Housing Matters blog

Request for proposal: Auditor services

Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 1:07 pm by Craig Bailey

VHFA is soliciting proposals from independent, nationally- or regionally-recognized public accounting firms for the purpose of auditing its financial statements beginning with the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011.

All details are available online.

VAHC urges “Yes” on Burlington’s question #8

Posted Feb 28, 2011 at 11:09 am by Craig Bailey

The Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition (VAHC) urges Burlington voters to vote “Yes” on Question #8 in tomorrow’s Town Meeting Day vote.

The question asks whether or not to send a message to the Legislature to pass a bill protecting at-risk assisted Vermonters and their housing.

VAHC used donated funds to distribute more than 15,000 flyers to Burlington residents and post lawn signs to help get out the vote.

In addition to asking residents to vote “Yes” tomorrow, VAHC is looking for people to hold signs at the polls and help spread the word online about the vote.

For more information, contact VAHC’s Erhard Mahnke at erhardm@vtaffordablehousing.org, or 802.660.9484.

Housing, population data bare closer examination

Posted Feb 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm by Craig Bailey

Today’s story on the front of the Burlington Free Press, “Census sense: Housing, population data in Chittenden County crisscross,” tells us what a lot of people working with housing data already knew: Numbers can be difficult to interpret.

Writer Joel Banner Baird ponders housing numbers that seem to be growing faster than population.

In addition to analysis in the article, from, among others, Center for Rural Studies’ Chip Sawyer, a partner with VHFA in the Vermont Housing Data Web site, VHFA Research Analyst Leslie Black-Plumeau suggests the state’s slightly higher owner and renter vacancy rates could also help account for some of the perceived discrepancy.

Bottom line is this: All statistics need to be examined closely before anything can be inferred from them.

VHFA staff such as Leslie are experts at using and interpreting housing data and are familiar with Vermont’s housing markets. We’re always available to field questions if communities want to better understand what might be influencing their results.

Report: Housing affordability down for workers

Posted Feb 25, 2011 at 10:18 am by Craig Bailey

reportA new report by the Center for Housing Policy (CHP) says housing affordability has significantly decreased for working owners and renters.

The annual report, “Housing Landscape 2011,” looks at housing affordability trends for working households between 2008 and 2009 focusing on the effects of employment, income and housing costs.

According to the report, nearly one in four working households had a severe housing cost burden in 2009, spending more than half of its income on housing costs.

Nationwide, 10.5 million working households experienced a severe housing cost burden in 2009 — an increase of nearly 600,000 households from ’08. This increase occurred despite a drop of 1.1 million in the overall number of working households.

“These findings will be surprising to many who have followed the nationwide decline in home prices,” said Jeffrey Lubell, CHP Executive Director.

“Housing costs for existing homeowners have declined only slightly, while housing costs for working renters have actually gone up. Meanwhile, high unemployment and falling incomes have left low- and moderate-income families struggling to make ends meet.”

CHP is the research affiliate of the National Housing Conference, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping ensure safe, decent and affordable housing since 1931.

Download the report as a PDF file.

DEHCD issues RFP for Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice

Posted Feb 23, 2011 at 10:17 am by Craig Bailey

The Vermont Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development (DEHCD) is seeking a qualified consultant to conduct and prepare an Analysis of Impediments (AI) to Fair Housing Choice for the State of Vermont in connection with the State’s programs funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The AI should, at a minimum, be prepared in accordance with HUD’s Fair Housing Planning Guide, Vol. 1. Specific requirements of the request are contained in DEHCD’s RFP, available online at the Vermont Business Assistance Network; the DEHCD site; or by calling DEHCD at 802.828.5245.

All proposals must adhere to the RFP, and incomplete or unsigned proposals will not be considered.

All proposals should be sent to Julie Kelliher, DEHCD, 1 National Life Dr. Fl. 6, Montpelier VT 05620-0501; and emailed to julie.kelliher@state.vt.us.

Deadline for submission is 4:30 p.m. on March 21.

New HUD administrator for New England

Posted Feb 22, 2011 at 1:27 pm by Craig Bailey

barbara fieldsBarbara Fields has become the new administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development’s (HUD) New England Region.

Fields was Executive Director of the Rhode Island office of Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC), a community development intermediary.

“Barbara’s extensive knowledge of affordable housing and her comprehensive approach to community revitalization are a perfect complement to the Obama Administration,” said HUD Sec. Shaun Donovan.

“When you look at Barbara’s track record, her commitment to helping those in need comes across loud and clear. She will be a tremendous asset to us in carrying out HUD’s mission to build strong, sustainable communities that offer affordable and healthy housing options for all Americans.”

She fills the vacancy created when Richard Walega departed.

Homelessness radio marathon coming next week

Posted Feb 17, 2011 at 8:38 am by Craig Bailey

WGDR 91.1 FM in Plainfield will air the 14th Annual Homelessness Marathon, Feb. 23-24.

The 14-hour broadcast, which originates from 100,000-watt KKFI in Kansas City, Mo., and is free to air for non-profit stations, features voices and stories of homeless people around the country with live call-ins via a national toll-free number.

The broadcast starts at 7 p.m. Eastern time next Wednesday, Feb. 23, and goes all night until 9 a.m. the next morning.

WGDR invites people to join them for the broadcast by gathering at the station on the Goddard College campus.

The station will also preempt its usual programming from 3:30 to 6 p.m. Feb. 23 for related homelessness coverage, according to advocate Morgan W. Brown, who hopes to live blog and tweet from the event.

For more information, contact WGDR’s Ruth Wilder: 802.322,1720, ruth.wilder@goddard.edu.

Tim Gutchell honored by Champlain Housing Trust

Posted Feb 15, 2011 at 2:08 pm by Craig Bailey

tim and randy

Champlain Housing Trust (CHT) presented VHFA Controller Tim Gutchell (right) with the Carole Pack Award at its annual meeting a couple weeks ago.

The award recognizes Tim’s “leadership and dedicated oversight of the housing trust’s finances through challenging economic times when each dollar was critical.”

“Tim provides the Board with a level of confidence that is so important to the organization,” explained CHT President Paul Bohne.

Tim is pictured with CHT immediate past president Randy Amis. (Photo: Brett Lupfer)

Former Sen. Susan Bartlett was presented with the Tim McKenzie Award for Outstanding Contributions to Perpetually Affordable Housing.

“Susan Bartlett has been one of the most effective leaders in advancing the State’s investments in affordable housing, and doing it the right way — by committing to permanently affordable housing,” said CHT CEO Brenda Torpy. “Susan’s leadership over the past 10 years has been unparalleled.”

The Hilton Wick Volunteer Fundraiser Award was presented to Essex resident Alec Barclay of NBT Bank. He was recognized for his longtime volunteerism on CHT’s endowment fundraising committee, the Community Relations Committee and his encouragement of others, including his family, to participate in the annual Community Campaign.

Nearly 200 CHT members attended the annual meeting, which also included the election of six Board members: Paul Bohne of Shelburne, Catherine Dimitruk of Colchester, Sandra Dooley of South Burlington, Bill Dorsch of Grand Isle, Rosalyn Graham of Shelburne, and Richard Kemp of Burlington.

Population growth slows in all Vermont counties

Posted Feb 15, 2011 at 1:06 pm by Leslie Black-Plumeau

According to last week’s release of Census 2010 results, no Vermont county was spared the population growth slowdown that occurred in the state during the past 10 years.

In fact, three counties (Rutland, Windsor, and Essex) lost population in the most recent decade.

Chittenden County’s population grew by 7% during 2000 and 2010, more than any other county in the state. The fastest growing town in the state was South Burlington with population growth of 20% between 2000 and 2010.

In addition to total population counts, this release of Census 2010 data includes population counts by race and ethnicity and housing unit counts by occupancy status. Data is accessible through the Vermont State Data Center and the U.S. Census Bureau web site.

Vacancy rate statistics can mislead

Posted Feb 11, 2011 at 1:20 pm by Craig Bailey

Vacancies figures for Vermont released yesterday might give a false impression of the amount of available housing in the Green Mountain State.

New numbers from the 2010 U.S. Census show Vermont has a 20.5 percent vacancy rate. While that number may be accurate, the devil’s in the details: That statistic includes Vermont’s substantial stock of “vacation” homes — units that may, in fact, have no one living in them year-round, but are also unavailable for sale or rental.

For many practical purposes, they’d be more accurately considered “occupied.”

Vermont contains quite a few vacation homes, so their inflating effect on the vacancy rate is substantial. According to the 2000 Census, Vermont had the second highest vacation home rate in the nation: 14.5 percent. (Maine was number one, at 15.6%.)

Excluding vacation homes gives a much better view of Vermont’s true vacancy picture.

While the Census hasn’t yet published those figures for 2010, in ’09 it listed Vermont’s rental vacancy rate at 5.4 percent, compared to the national rate of 10.6 percent.

This was the lowest statewide rate in the country.

Vermont’s homeownership vacancy rate in 2009 was just 1.4 percent — tied with two other states for lowest in the country — compared to the national rate of 2.6 percent.

At best, those numbers are considered unhealthy. At worst, they imply a crisis of affordable housing, largely driven by lack of stock.

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