​New England Federal Credit Union gives $1 million for affordable housing

By: Leslie Black-Plumeau

New England Federal Credit Union (NEFCU) President/CEO John J. Dwyer, Jr. announced today a $1 million grant from NEFCU to Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) to address the critical need for affordable housing. The money will be awarded by VHFA over the coming year to several housing developments that have funding shortfalls.

The grant is a bold step toward helping Vermont’s 30,000 low-income renter households who receive no housing assistance but face rents that are out of line with their income. More than half of the state’s low-income renters live in Addison, Chittenden, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille and Washington counties—the 6 counties served by NEFCU.

“We are delighted to help increase the number of homes that are affordable to those Vermonters who struggle the most,” Dwyer remarked. “We have also heard from area employers about lack of affordable workforce housing and look forward to using this money to support the local economy,” he continued.

Due to its long-standing role running the state’s largest affordable rental housing development programs, VHFA was given the million dollars and will underwrite and select projects to receive the funds.

Sarah Carpenter, VHFA’s Executive Director, explained that “the NEFCU funding will allow us to meet the immediate funding needs of two development projects in South Burlington and Montpelier.” Both projects are located in downtown areas and will house low-income renters facing extremely tight housing markets.

In South Burlington, money will be awarded for the construction of “Allard Square,” located in the new City Center neighborhood. Allard Square will be a service-enriched residential building that includes 29 apartments for low income seniors and another 10 market-rate units. Cathedral Square Corporation is developing the project with Snyder-Braverman Development Company. 

The second project to receive funding will be the historic French Block building in downtown Montpelier. This project involves the rehabilitation of the upper two floors of French Block, an Italianate-style, brick block built in 1875 across from City Hall on Main Street in downtown Montpelier. The building is being redeveloped to include 14 apartments for low-income Vermont renters and 4 market rate apartments. The development is sponsored by a partnership between Downstreet Housing and Community Development and Housing Vermont. The redevelopment plan includes creating 15 one-bedroom apartments and 3 studio apartments. The project is registered with the National Green Building Standard and the building itself is a contributing structure in the Montpelier Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.