Housing Matters blog

Vermont 2-1-1 assesses first year of responding to after-hours calls for emergency housing

Posted Jul 29, 2011 at 9:44 am by Leslie Black-Plumeau

After one year of entering into a contract with the Agency of Human Services to cover the after-hours emergency housing assistance, more than 1,300 calls were received by Vermont 2-1-1.  Of these requests for after-hours emergency housing, 329 callers were eligible for housing assistance.  Alternate shelter was found for 451 of the remaining 1,015 callers who did not qualify for emergency housing.  The majority of requests for emergency housing are from single individuals.

Read more about Vermont 2-1-1.

Housing director dies in tragic accident

Posted Jul 28, 2011 at 12:56 pm by Leslie Black-Plumeau

Phil Holmes, long-time promoter of affordable multifamily housing at HUD’s Manchester office, died tragically last night in a motorcycle accident.

Through his many years of work with the Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont housing manager associations, Phil became a good friend to many owners, managers and agency staff.   Phil was a was strong advocate of HUD’s risk share insurance program and expansion of computer learning centers in HUD assisted housing.   He was also well known for his involvement with Northgate Apartments and support for resident control and ownership.

Sam Falzone, VHFA’s Director of Multifamily Programs, described his death as “a tremendous loss to the affordable housing community throughout northern New England.”

Sara Barrett joins VHFA as loan servicing assistant

Posted Jul 27, 2011 at 11:11 am by Leslie Black-Plumeau

Sara Barrett of Burlington has joined VHFA as Loan Servicing Assistant.

Barrett’s most recent experience includes serving as an AmeriCorps member with the Shared Equity Program at Champlain Housing Trust through Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.   She has been in the affordable housing industry since 2009.  Barrett will provide support to the Agency’s loan servicing function in our Homeownership Department.

Welcome Sara!


VHFA multifamily mortgage bond rating returns to A+

Posted Jul 26, 2011 at 11:42 am by Leslie Black-Plumeau

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services raised its rating on VHFA’s multifamily mortgage bonds  from ‘BBB+’ back to ‘A+’.   

“The upgrade is based on recent legislative changes that resulted in these bonds conforming with our moral obligation criteria,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Henry Henderson. 

Read the Standard and Poor’s press release.


Vermont economy recovering amidst global and national challenges

Posted Jul 22, 2011 at 10:00 am by Leslie Black-Plumeau

Vermont’s econonomy outperformed the U.S. during the past 12 months, with tax revenues that exceeded projections by 2.5%.  Nevertheless, state economists cautioned the legislature and administration of the risks here in Vermont should national policy makers fail to reach an agreement about raising the U.S. debt ceiling. 

Home prices in Vermont will likely continue to decline slightly during the next 3 months, the economic report to the legislature explained.  After that, Vermont’s real estate market is likely to begin “an extended period of very low price appreciation.”

Read the economic report

Read the Burlington Free Press’s story.

Vermont Housing Data website adds latest Census findings

Posted Jul 20, 2011 at 3:46 pm by Maura Collins

The Vermont Housing Data has added hundreds of Census data including Census 2010 demographic information and detailed estimates on home heating sources and housing cost burdens from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS).

“Even though we created the site eight years ago, the recent housing market upheaval nationally has made it clear that an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the local housing market like Vermont helps prevent some of the mistakes we’ve seen in other states,” said Executive Director Sarah Carpenter.

“By including the newest data as it becomes available, Vermont is in a better position to understand what’s happening locally as housing needs change. This starts the conversation about the most appropriate policy and programmatic responses for the future,” she continued.

This comprehensive site provides a detailed profile of each town or village in Vermont and compares it to the corresponding county and the state as a whole. It also includes historical data and graphs for examining trends, and the ability to download data for mapping. It compiles tens of thousands of data pieces from federal agencies such as the Census, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and U.S. Department of Labor; as well as the state departments of taxes and labor.

The Vermont Housing Data site was launched in 2003 and has been created and maintained by Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) and the Center for Rural Studies (CRS) at the University of Vermont with input and guidance from Vermont’s housing community.

Rising home prices helps owner’s kids earn more

Posted Jul 19, 2011 at 1:19 pm by Maura Collins

Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston logoResearch shows a new way of considering the impact of rising house prices: higher prices mean higher incomes for existing homeowners’ children as they age. Unfortunately, the increase in prices also reduces the earning levels of renter’s children in the future. “The results show that a 1 percentage point increase in house prices, when children are 17-years-old, results in roughly 0.8 percent higher annual income for the children of homeowners, and 1.2 percent lower annual income for the children of renters,” the report states.

The research published last week by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, titled House Price Growth When Kids Are Teenagers: A Path To Higher Intergenerational Achievement, demonstrates that cash-strapped homeowners’ children are those who will most benefit from rising house prices, presumably because they can tap home equity to help fund investments in their children such as paying for college. The benefits for homeowners’ children when home prices climb also means they are more likely to graduate from college and have less noncollateralized debt as young adults.

Funding awarded for 15 new vouchers for homeless veterans

Posted Jul 18, 2011 at 10:12 am by Maura Collins

Vermont will be able to permanently house 15 more homeless Veteran households in affordable housing with supportive services available thanks to a recent award to the Vermont State Housing Authority. The funding is from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH) program and is a coordinated effort by HUD and the Veteran’s Administration (VA) providing funding to local housing agencies.

Each winter in Vermont, agencies that serve and shelter people who are homeless attempt to count everyone they encounter on a given day to provide a rough estimate of the prevalence and characteristics of the homeless population. On January 28, 2011 there were 85 homeless veterans who were either unhoused, in shelters, or living temporarily in transitional homeless housing.

The VA’s announcement states, “The grants announced today are part of $50 million appropriated for Fiscal Year 2011 to support the housing needs of 6,900 homeless Veterans.  VA Medical Centers (VAMC) provide supportive services and case management to eligible homeless Veterans. This is the first of two rounds of the 2011 HUD-VASH funding.  HUD expects to announce the remaining funding by the end of this summer.”

It continues, “The HUD-VASH program includes both the rental assistance the voucher provides and the comprehensive case management that VAMC staff provides. Veterans participating in the HUD-VASH program rent privately owned housing and generally contribute no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent.”

New Local-Level Information from 2010 Census for Vermont Released

Posted Jul 15, 2011 at 3:48 pm by Leslie Black-Plumeau

Yesterday the U.S. Census Bureau released new, detailed demographic information for Vermont.  

This information includes the most detailed counts available so far from the 2010 Census, including cross-tabulations of age, sex, households, families, relationship to householder, housing units, detailed race and Hispanic or Latino origin groups, and group quarters. The statistics are available for a variety of geographic areas, with most tables available down to the neighborhood block level.

VHFA staff such as Maura Collins and Leslie Black-Plumeau are available to field questions about what the new numbers mean for Vermont communities. 

Read more at the Census web site.

Ribbon cut on Ellis Block

Posted Jul 15, 2011 at 9:25 am by Craig Bailey

VHFA Senior Development Underwriter Cindy Reid (right) and others cut the ribbon yesterday on the newly-renovated Springfield Cinemas 3.

The theatre, damaged by fire three years ago, opened in time to show what will likely be the biggest movie of the year: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II.”

Housing Vermont and Springfield Housing Unlimited led the $3.5 million redevelopment of the block, which includes nine affordable housing units.

“The challenge was to maintain the historic nature of the Ellis Block while bringing back a cinema and needed housing to the downtown,” said Housing Vermont President Nancy Owens.

Funding for the redevelopment included $1.4 million in federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program grants made possible by a provision of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 authored by Sen. Patrick Leahy. Sen. Leahy also secured a $125,000 U.S. Housing & Urban Development (HUD) appropriation made available through Preservation Vermont.

VHFA allocated federal and state Housing Credits.

The Green Mountain Housing Equity Fund IV provided a tax credit equity investment of $1.3 million. NBT Bank provided construction financing. Other sources include HUD; the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board; VHFA; Vermont Department of Economic, Housing & Community Development; Town of Springfield; Springfield Housing Unlimited; and the Vermont Energy Investment Corp.

The apartments are 410 to 575 square feet. Rent for the one-bedroom units is $563 to $682 and includes heat and hot water.

The apartments, managed by Springfield Housing Authority, will be available Aug. 1. Application forms are available at the authority’s 80 Main St. office or by calling 802. 885.4905.

“There are some income restrictions which apply, but they are fairly generous,” according to Authority Executive Director Bill Morlock. “Single individuals can have annual incomes as high as $27,720 while two-person households can earn up to $31,680.”

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