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By: Mia Watson on 7/27/2020

Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) has announced an expansion of the Vermont Mortgage Assistance Program in order to assist more Vermont homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgage and are facing economic hardship brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Previously VHFA had announced that the program would provide up to three monthly mortgage payments directly to the servicer of the mortgage with a goal of preventing future foreclosure. Upon review, the agency is expanding the program to cover up to six monthly mortgage payments. Grants to homeowners still must be made towards actual delinquent mortgage payments that have already been missed by the time of application. However, recipients may receive less than six months of payments depending on funding availability. Existing applicants need not reapply to receive this extended benefit.

VHFA also announced that owners of mobile homes who have mortgages and meet other eligibility criteria  can receive assistance through the Mortgage Assistance Program, in addition to assistance with their lot rental payments through the Vermont State Housing Authority.

All other eligibility criteria remains the same. Applicants must apply by August 31. For further questions, please contact Vermont Legal Aid/Legal Services at (800) 889-2047.

By: Mia Watson on 7/22/2020

Vermont Legal Aid will host a free, 30-minute virtual town hall on Thursday, July 23 at 10 a.m. It will discuss the new financial help homeowners affected by COVID-19 can receive through the Vermont Mortgage Assistance Program as well as other programs for homeowners who may be facing foreclosure. VLA Attorney Grace Pazdan will talk about how the program works, who is eligible for assistance, and how to apply, and will answer questions live. Pre-registration is not required. 

How to join on July 23: 
Attend and ask questions online at: https://zoom.us/j/92311866366 
Listen by phone at 1-888-788-0099 (toll-free) or 301-715-8592 (long-distance). Use meeting ID: 923-1186-6366. 
Attend and ask questions on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/VermontLegalAid/

Previous Vermont Legal Aid town halls are available on their website, with topics including assistance for renters, unemployment, and insurance. 

By: Emerald Anderson on 7/20/2020

Are you or someone you know in need of an affordable rental apartment? According to the Vermont Directory of Affordable Rental Housing, there are apartments vacant in 50 affordable housing complexes throughout the state of Vermont. To learn more about specific housing units, requirements and availability, click on the name of the development below or visit the vacancy profile link (https://www.housingdata.org/find-rental-housing/vacancies) on our website. 

Property Namesort descending Street Address City/Town Vacant Units Apts restricted to elderly and/or tenants with disabilities
14 Birge Street 14 Birge Street Brattleboro 1 0
34 Canal Street 34 Canal Street Brattleboro 1 0
Abbott Neighborhood Housing 10 & 18 Canal Street; 172 Elliot Street and 12 & 16 Horton Place Brattleboro 1 0
Arlington Village Center Apartments 3658 - 3662 VT Route 7A Arlington 2 1
Barre Street Apartments 39-40 Barre Street Montpelier 4 0
Ben South 120-126 Benmont Avenue and 501-507 South Street Bennington 1 0
Bennington Historic 50 & 100 Carrigan Lane, 316-318 Safford Street, 233 School Street and 119-121 Pleasant Street Bennington 2 0
Bianchi Apartments 208 Barre Street Montpelier 1 0
Brookview Apartments 650 Bugbee Street Hartford 2 0
Caledonia Housing 279 Spring; 380 Portland Street; 139 Pearl Street; 72 High Street; 767 Railroad Street; 211 Winter Street; 78 Hastings Hill; 77 Barker Avenue St. Johnsbury 6 0
Canal Street Veterans Housing 120 West Canal Street Winooski 4 0
Cathedral Square Senior Living 3 Cathedral Square Burlington 11 11
Colonial Village 59 & 63 S Pleasant St and 94 & 128 S Main St Bradford 1 2
Conant Square Inn Apartments 30 Conant Square Brandon 1 1
Cora B. Whitney 814 Gage Street Bennington 1 1
Country Park 635 Hinesburg Road South Burlington 1 1
Cummings Street Apartments 21-25 Cummings Street Montpelier 2 0
Downstreet Apartments 22 Keith Avenue Barre City 1 0
Downtown Crossing 302 & 304 South Street and 343 - 349 School Street Bennington 1 0
French Block Apartments 34 Main St Montpelier 2 0
Green Mountain Seminary 201 Hollow Rd Waterbury 3 0
Highgate Apartments Highgate Drive Barre City 9 0
Hillside SRO 17 & 21 Northfield Street Montpelier 3 0
HUNT FARM HLP 2066 - 2070 Hunt Farm Road Bristol 3 0
Island Pond 19 Walnut Street, 190 Derby Street, 74 Mountain Street, 84 Elm Street Brighton 1 0
Jeffersonville Bond - Senior 115 Mann's Meadow Cambridge 1 0
Johns River Apartments 22 Caswell Avenue, 22 & 29 West Street Derby 1 0
Joslyn House 16 Maple Street Randolph 4 0
Keen's Crossing 65 - 85 Winooski Falls Way; 15 Cascade Way and 16 Abenaki Way Winooski 3 0
Mad River Meadows 144 Butcher House Drive Waitsfield 2 2
Manchester Commons Housing 119, 120, 135 & 150 Torrey Knoll Manchester 3 0
Newport Senior Housing 107 & 119 Main Street Newport City 1 0
North Branch Apartments 87 & 89 Elm Street; 6 & 8 Monsignor Crosby Ave and 47 Barre Street Montpelier 5 0
Norwich Senior Housing 4 Dorrance Drive Norwich 1 1
Park House 16 Park Row Box 4 Rochester 4 0
Passumpsic South 16, 40, 66, 84, 118, 182 & 200 Main Street St. Johnsbury 1 0
River Station Apartments 191 Barre Street Montpelier 3 0
Riverview Apartments 73 Westminster Street Rockingham 1 0
Roaring Branch 132-134, 136-138 & 140-142 Benmont Avenue and 100-111 & 113-115 Roaring Branch Lane Bennington 1 0
South Main Apartments 36 State Dr. Waterbury 2 0
Thayer BTS 29-35 Conant Square, 149 Mulcahy Drive Brandon 1 0
Tontine 500 Coolidge Hwy Guilford 1 0
Vermont Arts Apartments - Shaftsbury 10-12 & 14-16 Greenwich Street Shaftsbury 2 0
Waits River Apartments 64, 68, 108, 234, 245 South Main Street; 33 South Pleasant Street and 25 Cobblestone Street Bradford 1 0
Wentworth Community Housing LP 117 Wentworth Way Hartford 2 0
Wheeler Brook Apartments 19, 31 & 71 Wheeler Brook Drive Warren 1 0
Winooski River Apartments 11 Bailey Avenue; 15 Baldwin Avenue and 37 Barre Street Montpelier 3 0
By: Mia Watson on 7/15/2020

The Local Support and Community Action Team of the Governor's Economic Recovery Task Force is launching a series of virtual forums for every county across the state. The forums, facilitated by the Vermont Council on Rural Development, will allow Vermonters to meet with a team of state, federal, business, and non-profit leaders and share challenges and ideas for community recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and connect to others working to respond, recover, and build long-term resilience.

Upcoming online forums will take place between July 21 and October 1. Each forum will consist of a brief opening session, followed by four 90-minute breakout sessions into topics chosen by regional leaders and representatives, and conclude with a short closing session. All are welcome and encouraged to participate in their county's forum. 

Registration is required. Registration will open two weeks before each forum. Click here for more information, dates, and to register in your county. If you need assistance with registration or have questions about the forum or how to join, please contact info@vtrural.org or call 802-223-6091.

By: Mia Watson on 7/14/2020

VHFA Executive Director Maura Collins joined Representative Peter Welch at the future site of Juniper House in Burlington last week to promote the federal Moving Forward Act, a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package recently passed by the House of Representatives. As Representative Welch highlighted earlier that week, the bill would provide substantial investment into a broad community investment activities such as highways, public infrastructure, investments in schools, and broadband. Reflective of the important role affordable housing provides in community development, the bill would also significantly increase annual housing tax credits available to states as well as provide $100 billion for several other affordable housing programs.

"Job one -- let's get the virus under control,” remarked Welch. “But job two -- and we can't forget it -- let's rebuild America, let's invest. Let's invest in housing so when we are back we can have affordable, quality places that people can live in town close to jobs.”

The bill would permanently increase the amount of Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), the largest single source of funding for affordable rental housing. The increase of the small state minimum allocation from $3,217,500 to $5,214,051 over the next two years would add around $9 million of additional affordable housing resources for Vermont in the first year, and $18 million each year after full implementation. This increase would bring an estimated additional 85 affordable housing units online each year.

In addition to funding increases, the bill would also add several improvements to the LIHTC program. The 4% or ‘bond’ tax credits, primarily used to fund rehabilitation projects, would be fixed at 4% instead of the current variable rate, providing affordable housing developers with a more stable and substantial source of funding. It would also expand the types of projects that are eligible for a ‘basis boost’, or an increase in the maximum number of credits a project can receive, adding boosts for projects in rural areas and projects serving at least 20% extremely low-income tenants.

LIHTC-funded affordable housing has significant benefits for the communities it serves. A recent congressional study found that every year spent living in LIHTC housing as a child corresponded to a 3.5 percent increase in the likelihood of attending a four-year higher education program and a 3.2 percent increase in earnings as an adult. LIHTC apartment buildings can also positively impact the neighborhood in which they are built, increasing property values and tax revenue.

The Moving Forward Act would also add $100.6 in one-time funding for several other programs used for affordable housing Vermont, including the Public Housing Capital Fund, the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, the National Housing Trust Fund, and the HOME Program. The National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) has a full summary of the housing-related provisions of the bill. These efforts come as both the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate consider FY21 appropriation levels that will also impact resources available for affordable housing.  

The Moving Forward Act is currently under review by the U.S Senate, where its passage appears uncertain. Affordable housing advocates continue to push to ensure housing provision similar to those contained in the Moving Forward Act remain a focus in any major relief funding legislation from either the U.S. Senate or Housing of Representatives. 

Photo courtesy of Representative Peter Welch