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By: Mia Watson on 3/11/2019

More than one in three Vermont households live in homes that consume unsustainably high portions of their income, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. A new report from the Urban Institute proposes solutions to grow and preserve the nation’s affordable housing stock, some of which are already being implemented across Vermont.

The affordable housing crisis that our country faces was precipitated by insufficient construction of new homes over the last several decades, according to the report. It encourages communities to revise overly restrictive zoning regulations so that developers can produce more housing at a lower cost. To that end, VHFA has joined the Thriving Communities campaign, a Vermont initiative to provide business leaders, public officials, local and regional planners, and developers with the tools to promote affordable housing in their communities. VHFA also offers tools for communities on its Vermont Housing Data website and directly supports the construction of new homes by awarding tax credits and loans for affordable housing.

The report also highlights the importance of preserving existing affordable homes, particularly those that are not subsidized and are at risk of rising rents or displacement by new development. A major roadblock to preserving the supply of naturally occurring affordable housing is a lack of records indicating where this stock is located. The State of Vermont’s Rental Housing Advisory Board has recommended considering a rental registry to help address health and safety violations. Access to this information would help Vermont towns identify the rental housing within their boundaries, which would allow them act proactively to protect it.     

To improve affordability of the existing housing stock, the Urban Institute calls for a substantial expansion of housing assistance for low-income renters. In Vermont, most low-income households do not live in subsidized apartments or receive vouchers and must pay market rates. The median rent is unaffordable to minimum wage workers in every Vermont county. The report suggests initiatives including tax credits for renters and supplements to the earned income tax credit to reflect local housing costs.

Finally, the report calls on communities to expand access to homeownership, which not only supports households’ economic security and well-being, but also helps families build long-term wealth. Homeownership has been difficult to achieve for many groups in the wake of the Great Recession, especially Millennials and people of color. The homeownership rate for Black Vermonters is just 22 percent, compared to 71 percent of White households. The Urban Institute recommends developing novel methods for homeownership that can open the door to those previously shut out. The report highlights Champlain Housing Trust’s shared equity homeownership model as a model for allowing low-income households to buy homes without excessive debt, while keeping the unit permanently affordable. The report also argues for more inclusive lending practices that lower the barriers for first-time homebuyers with limited incomes or imperfect credit histories. VHFA’s homeownership programs offer down payment assistance to eligible low and moderate income households, helping them purchase their first home with less financial strain.

For all of these initiatives, the Urban Institute emphasizes the importance of access to strong research and data so that housing advocates can effectively argue their case to their communities. VHFA operates HousingData.org, which includes a directory of subsidized rental housing in Vermont, a toolbox of housing policy resources, and community profiles with housing-related data at the state, county, and local level.

Pictured: Roaring Branch Apartments in Bennington

By: Leslie Black-Plumeau on 3/7/2019

With town meeting day behind us and many new faces elected to local office across the state, this post shares a few key housing resources for towns.  

A growing number of Vermont communities seeking economic and community vibrancy through housing have taken foundational steps of conducting local needs assessments and appointing housing commissions.  These commissions are typically charged with recommending policy changes that will ensure the local housing stock offers options affordable at a range of income levels.

In addition to assessing their uniquely local conditions, Vermont towns face many common housing problems and can learn a lot from the successes reaped elsewhere. The substantial impact of local regulations and other municipal activities on housing supply and affordability is gaining more attention as experts look for new ways to move the needle on the nation’s ongoing housing affordability problems. This recent Strong Towns post highlights ways towns can make a difference without spending a dime.

One way VHFA supports Vermont’s towns is by providing community profiles containing the latest data and indicators of housing need to enable fact-based local decision making. We also provide check lists of tools for addressing housing needs and examples in Vermont and other states of towns that have used specific approaches.

By: Mia Watson on 2/27/2019

Do you need an affordable apartment or know someone who does?  

There are vacancies in 42 different apartment complexes across the state, according to the Vermont Directory of Affordable Rental Housing. Learn more about particular units by clicking on the development name below, or by visiting the vacancy profiles on the website.

Pictured: Black River Overlook apartments in Ludlow


Property Namesort descending Street Address City/Town Vacant Units Apts restricted to elderly and/or tenants with disabilities
128-130 West Main Street 128-130 West Main Street Bennington 1 0
86 Raymond Street 86 Raymond Street Lyndon 1 0
Arlington Village Center Apartments 3658 - 3662 VT Route 7A Arlington 3 0
Barre Street Apartments 39-40 Barre Street Montpelier 2 0
Ben South 120-126 Benmont Avenue and 501-507 South Street Bennington 2 0
Bennington Historic 50 & 100 Carrigan Lane, 316-318 Safford Street, 233 School Street and 119-121 Pleasant Street Bennington 5 0
Black River Overlook 146, 147 & 161 Rublee Lane Ludlow 1 0
Bradford Village Apartments 110, 125 & 142 Meadow Lane Bradford 4 0
Bristol Family Housing 2066 - 2070 Hunt Farm Road. Bristol 2 0
Bromur Apartments 2 - 8 & 1 - 21 Bromur Street Barre City 1 0
Cora B. Whitney 814 Gage Street Bennington 1 1
Coventry Senior Housing 10 Covered Bridge Road Coventry 1 0
Cummings Street Apartments 21-25 Cummings Street Montpelier 2 0
Depot Street 211, 213 & 215 Depot Street Bennington 1 0
Downstreet Apartments 22 Keith Avenue Barre City 2 0
Downtown Crossing 302 & 304 South Street and 343 - 349 School Street Bennington 1 0
French Block Apartments 34 Main St Montpelier 18 0
Green Mountain Seminary 201 Hollow Rd Waterbury 1 0
Hebert Farm Apartments 21 & 23 Hebert Road Montpelier 1 0
Heritage Court 624 York Street Poultney 1 1
Highgate Apartments Highgate Drive Barre City 9 0
Hollister Hill Apartments 42 & 94 Austin Road Marshfield 6 0
Island Pond 19 Walnut Street, 190 Derby Street, 74 Mountain Street, 84 Elm Street Brighton 2 0
Keen's Crossing 65 - 85 Winooski Falls Way; 15 Cascade Way and 16 Abenaki Way Winooski 6 0
Mad River Meadows 144 Butcher House Drive Waitsfield 2 2
Manchester Knoll 35 - 83 Torrey Knoll Manchester 5 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 4 0
Norwich Senior Housing 4 Dorrance Drive Norwich 1 1
Park House 16 Park Row Box 4 Rochester 4 0
Parker House 129 Church Street Rutland City 1 0
River Station Apartments 191 Barre Street Montpelier 1 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
Sadawga Springs 9 School Street Whitingham 2 0
Southview Apartments 30 Stanley Road Springfield 1 0
Spear House and Spear House Apartments 69 Main Street North Newbury 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 4 0
West River Valley - Assisted Living 461 Grafton Road Townshend 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 4 0
By: Mia Watson on 2/25/2019

VHFA is proud to recognize staff who participated in the Employee Volunteer Program (EVP) in 2018.

As part of our mission to finance and promote affordable, safe, and decent housing opportunities, VHFA encourages its employees to lend their voluntary support to programs that positively impact the quality of life within our communities. The Employee Volunteer Program allows all regular VHFA employees one additional day of paid Combined Time Off each calendar year to volunteer in a community program.

VHFA staff member Erin Philbrick wrote, “My sons Aiden, Quinn and I went to volunteer at the Franklin County Animal Rescue (FCAR). We helped with all the routine chores of caring for the sheltered cats – feeding, cleaning cages, doing laundry and socializing with them.  Of course we all enjoyed the socializing part the most, but it also felt good to give our time to help make their time in temporary shelter more bearable.”

Ten VHFA staff volunteered a total of 64 hours in 2018, a value of over $2,700. Participation in the program has increased steadily over the past three years.

Below are some of the organizations where VHFA staff have volunteered:

Pathways Vermont

Mount Mansfield Universalist Unitarian Fellowship

American Red Cross

Shelburne Charlotte Hinesburg Interfaith Projects

US Maher Friends

LUND Kids A Part

Franklin County Animal Rescue

Dragonheart Vermont

Youth Services Opportunities Project

By: Mia Watson on 2/22/2019

The Vermont Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIAVT) is partnering with the Vermont Chapter of the Constructions Specifications Institute (CSI VT) to offer pro-bono design and planning input for Vermont nonprofits, municipalities, and community-based groups.

Project proposals will be reviewed during ACX VT, the annual Vermont architecture and construction conference, which will take place on May 21, 2019 at the Hilton in Burlington. ACX VT will feature a workshop in which organizations can propose projects to design professionals for input and collaboration. These proposals must be for a specific project, which must address a stated need that exists in Vermont. ACX will review, rank, and select a proposal to receive design and planning services. Inclusive design projects that foreground equitable approaches to addressing race, gender, and socioeconomic status in the built environment will be prioritized.

To find out if your organization and project qualify, and to learn how to apply, visit the conference website. Proposals must be received by March 15, 2019.

Pictured: Elm Place, a senior apartment building developed and owned by Cathedral Square Corporation. The building, which won a national award for energy-efficiency, was designed by Duncan Wisniewski Architecture of Burlington