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Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on February 22, 2018 - 4:22pm

Yesterday, Ryan Rush-Booth, a Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) borrower who lives in Stamford, VT, testified at the State House in support of doubling VHFA’s Down Payment Assistance program funding. Rush-Booth works in IT at Southwestern VT Medical Center. When they first moved to Vermont six years ago, Ryan, his wife, and their two young children moved in with family because they could not find affordable housing.

While living with parents, Ryan and his wife saved up enough money to try to buy a home, but could only afford a recent foreclosure that needed a tremendous amount of work. Because the family needed to dedicate much of their savings toward improving the home, the down payment assistance funding provided by VHFA was a critical factor. 

In addition to testifying in the state Senate, Rush-Booth presented at a luncheon for legislators and other partners. Doubling the funding available for VHFA’s Down Payment Assistance program, called the ASSIST Program, was included in Governor Scott's budget and is now under consideration in the Vermont Legislature. 

Expanding the Down Payment Assistance Program would insure that it remains available to future potential first-time home buyers like Rush-Booth and his family.  Since the program began in 2015, demand has been running at twice what can be funded through the Vermont Affordable Housing Tax Credit, the program's designated funding source. 

Posted by: Mia Watson on February 22, 2018 - 9:00am

A new report from the Center for Investigative Reporting reveals that lenders across the United States are denying conventional mortgage loan applications for African American and Latino applicants at higher rates than comparable White applicants.

Minority groups in the United States have historically struggled to access homeownership, in large part due to racially biased lending practices. In response, the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 was passed in order to help protect individuals from discriminatory practices by landlords and financial institutions. The Community Reinvestment Act was later passed in 1977 to provide incentives for financial institutions to help meet the credit needs of their local communities. Despite these positive efforts, racially biased lending – also known as red-lining – continues.

According to Pew Research Center, data collected under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act shows that overall in 2015, 27% of African American applicants and 19% of Latino applicants were denied mortgages, compared with about 11% of White and Asian applicants. The Center for Investigative Reporting report finds that in many markets, inequality persisted even after controlling for applicant income, loan amount, and the neighborhood.

The racial divide in mortgage lending and homeownership was widened by the housing crisis beginning in 2007. The Urban Institute describes how African American households in particular were disproportionately targeted with predatory lending practices before the crisis, lost a greater proportion of household wealth during the recession, and have recovered more slowly than other groups. Only 20% of African Americans aged 30 to 34 owned homes in 2016, compared with 34% back in 2000.

In the wake of the crisis, tight credit market conditions have made it difficult for all households with lower credit scores and modest savings to obtain a home loan. It can be difficult to separate the effects of the well-documented history of racially biased lending with a housing market that has significant barriers of entry for many homebuyers. Housing experts consulted by the Urban Institute argue that the problem must be tackled on both ends – including increasing transparency and accountability in the lending process to ensure fairness, strengthening enforcement of federal housing laws, and by reevaluating the loan approval process to consider a broader range of creditworthiness factors.

State housing finance agencies like VHFA can also play an important role in dismantling barriers to homeownership for low- and moderate-income households by offering mortgages with low interest rates and low down payment options as well as down payment and closing cost assistance.


Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on February 15, 2018 - 8:58am

Chittenden County has the biggest imbalance between its share of VT jobs and homes, according to recent VHFA analysis. Although 33% of the state's jobs are in Chittenden County, the state is home to only 28% of the state’s workers and only 25% of the state’s homes. This is likely caused in part by workers living in Franklin County, where the share of homes outnumbers the share of jobs, who commute to Chittenden County for work.

Washington County also has an imbalance similar to Chittenden’s, but on a much smaller scale.

Data sources include Vermont Dept. of Labor job opening tabulations. Vermont’s Labor Market Information tables on UI covered employment and labor force).  The share of homes is based on the most recent Census ACS estimates available (2016 for Chittenden and 2012-2016 for all other counties).  

Posted by: Will White on February 14, 2018 - 1:25pm

The Vermont Resident Service Coordinators (VRSC) has an event coming up! in March, David O'Leary will be speaking about hoarding intervention techniques. David is a Housing Retention Specialist with the Burlington Housing Authority who specializes in hoarding and squalor cases. He joined BHA in 2015 after two years of domestic violence advocacy at STEPS to
End Domestic Violence (Formerly Women Helping Battered Women).

David also serves as co-coordinator of the Chittenden County Hoarding Task Force, the first of its kind in Vermont. David attends the Clinical Psychology Graduate Program at Saint Michael's College and will graduate with his Master's Degree in Clinical Psychology in May, 2018. David offers an approach to hoarding & squalor intervention based on evidence-based techniques, but believes that a humanistic & compassionate foundation lies at the heart of his work.

"Hoarding: Persistent difficulty discarding or parting with personal possessions, even those of
apparently useless or limited value…the large number of possessions fill up and clutter the
active living areas…and prevent normal use of the space…symptoms cause clinically
significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning…
(Proposed DSM-5 Criteria for Hoarding Disorder, 2012)."

Admission is FREE for Vermont Resident Service Coordinators & Vermont Housing Managers Association members. Non-members are invited to attend for $10 (includes admission & lunch).

RSVP to Susan.Ainsworth-Daniels@champlainhousingtrust.org

CC: Dhemmings@maloneyproperties.com

When: Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Registration 9:30 am—10:00 am

Training 10:00 am—12:00 pm

Lunch & Networking 12:00-12:30 pm

VRSC Member Meeting 12:30-2:00 pm

Where: Royalton Academy Building - 4266 VT Route 14, South Royalton, VT 05068

Sponsored By:
Vermont Housing Managers Association
Burlington Housing, & VHFA

Posted by: Mia Watson on February 12, 2018 - 2:58pm

2017 was another highly successful year for Vermont Housing Finance Agency. 

In fiscal year 2017, VHFA financed $76 million in home mortgages to help 483 households move into affordable homes. VHFA’s programs saved homebuyers an average of $5560 through the ASSIST down payment assistance program and other closing cost savings, enabling many young Vermonters to purchase their first home with less financial strain.

Once again, VHFA was the single largest funding source for the construction and rehabilitation of affordable apartments in Vermont, providing $75 million in housing tax credits and loans to grow and preserve 823 homes for low-income renters.

VHFA continued to serve as a coordinator, advocate, and information resource for partner housing organizations and policy makers to advance its mission to promote affordable housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income Vermonters.

Reflecting staff enthusiasm and commitment to this mission, VHFA was yet again ranked as one of the top five small places to work in Vermont by the Vermont Business Magazine and the Vermont Chamber of Commerce. 

Read the full 2017 Annual Report to learn more about VHFA's efforts to increase access to affordable housing in Vermont communities over the last year.