in the state, only 11 units are affordable and available to renters making less than 15% of the area median income, the researchers estimated.

No other New England state had as tight a rental stock as Vermont for deeply low-income apartment seekers.

Read the full report.

Pictured:  Excerpt from National Low-Income Housing Coalition’s “Housing Spotlight”, August 2014.



Update of Vermont building energy standards moves forward

Posted Aug 21, 2014 at 4:10 pm by Leslie Black-Plumeau

energy meterAfter reviewing comments, the Vermont Public Service Department has revised Vermont’s building energy standards and submitted them to the Secretary of State as part of the rulemaking process. Public hearings to discuss the proposed standards will be held on September 19th.

More information and the updated versions of the standards are available on the Vermont Public Service Department website.

The September 19th public hearing will be held in Montpelier (Room 11 of the Statehouse), with discussion on the Commercial Building Energy Standards from 10:30 am to 12:00 noon and discussion on the Residential Building Energy Standards from 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm.

The Public Service Department is also accepting written comments on the revised versions of the standards through September 26th.  Written comments should be submitted via forms on the department’s web site:

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