On Monday, the Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) Board of Commissioners awarded $14.2 million to 12 projects totaling 92 homes across eight counties as part of the Missing Middle-Income Homeownership Development Pilot Program (Missing Middle-Income Program). The program represents the largest single investment in the state’s history to create new homeownership opportunities. Signed into law by Governor Scott in June of 2022, the program was established by the Vermont Legislature with an initial investment of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. VHFA also received a $2 million funding commitment from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board to establish a construction guarantee component to the program, which will be awarded at a future meeting.
“We simply are not building enough homes in Vermont,” remarked Maura Collins, Executive Director of VHFA. “With this historic investment into the rehabilitation and construction of new, modest homes, Vermont is ensuring more people have access to the benefits of owning their home and meeting our state’s housing goals.” A recent analysis by VHFA estimates the state will need to create between 30,000 and 40,000 new housing units by 2030.
The Missing Middle-Income Program was established to create new, modest homes throughout the state and help meet the needs of low and moderate-income households due to decades of underinvestment in homeownership and skyrocketing housing costs. A recent analysis by VHFA found that the median home price jumped by an unprecedented 15% from the previous year. The projects funded consist of various types of homes, including townhomes, condominiums, single-family, and modular.
After multiple rounds of public feedback, VHFA created program guidelines and opened the application process in December of 2022. Five weeks later, VHFA received a total of 16 applications for more than $22 million. If more funds become available, the Board of Commissioners will consider funding requests beyond those possible with the Legislature’s initial investment.
The program will provide subsidies and incentives for home builders to construct or rehabilitate modest homes affordable to Vermont homebuyers at or below 120% of the area median income. Subsidies from the program will remain in the homes in perpetuity. More than 50% of program funds, or approximately $7 million, awarded on Monday went to the development of Shared Equity homes. Additionally, the program prioritizes criteria including geographic disbursement across the state; locations with a history of underinvestment in affordable homeownership; home energy efficiency; proximity to services, public transportation, employment and historic settlement patterns; community revitalization including rehabilitation of historic buildings; new construction in areas targeted for growth; and restoration of natural landscapes.
The 12 homeownership projects awarded at the March 13 Board of Commissioners meeting were:
- Lofts at Sacred Heart in Newport developed by Rural Edge was awarded $1,647,643 to support the historic rehabilitation and construction of 12 condominiums at the former site of the Sacred Heart Convent and High School. This will expand the sparse housing stock in the area and it is located one-half mile from downtown Newport with access to services and employment.
- Hill Street in Barre developed by Central Vermont Habitat for Humanity was awarded $72,651 to support the demolition of an existing building and construction of a single family, three-bedroom, two-bathroom home. It is located one-half mile from downtown Barre with access to services and employment.
- Summit Middlebury in Middlebury developed by Summit Properties was awarded $6,075,405 that will support the construction of 35 homes consisting of a mix of duplexes, row townhouses, and townhome flats in ten buildings. The property is adjacent to the downtown and within the Neighborhood Development Area. The neighborhood will include amenities such as community gardens, green spaces, pocket parks, a playground, a dog park, and nature paths connecting to the existing town-owned trail network.
- Bay Ridge Condominiums in Shelburne developed by Champlain Housing Trust was awarded $4,225,012 for the construction of six fourplex and one duplex homes as part of the Harbor Place redevelopment, located two miles from the village center and three miles from South Burlington. All homes will have a small private backyard and large deck, access to the community green space, and a garage.
- Salisbury Square Phase 2 in Randolph developed by Randolph Area Community Development Corporation was awarded $419,529 to build two single-family, Zero Energy modular homes. The property is located three blocks from Main Street and will be connected to a Direct Current Microgrid (in partnership with Efficiency Vermont), enabling the solar generated on-site to power homes and provide backup energy through batteries.
- Hickory Street in Rutland developed by Habitat for Humanity of Rutland County was awarded $72,626 for a three-bedroom, 1,200 square-foot single-family home design with one full bath. The property is located one half block from downtown near public transportation and amenities, including shopping, restaurants, schools, and municipal and federal offices.
- Safford Commons Phase 2 in Woodstock developed by Twin Pines Housing Trust and Evernorth was awarded $745,044 to construct four homes in two duplex buildings. Safford Commons is located across from the Woodstock High and Middle School, in walking distance to the area Senior Center, in close proximity to the Farmer's Market, restaurants, commercial lodging, and is approximately one mile west of Woodstock's central business district.
- Simmons Project in North Bennington developed by Sage City Syndicate, Inc. was awarded $648,110 for the rehabilitation and conversion of a currently uninhabitable multi-family building into four condominiums. The property is located in the village center and will have walking access to many restaurants, shops, schools, a library, a post office, and recreation options.
- Temple Street & Manhattan Drive in Burlington developed by Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity was awarded $100,000 for the construction of two duplex buildings. The Temple Street site is currently vacant land in an established neighborhood, and the Manhattan Drive site currently has a structure that will be demolished. Both sites are within walking distance of a variety of services and bus services.
- Peggy’s Way in Manchester developed by Bennington County Habitat for Humanity was awarded $74,000 for the construction of a single-family, 1,200 square-foot single-level home with three bedrooms and two baths. The property is located three miles from downtown and numerous amenities, including restaurants, retail, municipal offices, health offices, and schools.
- Jennifer Lane in Bennington developed by Bennington County Habitat for Humanity was awarded $74,000 to construct a single-family, 1,200 square-foot single-level home with three bedrooms and two baths. The property is located three miles from downtown and numerous amenities, including restaurants, retail, municipal offices, health offices, and schools.
- Booth Woods in Vergennes developed by Habitat for Humanity of Addison County was awarded $79,100 to construct a single-family, 1,371 square-foot single-story design home with one full bath. The property is located approximately three-quarters of a mile from downtown Vergennes. It is the second of four lots owned by Addison Habitat to be developed in Booth Woods.
Pictured: A duplex in the Safford Commons neighborhood in Woodstock.