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VHFA News

By: Mia Watson on 12/5/2019
Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) worked with local financial institutions to fund affordable homes that will be sold to low- and moderate-income Vermonters. Passumpsic Bank, Mascoma Bank, Union Mutual Insurance, Community National Bank, and Union Bank invested in Vermont Affordable Housing Tax Credits available through VHFA.
 
Vermont Affordable Housing Tax Credits provide funding for rental housing development and affordable homeownership opportunities. This year, the State increased funding for the credits by $250,000. These state tax credits are awarded by VHFA along with federal tax credits and loans to developers. These credits are then sold to investors to raise the start-up capital needed for housing development. The state homeownership credits were purchased by Passumpsic Bank, Mascoma Bank, Union Mutual Insurance and Community National Bank. Together, the sale of the credits has raised roughly $2.5 million for affordable housing. 
 
An additional investment by Union Bank will fund VHFA’s Down Payment Assistance program. This is the sixth straight year that Union Bank has purchased these credits. VHFA’s Down Payment Assistance program helps first-time homebuyers purchase a home in Vermont. Historically, VHFA has sold credits directly to investors to raise money for the program. This year, for the first time, VHFA also sold homeownership tax credits on behalf of a group of affordable housing developers, including Champlain Housing Trust, Twin Pines Housing and NeighborWorks of Western Vermont. This bulk sale made it easier to find investors for the credits, and benefited from VHFA’s expertise in navigating the tax credit market. 
 
State housing tax credits are a sound financial instrument for institutions and they are also an important investment in Vermont communities, which have an urgent need for more affordable housing. The median Vermont home sold for $215,000 in 2018, which would be affordable for a household with an annual income of $61,523 per year. However, the median Vermont renter household earns just $33,949.
 
Projects funded by this investment include affordable townhomes at Safford Commons in Woodstock developed by Twin Pines Housing. NeighborWorks of Western Vermont will use the funds on a pilot project to rehabilitate older homes in Arlington. Champlain Housing Trust plans to use the funds on several projects, including a collaboration with Habitat for Humanity in Milton. All of these homes will be sold to low- and moderate-income families. In exchange for reduced purchase prices, homebuyers agree to perpetual affordability for future buyers.
 
Pictured: Safford Commons. New homes for homebuyers will be built in the Safford Commons neighborhood, which currently offers affordable apartments for rent. Photo courtesy of Twin Pines Housing.
 
By: Mia Watson on 12/2/2019

The federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) has had an enormous impact in Vermont. Since 1986, federal housing tax credits allocated through Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) have helped build over 7,400 homes for low-income families. The program also benefits the Vermont economy, supporting over 8,000 jobs per year and leveraging millions of dollars in private investment for affordable rental housing. The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (AHCIA), currently under consideration in Congress, would expand the credit by 50%.

AHCIA was first introduced in 2018, and although it was not enacted, Congress did expand the credit by 12.5%. The reintroduced AHCIA aims to build on this success, and advocates believe that the bill has a strong chance of being enacted. The 2019 ACHIA has been co-sponsored by over a quarter of the Senators and one third of House members from both parties, which is extremely rare.  All of Vermont’s congressional delegation are co-sponsors, with Vermont the first state to hit that milestone.

If passed, AHCIA would enable the creation of an estimated 861 additional affordable homes in Vermont over the next ten years. The bill also adds incentives for serving homeless and extremely low-income families and developing more homes in rural areas.

AHCIA would dramatically expand Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA)’s ability to help Vermonters most in need of housing assistance. Currently, tenants in VHFA-subsidized apartments earn a median income of just $16,702 annually, compared to $33,949 for all Vermont renters. VHFA’s apartments also connect homeless, at-risk, elderly and disabled Vermonters with supportive services to help them live safely and independently.

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By: Mia Watson on 11/25/2019

Do you need an affordable apartment or know someone who does?  

There are vacancies in 31 different apartment complexes across the state, according to the Vermont Directory of Affordable Rental Housing. Learn more about particular units by clicking on the development name below, or by visiting the vacancy profiles on the website.

Pictured:  Taylor Street Apartments in Montpelier. Photo courtesy of Housing Vermont

Property Namesort descending Street Address City/Town

Vacant Apartments

Apts restricted to elderly and/or tenants with disabilities
14 Birge Street 14 Birge Street Brattleboro 1 0
34 Canal Street 34 Canal Street Brattleboro 1 0
Abbott Neighborhood Housing 10 & 18 Canal Street; 172 Elliot Street and 12 & 16 Horton Place Brattleboro 1 0
Arlington Village Center Apartments 3658 - 3662 VT Route 7A Arlington 1 1
Barre Street Apartments 39-40 Barre Street Montpelier 4 0
Ben South 120-126 Benmont Avenue and 501-507 South Street Bennington 1 0
Bennington Historic 50 & 100 Carrigan Lane, 316-318 Safford Street, 233 School Street and 119-121 Pleasant Street Bennington 2 0
Brookview Apartments 650 Bugbee Street Hartford 2 0
Caledonia Housing 279 Spring; 380 Portland Street; 139 Pearl Street; 72 High Street; 767 Railroad Street; 211 Winter Street; 78 Hastings Hill; 77 Barker Avenue St. Johnsbury 6 0
Canal Street Veterans Housing 120 West Canal Street Winooski 4 0
Cathedral Square Senior Living 3 Cathedral Square Burlington 11 11
Conant Square Inn Apartments 30 Conant Square Brandon 1 1
Cora B. Whitney 814 Gage Street Bennington 1 1
Country Park 635 Hinesburg Road South Burlington 1 1
Cummings Street Apartments 21-25 Cummings Street Montpelier 2 0
Downtown Crossing 302 & 304 South Street and 343 - 349 School Street Bennington 1 0
Highgate Apartments Highgate Drive Barre City 9 0
HUNT FARM HLP 2066 - 2070 Hunt Farm Road Bristol 3 0
Jeffersonville Bond - Senior 115 Mann's Meadow Cambridge 1 0
Mad River Meadows 144 Butcher House Drive Waitsfield 1 2
Monument View Apartments Hilltop Drive Bennington 11 0
Newport Senior Housing 107 & 119 Main Street Newport City 1 0
North Branch Apartments 87 & 89 Elm Street; 6 & 8 Monsignor Crosby Ave and 47 Barre Street Montpelier 3 0
Norwich Senior Housing 4 Dorrance Drive Norwich 1 1
Park House 16 Park Row Box 4 Rochester 4 0
Roaring Branch 132-134, 136-138 & 140-142 Benmont Avenue and 100-111 & 113-115 Roaring Branch Lane Bennington 1 0
Taylor Street Apartments 1 Taylor St Montpelier 30 0
Thayer BTS 29-35 Conant Square, 149 Mulcahy Drive Brandon 1 0
Tontine 500 Coolidge Hwy Guilford 1 0
Vermont Arts Apartments - Shaftsbury 10-12 & 14-16 Greenwich Street Shaftsbury 2 0
Wentworth Community Housing LP 117 Wentworth Way Hartford 2 0

 

By: Mia Watson on 11/21/2019

In 2019, the Vermont Legislature passed Act 48, which included asking the State Treasurer to evaluate and report on options for funding and financing affordable housing in the state.  This report is due on January 15, 2020.

Act 48 instructs the Treasurer to coordinate with Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA), Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB), Agency of Commerce and Community Development (DHCD) and the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition (VAHC). The Treasurer has met with each of these stakeholders, as well as other groups, and has attended public hearings hosted around the state by the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs.

Prior to submitting the final report, Treasurer Beth Pearce will be holding a meeting of all stakeholders and other interested parties in the Treasurer’s Office to help develop the scope of the recommendations. This meeting will be held on Monday, December 16th, 2019 from 1:00-3:00 p.m. in Montpelier in the Governor’s Conference Room on the 4th floor of the Pavilion Building (109 State Street).

Please contact Ashlynn Doyon (Ashlynn.Doyon@vermont.gov) with questions and to RSVP in advance of the meeting.

By: Maura Collins on 11/13/2019

This commentary by VHFA Executive Director Maura Collins appeared recently in VTDigger

New estimates show fewer young Vermonters are buying homes. Vermont currently has the sixth highest homeownership rate in the nation, with 71 percent of households owning their home, but a downturn among young buyers could have lasting negative effects on Vermont’s economy.

According to 2017 Census Bureau estimates, Vermont’s homeownership rate among 25 to 34 year olds has fallen to 41 percent when it was 49 percent just a decade ago. The inability to find affordable housing during this stage of life can considerably delay purchasing a home, which delays these young Vermonters from committing to the state long term. A recent report from the Urban Institute found that young adults who lived with their parents between the ages of 25 and 34 were significantly less likely to be homeowners even 10 years later.

Homeownership is an important vehicle for households to build long-term wealth.  Home equity is the largest component of household wealth, especially for Vermonters in the lower half of the wealth scale.  In this way, homeownership is critical for retirement planning. Buying one’s first home later in life can make it challenging to pay off a mortgage before retirement when income typically falls. Deferred home purchases could have long-term economic consequences for Vermont if growing numbers of low and middle income elderly retirees lack the financial security provided by home ownership.

Homeownership builds long-term wealth in several ways. Homeownership still financially outperforms stocks and bonds. Despite recent tax law changes, homeowners also continue to receive significant tax benefits that renters do not have access to, allowing families to pass wealth to the next generation. People who become homeowners also tend to report higher levels of health, community involvement and sense of satisfaction with their lives than those who don’t.

Why are young households struggling to become homeowners? Vermonters generally have higher student and auto loan debt than most states, which can make it difficult to save enough to afford a down payment, and we know that Vermont has the 5th highest closing costs in the country. Vermont home prices have increased dramatically over the last two decades, while real wage growth for most households has been essentially stagnant. Inventories of affordable, decent quality homes are also low in many areas of the state, making buyers compete for scarce properties. 

With Vermont 25 to 34 year old households growing at a rate of just 0.1 percent per year, many policy makers have expressed concern over the prospect of young people leaving the state for other opportunities. Having adequate housing options can both help employers attract and retain workers. Owning a home makes households far less likely to move, helping to keep them closely tied to their communities and in the state long-term.

Housing impacts almost every part of our lives. A lack of affordable homeownership opportunities is already reshaping Vermont’s economy. Vermont’s future will depend on how we respond.

 

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