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Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on September 17, 2015 - 9:45am

Governor Shumlin joined leaders from VHFA, the Vermont Legislature and the business community today to launch a bold new effort to help the state’s first-time home buyers. Each qualified buyer will receive up to $5,000 for down payment and closing costs. There is mounting evidence that the escalation of these costs in recent years, combined with other economic hardships lingering from the recession, are preventing many young Vermonters from buying their first home.

The new program will provide first-time home buyers who use a VHFA mortgage with up to $5,000 that needs repayment only if the home is sold or refinanced. “Because our typical customer is buying their first home and is eight years younger than the average home buyer statewide, VHFA is a great vehicle for reaching those households struggling most to save for a home,” explained Sarah Carpenter, VHFA’s Executive Director. Nationally the recession reduced homeownership rates by 15% among young people (aged 35-44)—far more than among older age groups, according to the Census.

“I was happy to sign this bill that supports our state’s workers and future leaders in their goal of achieving homeownership,” said Governor Peter Shumlin. “Vermont is a great place to live and work, and through this program with VHFA we are helping make that more affordable,” he added.

The median household income of Vermont renters has remained flat since the recession, at about $30,000. Income stagnation creates a perfect storm for young renters just starting their careers who are trying to save to buy home and also face rising rents and utility costs and high levels of student debt.

“Providing young Vermonters with tools to purchase a home is good for working families and the companies that employ them," noted Shap Smith, Speaker of the House of Representatives. "Vermonters and employers have shared with me that there is a critical need to support young adults as they start their Vermont careers. This program will help grow and sustain the state’s work force by helping households who want to put down roots and earn a living in Vermont."

“Vermont’s strong homeownership base and recovering housing market are central to the stability and vitality of the state’s economy,” remarked Kevin Mullin, Chair of the Vermont Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs. “By helping with the simple but enormous task of saving for a down payment, we not only help individual home buyers, but their neighborhoods and communities,” he continued.

The program is funded through a temporary expansion of the Vermont Housing Tax Credit program, passed as part of this year’s economic development bill.  Each year for the next three years, the additional tax credits will be sold by VHFA to Union Bank and converted to equity for down payment assistance.  VHFA expects this will translate into enough down payment and closing costs assistance for approximately 115 first-time buyers each year.  

“We are delighted to partner with VHFA on this exciting initiative,” remarked Karyn Hale, Union Bank’s Senior Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer.  When VHFA approached its partner lenders who have purchased housing tax credits in the past, Union Bank generously offered to purchase all three years’ credit allocations at a rate that will enable the program to reach the maximum number of home buyers.  

Union Bank is one of many Vermont lenders that VHFA works with statewide. These lenders meet with home buyers and explain program details and restrictions. A list of these lenders and information about the new down payment assistance program (called the “ASSIST loan”) is at www.vhfa.org

Press packet (background):

Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on October 6, 2015 - 3:29pm

Where We've Been, Where We Are, and Where We're Going on Federal Housing Policy

Presenting an All Star Line Up of National Advocates presenting their thoughts “in the round” and holding “office hours” to address your specific questions:

  • John Bohm, Senior Director, Congressional Relations, Public Affairs and Field Operations, National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO)
  • Sheila Crowley, President, National Low Income Housing Coalition
  • Chris Estes, President and CEO, National Housing Conference
  • Kristen Johnson-Obey, Senior Vice President, Public Policy and Legislative Affairs, NeighborWorks America
  • Jeff Mosley, Director of Training and Technical Assistance, Housing Assistance Council
  • Andrea Ponsor, Housing Policy Director, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
  • Benson “Buzz” Roberts, President and CEO, National Association of Affordable Housing Lenders (NAAHL)
  • Nan Roman, President and CEO, National Alliance to End Homelessness
  • Dr. Megan Sandel, Principal Investigator, Children's HealthWatch
  • Barbara Sard, Vice President for Housing Policy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
  • Frank Woodruff, Executive  Director, National Alliance of Community Economic Development Association (NACEDA)
  • Diane Yentel, Vice President, Public Policy and Government Affairs, Enterprise Community Partners

Sponsorship opportunities are still available! Contact Brenda Clement for more information at BClement@chapa.org or 617-742-0820 x108.

Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on September 25, 2015 - 10:16am

From R to L: Sarah Carpenter, Governor Shumlin
and Senator Baruth. Photo: M. Collins.

Last week's press conference at VHFA launched a new statewide down payment assistance program enacted by the Vermont Legislature in May 2015. Since the conference, the program has been in the news across the state, helping to reach Vermonters who might be able to use the program to buy their first home.

Recent local media coverage of the program includes:


Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on September 24, 2015 - 9:28am

Governor Shumlin joined Woodstock residents, local officials, and statewide housing partners yesterday to celebrate the creation of 28 new affordable rental apartments at the Safford Commons complex.  Safford Commons is on the site of the former Grange Hall and church on Route 4 in Woodstock.  While 24 of the new apartments are in newly-constructed buildings, four are in the buildings that already stood on the site 

According to VHFA’s Executive Director Sarah Carpenter who participated in the ribbon cutting, “VHFA was delighted to support this project through federal and state housing tax credits.” These credits created over $6 million in equity which covered two-thirds of the total cost of developing the homes. Other major funders included the Vermont Community Development Program, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston and Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.  

Twin Pines Housing Trust, The Woodstock Community Trust and Housing Vermont partnered to develop Safford Commons.  

Due to extremely high demand for affordable apartments in Woodstock, 27 of the project’s 28 units are already leased up.  For information, contact Twin Pines Housing Trust.

Pictured: VHFA's board and staff tour Safford Commons. Photo by M. Collins.

Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on September 22, 2015 - 2:31pm

Renewable Energy 2015 (RE 2015) is Vermont’s annual convention bringing together key players in the renewables sector. This year's conference, slated for October 8 & 9, highlights current energy challenges, Vermont’s leadership role in the energy industry, and the steps needed to implement an integrated energy infrastructure.

Nationwide and here in Vermont, the closure of coal and nuclear facilities, concerns around "fracked" gas, and instability in oil-rich regions are driving markets to implement renewable energy and efficiency-based solutions to address our increasing energy demands. RE 2015 is bringing together leaders and experts from throughout the region to address the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Learn more and register.