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Posted by: Mia Watson on 3/21/2018

In January, Vermont Housing Finance Agency was instrumental in the sale of nearly $37 million in Vermont Property Transfer Tax Revenue Bonds. Proceeds from these bonds, sold as sustainability bonds due to their intended use, support the Housing for All initiative to construct and preserve affordable housing across Vermont. Project development is underway. Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB) has already awarded proceeds from the housing bonds to 15 planned affordable housing projects.

Projects include an apartment building in Brattleboro, where the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust will build 23 rental units. The energy efficient building will be located near essential services and transportation, and will offer a community room, office space for service providers, and a small commercial space. The apartments will be affordable to low-income residents with incomes from 50-120% of median income. Of the $6.8 million total cost of development, $3.9 million will be supported by the proceeds of the housing bonds.

VHCB has awarded $425,000 in housing bond proceeds towards the rehabilitation of the historic Woolson Block building in downtown Springfield (pictured) by the Springfield Housing Authority. The project will create 15 affordable apartments and 4 units of transitional housing for youth at risk of homelessness between the ages of 18 to 24, along with an apartment for a live-in supervisor. This project will also be supported by federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits awarded by VHFA.

Proceeds from the bonds will also fund $600,000 in accessibility improvements to homes and apartments statewide by the Vermont Center for Independent Living. These efforts will help seniors and those with disabilities to stay in their homes and remain part of their communities.

"We were very pleased to use our experience working with financial partners and investors on the bond sale to maximize the funds raised for the Housing for All initiative," remarked VHFA's Executive Director Sarah Carpenter. “It is exciting to see the bond proceeds in action with these projects”  

Revenue from bonds will ultimately construct or rehabilitate 550-650 homes statewide over the next two to three years. To learn more about these projects, visit VHCB’s website or read their 2017 Annual Report.

Posted by: Mia Watson on 3/19/2018

VHFA is delighted to congratulate Beth Pearce, who has been selected by Emerge Vermont to receive the 2018 Governor Madeleine Kunin Lifetime Achievement Award. In addition to serving as Vermont State Treasurer, Pearce also has a seat on the VHFA Board of Commissioners.

Emerge Vermont’s mission is to encourage women to run for political office at all levels of government in Vermont. The Governor Madeleine Kunin Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded to a Democratic woman living in Vermont with political accomplishments spanning at least 25 years. Award winners are chosen based on their policy work expanding opportunities for Vermonters and serving as a role model for Vermont women and girls.

Pearce has almost 40 years of experience in government finance. She was appointed to her first term as Vermont State Treasurer in 2011 by Governor Shumlin, and has since been reelected three times. She is the current President of the National Association of State Treasurers and also serves as the Secretary of the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers. In 2015, Pearce received NASACT's President's Award for national leadership in state government transparency.

"Beth is very deserving of this honor," remarked VHFA's Executive Director Sarah Carpenter. “VHFA has benefited greatly from her financial expertise and leadership.”  

Governor Kunin will present the award to Pearce on March 24th in Burlington at the Annual Celebration of Women in Politics.

Posted by: Mia Watson on 3/15/2018

Elm Place, an apartment building in Milton that was developed with support from Vermont Housing Finance Agency, won three national awards for its use of energy efficient design. The project was developed and is managed by Cathedral Square. The building, which opened its doors last spring, offers 30 units of affordable rental housing for seniors. The project was supported in part by $6.3 million in federal housing tax credits allocated by VHFA.

This project was the first multifamily building in Vermont certified to meet the standards of the Passive House Institute US. “Passive house” structures use a combination of materials and design to dramatically reduce the amount of energy needed for heating and cooling, enabling buildings like Elm Place to use roughly 65% less energy than comparable buildings. Some of the energy-saving strategies used at Elm Place include cold climate air source heat pumps, a rooftop solar array, and LED lighting.

Elm Place received three awards from the 2017 Passive Projects Competition: Best Overall Project, Best Multifamily Project, and an Honorable Mention in the Affordable Project category. The awards were based on energy performance, design, craftsmanship, use of environmentally-friendly materials, level of difficulty for the given climate and site, and cost effectiveness.

This innovative project demonstrates that affordable housing design can be attractive, functional, and sustainable. 

Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on 3/6/2018

H.R. 766, the bill that includes an expansion of  VHFA’s Down Payment Assistance Program, was approved by the Vermont House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development last week.  Since the program started in 2015, demand among qualified first-time home buyers has been twice what can be funded through the Vermont Affordable Housing Tax Credit, the program’s designated funding source. 

The roughly $5,000 in assistance the program provides to each borrower is especially critical for young  first-time home buyers who are making starting salaries and facing Vermont’s relatively high closing costs. The 600 home buyers  the program has served so far have had an annual income of $65,000, purchased a home costing $160,000 and are 31 years old, on average. 

H.R. 766 also includes a homeowner’s rehabilitation tax credit that would be overseen by the Vermont Downtown Development Board and an expansion of the successful Downtown Development Tax Credit program.  Last Friday VHFA’s Executive Director Sarah Carpenter testified in support of the bill before the House Ways and Means Committee. VHFA and other supporters are hopeful that consideration of the bill will continue as part of the State House's “Downtown Day” scheduled to take place when the Legislature resumes on March 13th. 

Pictured: Dorothy Pfende is one of the 600 first-time Vermont home buyers who have used the Down Payment Assistance Program since it started in 2015. by P. Detzer. 

Posted by: Mia Watson on 3/2/2018

Residents of Windy Hollow Cooperative in Castleton are celebrating the successful purchase of their mobile home park, which was assisted by Vermont Housing Finance Agency. The creation of the housing co-op will help retain affordable homes for 44 households.

The cooperative was formed after the previous owner, HGWH Inc., issued a notice of its intent to sell the park in 2015. Under Vermont law, residents of mobile home communities in Vermont have the option to purchase properties before they are offered to the public. If the park had been sold to another owner, residents could have been subject to increases in rent or possibly displaced. The residents opted to form a cooperative to pursue the sale. Over the next three years, the park went through a lengthy process of inspections and reviews to allow the sale to go through.

The park was finally purchased for $1.04 million on February 15th. Vermont Housing Finance Agency was the primary mortgage lender, providing a direct loan of $954,000. The project also received support from a variety of other partners, including the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, the Cooperative Fund of New England, Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity, the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, and the Cooperative Development Institute of Massachusetts.

“We were pleased to be able to assist with this purchase,” remarked VHFA Executive Director Sarah Carpenter. “VHFA recognizes the importance of sustainable solutions to preserve affordable housing”.

By forming a cooperative, residents of Windy Hollow will have control of bylaws and budget, and are in the process of upgrading and maintaining the park’s water system and other infrastructure. Demand for the lots has been high. According to the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, all 44 lots are currently occupied.