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Posted by: Mia Watson on 4/16/2018

Attention lenders and affordable housing developers: The 2018 AHP is coming!

The Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) of Boston’s Affordable Housing Program 2018 funding application period opens on Monday, June 11, four weeks earlier than usual. The program awards grants and low-interest loans through member institutions to organizations promoting homeownership and rental housing for households with incomes at or below 80 percent of the area median income. Approximately $18.1 million in AHP subsidy is available. Applications are due by Thursday, August 2.

Developers and members interested in the program should register for the AHP training session, which will be held in Burlington on June 26. Additional regional AHP trainings will be held in Springfield, MA on June 14 and Concord, NH on July 10. On-line webinars are also available. For more information and to register, visit their website.  

Posted by: Mia Watson on 4/12/2018

Please join VHFA in celebrating Fair Housing Month this April. This year is special as we mark the 50th anniversary of the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act.

On April 11, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, expanding the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VIII of the act, which is commonly known as the Fair Housing Act, prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, (and as amended) handicap and family status. The act was passed after a long difficult political and social struggle for equal protection under the law. Advocates in and out of Congress pushed for adoption of a fair housing bill for years but did not achieve passage until one week after the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Fair housing was one of the central goals for Dr. King and the civil rights movement. Prior to the passage of the Fair Housing Act, many communities around the country had laws that explicitly forbade white homeowners from selling to black buyers in order to keep neighborhoods segregated. Mortgage lenders often denied service or raised rates for buyers in majority minority neighborhoods. Landlords could legally refuse to rent to minorities, which often left minority renters with few decent quality housing options.  In response to these injustices, Dr. King helped organize and led open housing marches in Chicago in 1966.

Vermont enacted its own laws prohibiting housing discrimination in 1987. Today, Vermont law protects against discrimination in housing on the basis of all categories listed in the Fair housing Act, as well as age, sexual orientation, gender identity, and receipt of public assistance.

In recognition of this historic anniversary, Governor Phil Scott has issued a proclamation celebrating Vermont’s role as a national leader in expanding housing protections and reaffirming Vermont’s commitment to ensuring that housing is accessible to all.

Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on 3/29/2018

Last week the Vermont House approved H. 922 which includes provisions from an earlier bill (H.766) that expands VHFA’s Down Payment Assistance Program. The bill is now passed over to the Senate and earlier this week was read and referred to the Senate Committee on Finance. Since the DPA program started in 2015, demand among qualified first-time home buyers has been twice what can be funded through the Vermont Affordable Housing Tax Credit, the program’s designated funding source. 

The roughly $5,000 in assistance the program provides to each borrower is especially critical for young  first-time home buyers who are making starting salaries and facing Vermont’s relatively high closing costs. The 600 home buyers the program has served so far have had an annual income of $65,000, purchased a home costing $160,000 and are 31 years old, on average. 

H. 922 also includes an expansion of the successful Downtown Development Tax Credit program and several other provisions, including a tax on e-cigarettes. VHFA’s Executive Director Sarah Carpenter testified in support of the bill before the House Ways and Means and Commerce Committees and hopes to provide testimony to the Senate Finance Committee in the near future.

Pictured: Rachel, an IT business analyst, is one of the 600 first-time Vermont home buyers who have used the Down Payment Assistance Program since it started in 2015. Photo by P. Detzer. 


Posted by: Mia Watson on 3/27/2018

Last week, the federal government passed an omnibus bill funding the government for FY 2018.  Funding for housing and homeless assistance programs exceeded what housing advocates had anticipated. Among the spending is a substantial boost to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, which will see an increase of 12.5% to the annual state per capita credit allocation for the next four years. In addition, the bill contains $11.15 billion for project-based rental assistance, an increase of $50 million from FY 2017. These funding increases will be extremely helpful in VHFA’s efforts to expand access to decent, affordable housing.

For more information on the bill, including a note from Senator Leahy’s office, read Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition’s (VAHC) summary of the highlights.

Posted by: Mia Watson on 3/23/2018

For the third year in a row, VHFA was ranked in the top five Best Places to Work among small sized organizations across the state by Vermont Business Magazine. After receiving the honor of the number one spot in 2016, VHFA was ranked fourth for 2017, and has just been ranked second for 2018.

“This award reflects the excellence of our wonderful staff and their deep commitment to our mission of promoting affordable housing opportunities for Vermonters,” remarked Sarah Carpenter, VHFA Executive Director. “Their dedication and enthusiasm is what makes VHFA a great place to work.”

Awards were presented on Wednesday, March 21st at the DoubleTree Hotel in South Burlington. Sarah Carpenter, Lori Gilding, Office Manager, and Steve Gronlund, Administration & HR Manager joined hundreds of other employers and their staff to celebrate the 50 companies being honored as the Best Places to Work in Vermont. After an hour of socializing and hors d’oeuvres, several local dignitaries spoke, including Governor Phil Scott. Each company’s representatives then went to the stage to receive their award and have their photo taken with the Governor. 

Winners were chosen by Vermont Business Magazine from companies across the state. The results of an employee survey accounted for 75 percent of each nominated company's score, while the remaining 25 percent of the score consisted of criteria including workplace policies, compensation, benefits packages, and demographics. Finalists were split into three categories -- small companies with 15-99 employees, medium companies with 100-249 employees, and large companies with 250 or more employees.