By: Leslie Black-Plumeau

April 23, 2015

On Monday, April 20, the VHFA Board of Commissioners committed $2.55 million in federal low-income housing tax credits and $432,500 in state housing tax credits to expand Vermont’s stock of affordable, energy-efficient housing.  The tax credits will generate approximately $23.5 million in upfront equity for the construction and rehabilitation of 452 primarily rental homes across the state, guaranteed to remain affordable for at least 30 years.   

Sarah Carpenter, Executive Director of VHFA, explained that, “with over half of Vermont’s renters paying unsustainable portions of their income for housing, the need to preserve and expand the number of apartments that will be affordable in the long-run is clear. The investments made by VHFA today will add new homes to the market in Burlington, Milton, Hartford and Vergennes and rehabilitate and secure the long-term affordability of existing housing in Springfield, Brattleboro, Lyndonville, Fair Haven, Bennington and Colchester.”  

In Burlington, the redevelopment of a building owned by the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS) at 95 North Street will create 14 rental units, a new COTS Daystation and office space for COTS staff.  Four of the 14 apartments will be for tenants who are homeless or at risk of homelessness due to eviction. These tenants will work closely with COTS case managers and have access to the critical resources provided through the Daystation such as meals, phones and computers.  Although the remaining ten apartments will be more traditional affordable rental units, they will primarily target households who are currently homeless or at risk of homelessness.   

The Bright Street project will transform a block of deteriorating residential and warehouse buildings in Burlington’s Old North End into four new buildings providing 42 apartments, mostly offering one or two bedrooms. The site is part of the State’s Brownfield Reuse Environmental Liability Limitation Program which will help to plan the clean-up of the soil’s high levels of lead and arsenic. The project will be a leasing housing cooperative through Champlain Housing Trust.    

In Burlington’s South Meadow development, Champlain Housing Trust will convert 30 apartments into affordably-priced homes for sale. This is part of a larger redevelopment of this 148-unit property by Champlain Housing Trust, who acquired the property in 2012 to preserve the use of the majority of its units as affordable rental housing.   

In Milton’s new town center, the Cathedral Square Corporation will construct 30 apartments for seniors. Milton Senior Housing will feature covered parking, elevators serving the 3-story building, a kitchen/dining area, living room, meeting space, offices for nurse visits and residential staff, libraries, laundry facilities, a gym, a salon and an activity room. Residents will participate in Cathedral Square’s Support and Services at Home (SASH) program that coordinates health care services for seniors in residential settings. A walking path behind the building will lead to the UVM Medical Center’s Milton Family Practice medical offices.

In eight Hartford-area buildings, 35 primarily one- and two-bedroom apartments will be rehabilitated and constructed on five sites owned and managed by Twin Pines Housing Trust. Three existing buildings will be demolished and replaced with new buildings that are much more energy efficient and have more functional layouts.

Gevry Park is about a mile from downtown Vergennes, just over the town boundary putting it in the small town of Waltham. This project will involve replacing 13 abandoned, uninhabitable mobile homes with 14 new, primarily two-bedroom, high-efficiency Vermod duplexes. In addition to meeting many passive housing standards, plans include equipping each home with a 6,000KW solar array to provide energy for heating, cooling, lights, cooking and water heating that will reduce utility costs to an estimated $25 per month. Addison County Community Trust will manage the project’s development and operation.

At Winchester Place in Colchester, Champlain Housing Trust will acquire and rehabilitate148 two-bedroom units. Building improvements will increase energy efficiency, upgrade the site and building exteriors, update kitchen and bath fixtures and replace windows, doors and decks. Although the bulk of the units will be rented, 18 will be sold to qualifying home buyers.

In Brattleboro, the Windham and Windsor Housing Trust is rehabilitating and improving 29 one-, two- and three-bedroom units. All buildings will receive comprehensive air sealing increased insulation and window replacement. Buildings at the Green Street site will also receive siding, insulation and heating system improvements. Buildings at the Clark and Canal site will be suited with new high-efficiency boilers and solar domestic hot water systems.

The Evergreen Heights apartment complex in Springfield will be acquired from a private owner and rehabilitated by Windham and Windsor Housing Trust to preserve that complex’s 44 one-, two- and three-bedroom units as affordable rental housing. Most renovations will improve energy efficiency, such as replacing electric heating system with a central wood pellet system and replacing windows and doors. In addition, seven units will receive new updates to bring them into compliance with current accessibility rules. 

The Darling Inn in Lyndonville which includes 27 rental apartments for seniors as well as a resident manager’s apartment will be acquired and rehabilitated by Rural Edge. Although the building was originally constructed as a hotel, it was later converted to apartments for seniors and is currently a SASH program site, providing care coordination, management and assessments to participating seniors. Renovations will focus on upgrading the building’s fire, egress and electrical systems, improving accessibility and increasing energy efficiency. The Darling Inn also includes community space and a kitchen which is used for Meals on Wheels and resident events.

The Adams House, containing 13 rental apartments for seniors in Fair Haven, will be rehabilitated by the Housing Trust of Rutland County to improve energy efficiency, conduct site work, upgrade interior and exterior finishes and make life safety code improvements. Residents of these apartments will continue to have access to the SASH program. 

In Bennington, Shires Housing will rehabilitate 26 units in historic buildings built in 1875-1900.  Renovations will include code-compliance upgrades, lead and asbestos hazard mitigation, accessibility improvements and energy efficiency improvements. 

In addition to the equity created by their allocation of housing credits, other funding sources for these projects will include the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the federal HOME program, NeighborWorks, TD Foundation, Vermont Gas, Burlington Electric Department, the Vermont Community Development Program, Federal Home Loan Bank Board, Efficiency Vermont and Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits. Housing Vermont is a critically important development partner working with the local sponsors on five of these projects.

Pictured: New building to be constructed at 95 North Street in Burlington that will include 14 apartments, a new COTS Daystation and COTS staff offices.  Source:  Duncan Wisniewski Architecture.