Housing Matters blog

Celebrating 40 years of commitment to Vermont home buyers and renters

Posted Apr 11, 2014 at 11:08 am by Leslie Black-Plumeau

VHFA_40th_annual_reportVHFA turns the big 4-0 today!  On April 11, 1974, the Agency was created by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Thomas P. Salmon.  Since then, VHFA has:

  • financed low interest rate loans for 28,000 home buyers and 8,500 affordable apartments;
  • created innovative partners, programs and approaches for meeting the evolving needs of Vermont residents; and
  • boosted the greater community’s understanding of housing issues through research, collaboration and data sharing.

The agency’s staff gathered this morning to celebrate the agency’s wide-ranging impact on the Vermont housing landscape and to reflect on the exciting possibilities for the future.

Find out more about the highlights of each year in VHFA’s history by perusing our special 40th anniversary annual report and calendar on-line or requesting a hard copy.

VHFA 40th celebration

Photographer: Torrey Barrows




Statehouse celebrations of Fair Housing Month set for April 15th

Posted Apr 9, 2014 at 9:24 am by Leslie Black-Plumeau

APRIL IS FAIR HOUSING MONTHOn Tuesday, April 15, you are invited to the Vermont statehouse in Montepelier to show your support for fair housing in Vermont.   A ceremonial signing by Governor Shumlin at 9:30 and a reading of the joint legislative proclamation at 10:00 will mark Vermont’s commitment to fair housing and recognition of April as Fair Housing Month.

Read more.


New index demonstrates stability of Vermont’s single-family housing market

Posted Apr 8, 2014 at 8:42 am by Leslie Black-Plumeau

MimiThe new “multi-indicator market index”, or MiMi, released by Freddie Mac this week, is a user-friendly tool for looking at the housing stability of markets across the country.

The MiMi uses local market data to calculate a range of equilibrium for each single-family housing market covered (shown in the shaded green band on the accompanying graph).  Then the same data is used to show, at a glance, where the market stands relative to its stable range. MiMi also indicates how each market is trending — whether it is moving closer to, or further away from, it’s stable range.  The index includes is a compilation of information pertaining to home purchase application volumes, payment-to-income ratios, proportion of on time mortgage payments and local employment.

Unlike many other states and metro areas, the index shows that Vermont’s market fairly consistently has remained in the “equilibrium range.”

A critical part of VHFA’s mission is to help stabilize Vermont’s housing market during national economic fluctuations, by offering fixed rate, low interest rate financing to qualified home buyers across the state.  More information about our programs, recently expanded to serve even more Vermonters, is available on our web site.

April is Fair Housing Month

Posted Apr 4, 2014 at 10:11 am by Leslie Black-Plumeau

cctvEach April we celebrate the anniversary of the passing of the Fair Housing Act and recommit to its  goal of eliminating housing discrimination and creating equal opportunity in every community.

HUD reminds us that  “our commitment to fair housing is a living commitment, one that reflects the needs of America today and prepares us for a future of true integration.”

In recognition of the persistence of housing discrimination, Vermont housing experts, Ted Wimpey and Erhard Mahnke, discussed the history and impact of the Fair Housing Act on CCTV earlier this week.

Watch the CCTV program or read more about Vermont’s and HUD’s fair housing efforts on-line


2014 Vermont Statewide Housing Conference sponsorship opportunities available

Posted Mar 27, 2014 at 12:38 pm by Leslie Black-Plumeau

conf_logoWith planning for this year’s Vermont Statewide Housing Conference fully underway, it’s the perfect time to sign on as a sponsor and reap the full promotional value of your investment.  The conference will be held Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at the Burlington Hilton.

This conference brings together a unique mix of housing financers, advocates, developers, planners, tenants and more. In 2012, over 430 people attended the conference, and 95% of those said they’d return again. While our high point was when the HUD Secretary was the keynote speaker in 2010, we are aiming just as high with this year’s invited keynote ensuring that this will be an event not to be missed.

We expect to offer conference workshops on state and federal housing policy; housing’s connection to health care; and community development.  We also plan to offer the very popular “Housing 101” introductory workshops, which are a great crash course to people new to affordable housing. As usual, all of the details will be made available on the conference’s website which will be launched later this spring.

The numerous benefits to sponsoring organizations are listed below. This year we will highlight our exhibitors more than ever, with prize drawings for those who visit each table. Sponsorships of $1,000 or more will give your company a free table to display materials.    Contact Maura Collins at (802) 652-3434,  if you’re interested.


VHFA helps streamline housing inspections for Vermont apartments through HUD pilot program

Posted Mar 19, 2014 at 1:21 pm by Sam Falzone

Linden TerraceAs Vermont’s housing finance agency, VHFA has been accepted into HUD’s 2014 physical-inspection pilot program. This pilot is designed to better align rental housing policies among the federal agencies that administer the country’s largest affordable housing programs: Treasury (housing tax credits and bonds) HUD (HOME grants, Section 8 and FHA insurance), and the USDA Rural Development Service.

Sixteen VHFA properties are eligible for the 2014 pilot.  In addition to satisfying VHFA’s tax credit monitoring obligations, HUD’s Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) inspections will now meet the physical inspection requirements of any HUD rental assistance, HOME funding, USDA 515 and FHA insurance program funding in these properties where applicable.  This will help all agencies that are required to complete physical inspections as part of their compliance monitoring role.

HUD’s REAC inspections of pilot program properties will be paid for and completed by HUD using third party contractors.  These inspectors are now in the process of scheduling inspections with project owners.  VHFA will download inspection results from the REAC website and distribute them to the funding agencies that are involved with each project in the pilot.

For more information, contact Sam Falzone, VHFA’s Director of Multifamily Programs.

Pilot projects

Abenaki Acres, Swanton
Alburgh Family Housing, Alburg
Allen Apts., Winooski
Cherry Street Housing, Hardwick
Cummings Street Family Housing, Montpelier
Highgate Apts.,  Barre
Huckle Hill Senior Housing, Vernon
Linden Terrace, Rutland
Peterson Place, Burlington
Pine Manor, Alburg
Randolph House, Randolph
River Bend Apts., Enosburg Falls
School Street Apts., Plainfield
South Square Apts., Burlington
West River Valley Senior Housing, Townshend
Wharf Lane, Burlington

Photo:   Linden Terrace in Rutland, one of the 16 projects participating in the 2014 pilot program.   


New research explores causes of U.S. mortgage volume decline

Posted Mar 18, 2014 at 9:53 am by Leslie Black-Plumeau

New_loansThe number of new home purchase mortgages in the U.S. has decreased dramatically over the past decade and thanks to recent research from the Urban Institute, we now know more about the contributors to this trend.

The Institute’s researchers point to two primary drivers:  limited credit availability (steadily declining portion of mortgages going to borrowers with credit scores below 750) and a decrease in household formation and homeowner mobility during the recession as borrowers with little equity were locked into their homes.  Nationally, only 26 percent of current homeowners are first-time home buyers—the lowest point in recent years, they explained.

VHFA recently expanded its menu of programs to help address the unmet financing needs of first-time and other moderate-income home buyers in Vermont.

Graphic:  MetroTrends, The Urban Institute, 3/6/20144, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, National Association of Realtors, HMDA and the Urban Institute.  Includes only first-liens.

Details of federal Johnson-Crapo Housing Finance Reform Bill released

Posted Mar 17, 2014 at 12:51 pm by Leslie Black-Plumeau

capitalSenate Banking Committee leaders Tim Johnson of South Dakota and Mike Crapo of Idaho released yesterday details of their comprehensive housing finance reform legislation, entitled the Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2014.

The 2014 bill builds off one introduced last year in the Senate (S. 1217) of which Senator Sanders and Senator Leahy were co-sponsors.   The bill proposes gradually winding down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and replacing them with the Federal Mortgage Insurance Corporation, a government agency that would provide catastrophic reinsurance for mortgage-backed securities.    Key roles of this new agency are listed in the table below.

VHFA and its partner state finance agencies (HFAs) through the National Council of State Housing Agencies are working hard to ensure that the future system capitalize on the strategic and uniquely effective role that HFAs play in the housing market.  HFAs have done uniquely well in the case of first-time home buyer lending through a time-tested combination of low-cost financing; traditional fixed-rate, long-term products; flexible, but prudent, underwriting with careful credit evaluation; diligent loan documentation and income verification; down payment and closing cost assistance; homeownership counseling; and proactive servicing.  They employ the same kind of discipline in their multifamily housing underwriting and asset management.

 Proposed roles for the new Federal Mortgage Insurance Corporation   

  • Establish standards (similar to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Ability-to-Repay/Qualfied Mortgage Rule) that loans in each security would have to meet for that security to be eligible for the federal reinsurance.
  • Require for all loans in FMIC-backed securities a minimum down payment of 3.5 percent for first-time homebuyers and 5 percent (phased in over three years) for non-first-time home buyers.  All state HFA loans would be eligible for the federal guarantee.
  • All FMIC-backed securities be traded on a common securitization platform, which would be owned and operated by its members including state HFAs.
  • To help small lenders take advantage of FMIC, the bill would authorize FMIC to establish a mutually owned company that would allow its members, including state HFAs,  to sell individual loans at the cash window and/or pool their loans together into mortgage-backed securities.
  • Replace Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s affordable housing goals with a new requirement directing FMIC to support the primary mortgage market to help ensure that all eligible borrowers, including traditionally underserved consumers, have equitable access to mortgage loan credit.
  • Establish a user fee of 10 basis points on all securities FMIC guarantees to capitalize the state-administered Housing Trust Fund, the Treasury-administered Capital Magnet Fund, and a newly established Market Access Fund, which FMIC would administer to support research and development of innovative new ways to support affordable home lending.
  • Require Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to spin off their multifamily subsidiaries into separate entities.  These entities would continue Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s multifamily businesses as they currently operate.
  • Although the bill does not currently authorize Ginnie Mae to securitize FHA-HFA Risk-Sharing loans, Committee staff said they plan to consider this as the bill moves forward.



VHFA offers new programs in time for spring home buying season

Posted Mar 14, 2014 at 12:41 pm by Seth Leonard

House_DollarsVHFA recently introduced two new programs that will extend affordable home financing to more Vermonters in time for the start of Vermont’s 2014 peak “home buying season.”  The arrival of spring has long been a time of heightened home buying activity in Vermont.

Mortgage Credit Certificates (MCCs), now available for qualified Vermont home buyers, will increase the long-term affordability of buying a home by reducing the amount federal taxes owed each year.  A borrower using the MCC program can take up to 20 percent of the interest paid during the year on their first mortgage as a credit instead of a deduction.  This provides a big boost at tax time every year that the original source of financing stays in place. The remaining 80 percent of the interest paid by the home buyer can be taken as a mortgage interest deduction.  MCCs can be used in conjunction with either VHFA or non-VHFA first mortgages.

In addition to the MCC program, VHFA also unveiled a new first mortgage program called “Advantage.” This program extends VHFA first mortgages to Vermonters who don’t qualify for its traditional programs due to purchase price or income limits or first-time home buyer requirement.  The Advantage program has no purchase price limit or first-time home buyer requirement and is available statewide to three or more person households with incomes up to $118,000 and up to $93,000 for single and two-person households.

“The goal of the Advantage program is to maximize the number of Vermonters with affordable fixed-rate mortgages,” explained VHFA Executive Director Sarah Carpenter. “At the same time, MCCs are a great tool for increasing affordability and we know that the market has been looking for this resource.”

Read more on our website.

Upcoming housing events

Posted Mar 12, 2014 at 2:21 pm by Leslie Black-Plumeau

calendar imageOrganizing your post snow-storm schedule? Check out the list below and the Events Calendar page on VHFA’s website for the latest Vermont housing events.

Friday Mar 14: Pellet Heating for Multifamily Housing Workshop

  • 9:00 AM-12:00 PM Windsor Village Apartments,
  • 65 State Street, Windsor

VT facility operators, building owners, heating contractors, engineers, architects–Join pellet heating experts for a workshop on the nuts and bolts of pellet heating: See the pellet boiler in use, and talk to pellet boiler system owner/operators. Please pre-register by sending an email to: info@biomasscenter.org.   More information.

Friday Mar 14 and Saturday Mar 15: Open House Vermod High Performance Manafactured Homes

  • 10:00 AM-2:00 PM
  • Vermod Manufacturing Facility and Demonstration Home
  • 2677 Route 5, Wilder, VT

One hour seminars for building professionals and interested buyers on high performance building techniques. Directions: 2677 Route 5, Wilder. From I-91 northbound, take Exit 12 (Wilder exit). Take a right at the end of the ramp (take a left if exiting from I-91 southbound) and proceed to the end of Bugbee Road. Take a left onto Route 5 North, drive 2 miles. After you pass under the highway, the plant entrance is the second right after Kacey Drive. Initial project management, research and funding supported by and the High Meadows Fund, the Vermont Community Foundation and other funding partners. More information.

Wednesday Mar 19 and Thursday Mar 20:  Housing First Training

  • 9:00 AM-4:00 PM
  • Wednesday, Mar 19 at Merchants Hall, 42 Merchants Row, Rutland, VT Thursday
  • Thursday, Mar 20 at The Gallery – Main Street Landing, 60 Lake Street, Burlington, VT

Vermont Veteran Services and Pathways Vermont are hosting two Housing First training events titled Introduction to Housing First: The Art & Science of Practice.  Attendees will learn about the core principles and practices of the Housing First Model from top experts in the field. There will be detailed discussion of the five domains that consist of Housing First and how they are applied in a rural setting: 1.Housing Choice and Structure 2.Separation of Housing and Services 3.Service Philosophy 4.Service Array 5.Program Structure There will be ample time for group discussion and questions. RSVP online today.

subscribe to the housing matters rss feed wordpress