VHFA awards federal and state tax credits to develop and preserve affordable housing

By: Mia Watson

The Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) Board of Commissioners announced on Monday the award of federal and state housing tax credits and loans to support the development, rehabilitation or preservation of 104 permanently affordable apartments in six communities across the state.

VHFA previously awarded federal allocated or Ceiling tax credits in March. The latest funding round includes additional federal Bond credits, Vermont Affordable Housing Tax Credits and permanent and construction loans issued by VHFA.

“Increasing access to safe and affordable housing has never been more important as Vermont begins to recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic,” remarked VHFA Executive Director Maura Collins. “VHFA is pleased that we were able to leverage these diverse funding sources to both preserve existing homes and develop new apartments to meet the overwhelming unmet need.”

Projects receiving funding include Bennington Family Housing, a collaboration between Shires Housing and the Bennington County Coalition for the Homeless. Shires Housing will acquire and rehabilitate an existing historic building on Pleasant Street to serve as the new site of the Thatcher House Family Shelter. The renovated building will offer nine apartments for households transitioning out of homelessness, paired with on-site supportive services. The project received federal and state tax credits and a construction loan.

In the Clark Canal Phelps project, Windham & Windsor Housing Trust will rehabilitate 26 apartments in four different historic buildings in downtown Brattleboro and three in downtown Windsor. The existing affordable multifamily buildings will receive new heating systems, energy efficiency upgrades and accessibility improvements. The project received federal and state tax credits and a construction loan.

Prospect Place is a 132 mixed income new development in South Burlington, with 26 apartments affordable for low and moderate income households. All of the affordable apartments will receive federal vouchers to ensure that residents pay no more than 30% of income towards their housing expenses. The new building will join recently-built affordable apartments at Allard Square and Garden Street, as well as a new city hall and public library, forming the new City Center neighborhood. The project, developed by Snyder Braverman Development Company, received state tax credits.

Downstreet Housing and Community Development and Housing Vermont will redevelop five buildings of existing affordable housing in Wells River Village in Newbury. The historic buildings offer 29 total apartments and first floor commercial spaces. The project received state tax credits.

At West Burke Housing, Housing Vermont and RuralEdge will rehabilitate existing affordable housing, purchasing the property from a private landlord to ensure its permanent affordability. The project will involve 15 existing apartments, nine of which are reserved for seniors, as well as adding eight new units. Fifteen units will receive federal vouchers to ensure rental affordability. In addition, RuralEdge will add three apartments to its portfolio reserved for formerly homeless households. The project will include upgrades to well and wastewater systems, energy efficiency improvements and accessibility updates. The project received federal and state tax credits.

In addition to the housing credits and loans awarded by VHFA, other funding sources for these developments include grants and loans from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the federal HOME program, USDA Rural Development (RD), the Federal Home Loan Bank’s Affordable Housing Program, the National Housing Trust Fund, NeighborWorks and the Vermont Community Development Program.

At the meeting, the Board also approved a permanent loan to the Bellows Falls Garage project and a construction loan to Parc Terrace (formerly 223 East Allen Street), which previously received federal tax credits in March.

Despite the challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the project developers expressed their optimism that most of the planned construction work would proceed on schedule, with modifications made as needed to ensure socially distanced conditions.

Pictured: The future site of Bennington Family Housing. Courtesy of Shires Housing