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Access to affordable housing among top problems facing rural New England

Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on February 25, 2014 - 9:57am

Challenges_bar_chartNext to job availability, access to affordable housing was ranked the second most important challenge for lower-income communities by New England respondents to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Community Outlook Survey.

Rural respondents saw a bleaker picture than their urban counterparts.  Nine out of 10 rural respondents saw the availability of affordable housing decrease or stay the same over the past six months.   Improvements in housing affordability were seen far more often by urban respondents. About 28% of these respondents saw affordable housing availability increase, compared to fewer than 8% of rural respondents reported an increase.

Federal Reserve researchers attributed the lack of improvement seen by rural respondents to the unique challenges of expanding the availability of affordable housing in rural communities, such as lack of density, urban focus of traditional federal programs, and the struggle small towns face attracting “developers of affordable rental housing because of the lower rents they command relative to urban developments.”

Recognizing the inherent difficulties for traditional approaches, VHFA has continually sought ways to help address affordable housing needs of low income rural Vermonters.   About 5,000 units of affordable rental housing units and 20,000 lower and moderate income homeowners outside of Chittenden County have been supported through VHFA’s rental and home purchase programs.

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