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VHFA News

By: Mia Watson on 3/19/2020

VHFA is aware that many homebuyers, current homeowners, and property owners may have questions and concerns about buying a home or paying their mortgage during the COVID-19 outbreak.  To address these issues, VHFA has compiled a list of resources:

For homebuyers

VHFA staff will continue to be readily available to support lending partners and provide information to potential homebuyers.  We do not expect disruption to daily operations or web access. Vermonters preparing to buy a home with VHFA financing should continue to work with their participating lender, who can best advise them on navigating the approval process during this time.

For homeowners

If you are a current homeowner with a VHFA mortgage and are struggling to pay your mortgage during this time, we encourage you to contact your servicer with questions.

Additionally, if you have a mortgage with a lender other than VHFA, we have published a list of resources that you can contact for support.

For multifamily property owners

VHFA is in routine contact with property owners and will continue to communicate to them the steps the Agency is taking to speed up and automate payments and reduce any regulatory burdens possible. We are working with federal officials with hopes we can allow some vacant rental units to be available to high risk individuals who are currently staying in congregate homeless shelters.

Individuals

If you are struggling in other ways, we encourage you to contact Vermont 211, which can help navigate access to food, shelter, medical services and other vital resources.

We encourage you to visit VHFA’s website to find the latest updates to our programs.


By: Mia Watson on 3/16/2020

In the midst of the unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19, VHFA is committed to continuing to provide excellent service to its partners while also safeguarding the health of its staff and of the community. To that end, as of this week, VHFA will be limiting the number of staff in our office. The majority of VHFA staff will be working from home. Our staff responses may be slightly delayed due to the change in conditions, and we appreciate your patience as we adjust.

[Update: VHFA's office is closed to the public as of 3/24/20. The majority of VHFA staff continue to work from home]

Visit our website to see the latest news on our response.

 Homeownership programs

VHFA Homeownership staff will continue to be readily available to support lending partners and provide information to potential homebuyers.  There will be no disruption to daily operations or web access. Vermonters preparing to buy a home with VHFA financing should continue to work with their participating lender, who can best advise them on navigating the approval process.

Development programs

VHFA continues to review housing tax credit and loan applications. Should the date or format of the March 30th Board Meeting change, we will personally contact applicants.

Rental housing programs

At this time, the agency has suspended physical inspections of properties and units until further notice. Property Managers should contact VHFA with questions regarding compliance and asset management practices during this time. Residents should continue to contact the organization responsible for property management with any questions or concerns. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) continues to provide guidance on best practices to property managers. We encourage you to visit hud.gov to stay updated. VHFA will contact property managers as we receive more information. 

During this time, we encourage you to reach out to VHFA staff members as you normally would with any questions about specific business issues. If you have general questions about the Agency’s response, please contact home@vhfa.org.

We continue to monitor this situation closely and will provide updates to our partners as changes occur.

 

By: Mia Watson on 3/12/2020

New national research from the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation finds that children who grow up in housing funded by the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program (LIHTC) program are more likely to enroll in higher education programs and have higher earnings as adults. The federal LIHTC program, which is administered in Vermont by VHFA, is the largest single source of funding for affordable rental housing development in the state.

Using tax records, the study compared outcomes among people who had lived in LIHTC-funded housing for different periods of time. The study found that every year spent living in LIHTC housing as a child corresponded to a 3.5 percent increase in the likelihood of attending a four-year higher education program and a 3.2 percent increase in earnings as an adult.

The study suggested several possible reasons for the improved outcomes. If the LIHTC apartments were located in a more affluent neighborhood than families would otherwise be able to afford, the children could be benefiting from attending better schools, with access to more supportive resources. However, the improvement in outcomes persisted even the study when controlled for factors such as the income and poverty rates of the neighborhood. Alternatively, increased financial stability from living in LIHTC housing could result in parents having more time and resources to devote to their children. In addition, a more stable living situation has been demonstrated to improve educational outcomes among children.

Tenants living in VHFA-financed housing experience higher levels of housing stability than other renters. The median VHFA tenant has lived in their apartment for four years and three months, compared to two years for all Vermont renters, according to Census Bureau estimates. Vermont’s lower income renters likely move even more often than the median for all renters, given that low-income households generally tend to move more frequently than high-income households.

This study adds to the growing body of evidence on the importance and effectiveness of the LIHTC program. LIHTC tenants tend to have much lower incomes than most renters and would struggle to find affordable housing without subsidized apartments. Tenants in VHFA-financed apartments earn a median income of $16,702 annually compared to $37,759 for all Vermont renters. Subsidized housing can result in better health outcomes for tenants through improved financial security, reduced stress and a safer living space. LIHTC housing can also positively impact the neighborhood in which it is built, increasing property values and tax revenue and decreasing crime rates.

Pictured: Wentworth Community Housing in White River Junction. Photo courtesy of Housing Vermont. Wentworth was developed using Low Income Housing Tax Credits awarded by VHFA. 

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By: Mia Watson on 3/9/2020

Recently on Recovery Day at the Statehouse, the Vermont Alliance of Recovery Residences (VTARR) announced the establishment of Jenna’s Fund, which provides financial support for recovery housing for Vermonters overcoming substance use disorders. The initiative is funded in large part by a $90,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston (FHLB), obtained by Vermont Housing and Finance Agency (VHFA).

“Many individuals reentering their communities after treatment struggle financially and are unable to cover the initial costs of stay at a recovery residence. Their alternative all too often is to return to the environment that fueled their substance use to begin with.” remarked VHFA Executive Maura Collins.

Recovery housing offers a supportive alcohol and drug-free environment for individuals in recovery. These homes are community-based and peer-centered, with an emphasis on establishing employment and healthy lifestyles. Academic research on communal recovery housing has found that participants had significantly lower relapse and incarceration rates than individuals in outpatient programs.

Jenna’s Fund is named in memory of Vermonter Jenna Tatro who lost her life to substance use disorder last year. Her parents, Dawn and Greg Tatro, initiated the fund in her memory. The fund will be invested in partnership with the Vermont Community Foundation. VTARR will disburse proceeds to support individuals leaving rehabilitation facilities to pay for their stay at certified recovery residences for several weeks until they can obtain employment to pay for their own expenses.

Earlier this year, VHFA applied for funding from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston (FHLB) to support the creation of the fund, with FHLB committing $90,000 for the effort.  

Ken Willis, Vice President from FHLB said that, “providing services and safe, stable housing to people who are recovering from alcohol and substance abuse is critical, and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston is pleased that we were able to invest in this special Vermont fund to help individuals with their recovery.”

By: Leslie Black-Plumeau on 3/3/2020

This week marked VHFA’s offering of the lowest interest rates in the agency’s history for Vermont homebuyers. Rates as low as 3.0% became available on 30-year mortgages made through VHFA’s programs, available exclusively through its statewide network of participating lenders.

“This rate helps us extend the dream of homeownership to more people than ever before,” said VHFA Executive Director Maura Collins. “Every quarter point we can lower interest rates puts the monthly payment on a typical Vermont home within the range affordable for more potential first-time home buyers.

The rate reduction follows last month’s successful sale of $24.5 million in multiple purpose bonds for mortgages to qualified Vermont home buyers. VHFA’s bonds received a Fitch rating upgrade to AA+ in January.  Higher ratings reduce the cost of issuing bonds and ultimately helps VHFA borrowers through lower interest rates.

According to the National Association of Realtors, pending home sales rose nationally in January as the housing market became more favorable and buyers became more confident.

The traditional benefits of a VHFA mortgage make these new, low-rate mortgages even more affordable for qualified buyers. VHFA borrowers always save up to $625 at closing because the first $110,000 of the property purchase price is exempt from the Vermont Property Transfer Tax. First-time home buyers are also eligible for up to $5,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance and a mortgage interest rate as low as 3.25%. 

In addition, VHFA loans carry no loan level pricing adjustments or loan delivery fees from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. They also have lower mortgage insurance coverage requirements, lower premiums, and expanded eligibility.

More information on VHFA’s new low rates, other programs, and local participating lenders are available on its website.

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