House Commerce Committee approves expanding VHFA down payment assistance program

By: Leslie Black-Plumeau

H.R. 766, the bill that includes an expansion of  VHFA’s Down Payment Assistance Program, was approved by the Vermont House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development last week.  Since the 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.R. 766 also includes a homeowner’s rehabilitation tax credit that would be overseen by the Vermont Downtown Development Board and an expansion of the successful Downtown Development Tax Credit program.  Last Friday VHFA’s Executive Director Sarah Carpenter testified in support of the bill before the House Ways and Means Committee. VHFA and other supporters are hopeful that consideration of the bill will continue as part of the State House's “Downtown Day” scheduled to take place when the Legislature resumes on March 13th. 

Pictured: Dorothy Pfende is one of the 600 first-time Vermont home buyers who have used the Down Payment Assistance Program since it started in 2015. by P. Detzer.