Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) announced today the launch of a robust, free resource connecting Vermonters to information about housing vacancies and community needs. Low and moderate income Vermonters who lack adequate, stable housing they can afford suffer elevated health and safety risks. This recently reinvented resource, known as the Vermont Housing Data website, represents years of collaboration among stakeholders seeking to increase the number of stably housed Vermonters through state of the art information sharing tools.
In addition to administering its core home purchase and rental financing programs, VHFA manages the Vermont Housing Data website “because it closely aligns with our mission of promoting affordable, safe housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income Vermonters,” remarked VHFA Executive Directory Sarah Carpenter. "This initiative uses VHFA’s long-standing partnerships with rental housing managers and its housing research expertise to improve the housing situation of low and moderate income Vermonters who need help,” Carpenter continued.
The website’s dynamic, comprehensive housing locator covers every apartment made affordable through public project-based subsides, generating a list for apartment seekers of vacant, subsidized units and a direct link to the common tenant application accepted statewide. Specialized filters now enable apartment seekers to more easily find new vacancy listings meeting their needs--critical for the many low-income renters with few housing options, especially those with physical and location limitations.
In addition to the apartment locater, the site’s “community profiles” for every Vermont town and county help planners and decision makers more clearly assess population-level indicators and identify outcomes to address the most pressing housing needs. The profiles display data and vetted community housing needs indicators based on a variety of national and Vermont-based sources. The interactive and intuitive visualizations provide expanded filtering options and offer a wider range of information than ever before. This data is used by many different stakeholders, including municipal and regional planners, nonprofits, government agencies, and legislators. The standardized data and indicators included in the profiles are intended to improve the accuracy of local housing needs analyses to maximize the impact of public resources.
The project’s largest funding source was a Vermont Community Development planning grant from the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), in cooperation with the Village of Essex Junction, which acted as a municipal sponsor. Many local governments in Vermont rely on the community profiles for housing planning and community development.
“We were pleased to support this improvement to the community profiles,” said Katie Buckley, Commissioner of DHCD. “It is so important that communities across Vermont have access to the latest and most reliable data, allowing them to make informed housing policy decisions.”
Initially started in 2003, the Vermont Housing Data website has served thousands of users looking for housing information, including during times of disaster. Federal and state governments have used the website to publicize listings of vacant units when emergencies such as Tropical Storm Irene destroyed hundreds of Vermont homes. The increased information now available through the site will only improve Vermont's disaster response.
The fully revamped website is the result of years of planning and support from area stakeholders, including the Vermont Community Development Program, the Vermont Association of Development and Planning Associations, AARP-Vermont, the TD Foundation and Champlain Valley’s Office of Economic Opportunity Thriving Communities initiative.