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VHFA News

Posted by: admin on July 8, 2005 - 5:08am

BURLINGTON—Vermont Housing Finance Agency Public Affairs Manager John Fairbanks is attending the Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government this month. Fairbanks, who joined VHFA in 2001, was one of 20 applicants nation-wide who is attending the Program as a Fannie Mae Foundation Fellow. The Fannie Mae Foundation awards fellowships to the Program in recognition of the Fellows’ “commitment to and accomplishments in the field of affordable housing.” The Program is “an intensive three-week course designed to enhance leadership skills, develop new management techniques, and cultivate relationships among public sector colleagues.” The curriculum covers policy analysis, strategic management, political management and negotiation and includes workshops run by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard. The Kennedy School selects program participants representing public sector management in housing, health, public safety, budget, administration and public works. In 1996, the Fannie Mae Foundation and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University established the Fannie Mae Foundation Fellowship Program to enhance the management and decision-making skills of senior public and nonprofit officials dedicated to improving affordable housing opportunities in communities across the country. Each year, the Fannie Mae Foundation sponsors up to 35 fellowships, and since the program’s inception, nearly 250 state and local officials have participated. This year’s selection process was particularly competitive because there was an increased number of high-level applicants, with nearly 100 applicants for the available fellowships.

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Posted by: admin on May 16, 2005 - 4:07am

BURLINGTON—Ninety seniors living in Burlington’s New North End will be able to keep their affordable housing thanks to efforts of a team of housing non-profits. Heineberg Senior Housing, an 82-unit apartment complex these seniors call home, was built in 1990 using a combination of public and private funding. It also used low income housing tax credits, which require that rents remain affordable for 15 years. With the end of that 15-year term in sight, the non-profit group, led by Cathedral Square Corporation and Vermont Housing Finance Agency and supported by the City of Burlington, Housing Vermont and the Heineberg Senior Housing Corporation, put a deal together to purchase the property and keep rents affordable. “Heineberg Senior Housing has some of the lowest rents in Burlington,” said resident Jean McEntee. “I live on a fixed income and I am really happy that my rent will stay the same.” The celebration on May 13th honors the sale of the partnership to Cathedral Square Corporation and the beginning of property improvements designed to improve accessibility and comfort for the residents of Heineberg. “This is a great example of how our network of housing organizations comes together to provide more affordable housing opportunities for Vermonters,” said Sarah Carpenter, Executive Director of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency. “This is particularly important in the current environment, when housing costs are soaring and more and more Vermont households are getting squeezed.” Carpenter noted a recent study gave Vermont’s housing non-profits high marks for their creativity and their cost-effectiveness developing and preserving affordable housing. - more - - 2 - Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle remembers when the Heineberg seniors came to the City 18 years ago saying they needed housing in their neighborhood. “There was no stopping this group of very committed senior citizens,” said Clavelle. The City of Burlington passed the first ordinance in the state to give a density bonus for affordable housing, paving the way for the seniors to build 82 apartments affordable to seniors with a wide range of incomes. “The City was just beginning to put together a strong housing program in 1987. I’m glad to see that we have been able to deliver what we promised. ” “The enthusiasm for the project was amazing”, said Geneva Sprague, a Heineberg Senior Center Board member who was instrumental planning the project. “We really needed this housing and we were determined to make it happen!” Heineberg is the first of more than 3,000 affordable housing units in Vermont built under the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program that expect to return to non-profit ownership, demonstrating the success of Vermont’s innovative non-profit housing delivery system. At the time Heineberg was built, most federal housing programs promised a limited period of affordability, after which rents could be increased to market rate. Affordable housing advocates recognized the problems created by limited affordability requirements. “We did not want residents to feel like there was a clock ticking over their heads” said Cathedral Square Executive Director Nancy Eldridge. “The market rate for housing like Heineberg is almost double our lowest rent at Heineberg. There is no way Heineberg residents could afford a major rent increase like that. Vermont has created a housing delivery system that gives our residents security. And we owe a great deal to Housing Vermont, VHFA, our local finance institutions, and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.” Housing Vermont, a state wide non-profit founded by the VHFA, crafted a way of using the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program that would allow projects to remain affordable after the 15 year requirement. “Our partnerships are intended to provide a reasonable return to our investors,” said Andy Broderick, President of Housing Vermont. “But we work with investors who understand and support the goal of insuring the housing remains affordable at the end of the 15 year tax credit period.” The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) was founded on the principle of permanent affordability. VHCB provided the mechanism for the housing’s permanent affordability by requiring that the Heineberg Senior Housing Partnership, and other partnerships that followed, agree to a Housing Subsidy Covenant. The Covenant assures that state funds committed to the project provide permanent rent restrictions. Merchant’s Bank President Joseph Boutin was one of the first to see the value of this investment partnership. “The Merchants Bank is committed to helping Vermont’s communities grow and prosper,” said Boutin. “Housing Vermont created an excellent way for the banking community to invest in affordable housing, and we have been strong supporters. It’s good business and good for the community. We are proud to be a part of Heineberg Senior Housing’s success.”

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Posted by: admin on May 3, 2005 - 3:28am

BURLINGTON— Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) has dropped the interest rate on a 30-year, no points, fixed rate loan to 5.45 percent. The new low rate is expected to help more Vermonters realize their dream of homeownership. The new rate became effective yesterday. “When market conditions permit, we always take the opportunity to lower rates,” VHFA Executive Director Sarah Carpenter, “but those conditions change constantly, so we can never predict how long any rate will last. Still, VHFA remains committed to supporting affordable homeownership and to providing Vermonters with the best value we can offer.” VHFA offers a variety of mortgage loan products to qualified buyers, with different interest rates. (See rates table on our Web site: www.vhfa.org) Rates are subject to change. Income and purchase price limits apply. Prospective borrowers should contact their local lenders for more details. A list of lenders that offer VHFA’s products is also available on the Agency’s Web site. The Vermont Legislature established VHFA on April 11, 1974, to finance and promote affordable housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income Vermonters. Since its inception, the Agency has helped almost 25,000 households with affordable mortgages and nearly 7,000 into affordable rental units.

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Posted by: admin on March 22, 2005 - 8:47am

BURLINGTON—More Vermonters are able to take part in Vermont Housing Finance Agency's low-interest mortgage programs now that VHFA’s Board of Commissioners has approved new income and purchase price limits. “VHFA is constantly working to give Vermonters more options when it comes to purchasing homes,” according to Executive Director Sarah Carpenter. “These changes reflect those efforts, as well as the perpetually rising housing costs in Vermont. “With the new limits, many more Vermonters and Vermont properties have become eligible for VHFA financing. These changes will help more Vermonters realize the dream of homeownership,” she added, “but, for many, homeownership will remain a challenge, because the state’s housing stock hasn’t kept up with demand.” Income and purchase price limits vary by county and help determine which homebuyers and properties are eligible for VHFA financing. Income limits are ceilings on what households can earn and still qualify for VHFA mortgages; purchase price limits are the maximum price a home can sell for and still be eligible for VHFA financing. VHFA raised the limits on March 22. While each county’s limits are unique, the maximum eligible purchase price for existing homes rose by $10,000 or more in 10 counties, with similar effects for newly constructed homes. Current limits are available at www.vhfa.org, or by contacting a participating VHFA lender. A complete list of lenders is available at the Web site. VHFA offers a variety of mortgage loan programs. The Agency’s 30-year 0-point interest rate is currently 5.30%. For buyers who need cash for downpayment and/or closing costs, VHFA offers a cash assistance rate option at a slightly higher rate. All rates are subject to change. VHFA was created by the Vermont Legislature in 1974 to finance and promote affordable housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income Vermonters. Since its inception, the Agency has helped more than 25,000 Vermont households with affordable mortgages and financed the development of almost 7,000 affordable rental units.

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Posted by: admin on December 9, 2004 - 3:53am

BURLINGTON—Vermont’s Queen City area might be one of the most livable in America, but it’s also an increasingly expensive one, especially for housing. New figures from ACCRA, a community and economic development research association, released today by the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce and Vermont Housing Finance Agency, show that the cost-of-living in the Burlington area — Burlington, South Burlington, Winooski and Colchester — for the third quarter of 2004 was more than 17 percent above the national average. In the same period in 2003, the area’s composite index was 12.5 percent above the national average. In the third quarter 2004, Burlington was higher than the national average in every category, with the greatest deviation from the mean found in the cost of housing at 134.8%. The city’s utilities were at 117.8%; miscellaneous goods and services at 106.4%; transportation at 109.4%; and grocery items at 110.4 Chamber President A. Wayne Roberts identified housing as a key component of the organization’s efforts to attract and retain businesses and their employees to the area. “High housing costs are a challenge for those seeking to live and work in Greater Burlington,” he said. “For a lot of people relocating to our region, it means a choice between Burlington at 135% of the national average and Plattsburgh at 93%.” “Clearly, we’re still playing catch-up when it comes to providing an adequate supply of affordable housing, and that’s driving up costs,” said VHFA Executive Director Sarah Carpenter. “We know this problem affects individual Vermonters, their families, our businesses and our economy as a whole. It boils down to a fundamental issue of costs versus wages. Vermonters are having trouble finding affordable housing.” According to the ACCRA data, the most expensive two-bedroom apartment in the nation is in New York City with an average monthly rent of $3,506. The least expensive is Hays, Kansas with an average monthly rent of $450. Burlington’s average monthly rent is $1,120. One silver lining in the ACCRA report is that the Burlington area’s housing costs are still lower than some other New England metro areas, such as New Haven, Conn. at 149.3%; Providence, R.I. at 168.3%; and Boston at 178.5%. Yet the Greater Burlington area’s housing costs rank above cities like Miami, Fla. at 127%; Hilton Head, S.C., at 110.3%; and Las Vegas, at 130.1%. The Lake Champlain Chamber has identified housing as an economic development priority for the 2005 legislative session, citing it, along with tax burdens, as a chief business competitiveness issue. VHFA offers low-interest mortgages for qualified homebuyers and provides funding and administers state and federal housing tax credits to encourage development of affordable rental units. Both organizations are members of the Vermont Housing Awareness Campaign, www.housingawareness.org, a state-wide public education effort to build support for housing development. The Lake Champlain Chamber is a participant in the nation-wide cost-of-living index, compiled by ACCRA. The ACCRA survey examines the after-tax cost of a professional/managerial standard of living for 324 urban areas. The quarterly index is available by subscription. Go online to www.costofliving.org for additional information. The cost of living data for the Burlington area was compiled by The Lake Champlain Chamber and Economic and Policy Resources of Williston. Data are available at www.vermont.org. Additional housing statistical information is available at the Vermont Housing Data Web site, www.housingdata.org

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