By: Leslie Black-Plumeau

September 2, 2016

At the invitation of Senator Patrick Leahy, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro visited Burlington yesterday to meet with the state’s housing leaders and attend a ribbon-cutting at the new Bright Street affordable housing project.

Secretary Castro and Senator Leahy commended Vermont's housing community for its common sense, innovative public policy approaches to improving the supply of affordable housing, supporting communities and responding to disasters. He also noted that Vermont leads the nation in serving extremely low income renters in apartments developed through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program administered for Vermont by VHFA.  Of all apartments developed with housing credits in Vermont in 2014, 58% are occupied by tenants making less than 30% of the area median. The national average is 8%.

VHFA Executive Director Sarah Carpenter and other partners responded by suggesting ways HUD could help them address the pressing housing needs still facing many low-income Vermonters. For example, Carpenter suggested that allowing FHA to insure qualified 100% loan-to-value ratio mortgages would help rural states like Vermont where home ownership is so prevalent and rental options in some locations are extremely limited.  

Secretary Castro also announced the availability of $3 million for Vermont from the National Housing Trust Fund. The National Housing Trust Fund is the direct result of Vermont’s congressional delegation and housing advocates--introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders in 2001 and finalized in part by Senator Leahy in 2016.

Following the meeting at Burlington City Hall, the afternoon continued with a ribbon cutting at the new 40-unit Bright Street rental housing cooperative in Burlington's Old North End.  VHFA provided state and federal housing tax credits which covered two-thirds of the costs of developing the housing units.

Check out our Facebook page for more pictures of the day’s events or learn more from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board who will be administering the National Housing Trust Fund in Vermont, WCAX, VT Digger and Senator Leahy's office.