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Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on May 1, 2017 - 10:46am

Housing affordability challenges in high-cost cities often overshadow the enormous housing challenges in rural America. Though the situation is more extreme in metro areas, rural areas and small towns also face significant shortages of affordable and available rental housing, as most very low-income Vermonters well know.

As this housing affordability gap map from the Urban Institute (UI) illustrates, nearly every U.S. county lacks enough affordable housing to meet residents’ needs, a crisis that is particularly urgent for extremely low-income (ELI) households. Nationally, only 46 adequate and affordable rentals are available for every 100 ELI renter households—and without federal support, this problem would be significantly worse, according the UI's recent study

Housing costs in rural areas are often lower than in metro areas, but so are incomes. In 2010, the rural poverty rate was 18 percent, compared with a 15 percent urban poverty rate.  

In Vermont, HUD and USDA rental assistance enable the state to provide adequate, affordable housing for 51 to 66 percent of it's extremely low-income households, depending on the county. Without federal assistance, only 5 to 31% of these households would be housed adequately and affordably.

Use the map, to find statistics and assess how federal assistance impacts conditions where you live. 

Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on April 28, 2017 - 4:17pm

The White House announced today that it intends to nominate Pamela Patenaude to serve as Deputy Secretary for Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Patenaude is currently president of the J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for America's Families, an organization that seeks to elevate housing's place on the political agenda.

Patenaude has held a variety of housing policy positions in both the public and private sectors. She served as Director of the Bipartisan Policy Center's Housing Commission and had the opportunity to hear about Vermont’s housing issues at a national hearing in Maine in 2012. She also spoke at the Vermont Statewide Housing Conference in 2012.

Pam has served as HUD Deputy Secretary for Community Planning and Development under President George W. Bush and as HUD's White House liaison under President Reagan. She also previously administered the Section 8 program for the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority.


Posted by: Will White on April 27, 2017 - 11:08am

The At-Risk Children grant is open to social service providers, community centers, afterschool programs, refugee services organizations, shelters, low income housing programs, Head Start programs, early childhood education programs, and a wide range other groups throughout Vermont and New Hampshire that serve low-income or at-risk infants and children up to age 12 (or a portion of that age range).

The application deadline is May 15, 2017 for programming that will take place in the Fall of 2017.

The At-Risk Children grant includes a professional storytelling presentation, brand new, high quality books for children to choose and take home, and an onsite library for the organization. Many sites also choose to include a parent seminar to help families learn the importance of sharing books with children and strategies to do so, even if the parents are not strong readers themselves.

For more information about the At-Risk Children grant, eligibility requirements, and a link to the online application, please visit http://clifonline.org/literacy-programs/at-risk-children/ or contact Program Manager Jana Brown at jana@clifonline.org.

The Summer Readers grant is open to summer programs serving children from birth to age 12 all across VT and NH.  The program works with summer camps of all kinds, nutrition programs and summer meal sites, libraries, parks and rec. programs, and school-based summer programming.  This grant is for programming which will take place during the Summer of 2017.

The Summer Readers grant includes a visit to your summer program by one of CLiF's professional presenters for a storytelling event followed by a free book giveaway for each child in attendance.  This is a fantastic way to highlight the importance of summer reading!  The deadline to apply is May 15, 2017.

For more information about the Summer Readers grant, eligibility requirements, and a link to the online application, please visit http://clifonline.org/literacy-programs/summer-readers/ or contact Program Manager Jana Brown at jana@clifonline.org.

Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on April 18, 2017 - 9:41am

On Monday, April 17, the Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) Board of Commissioners committed federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and Vermont Affordable Housing Credits that will provide almost $37 million in upfront equity to construct and renovate housing for low-income Vermonters over the next several years.  The $2.5 million in ten-year federal capped credits, $610,000 in ten-year federal uncapped “bond” credits and $485,000 in five-year state credits will support the development of 272 affordable apartments in 11 communities across the state. VHFA permanent and construction financing totaling $7.2 million was also approved for 5 of the projects.

The equity raised when investors buy tax credits is used to pay construction and renovation costs for apartments rented to low-income Vermonters. Housing tax credits are the single largest source of funding for the development of affordable rental housing. This year’s credit awards are expected to cover 55 percent of all development costs for the 11 upcoming projects. 

“This year VHFA faced twice as many applications for tax credits as we could approve,” explained Sarah Carpenter, Executive Director of VHFA. “Although all of the projects under consideration would help expand Vermont’s extremely tight supply of affordable rental housing, limits on the amount of federal and state credits available each year hamper our state from more fully addressing this long-standing shortage.” One remedy would be passage of the $35 million housing bond proposed in Governor Scott’s 2018 budget and currently under consideration by the Vermont Legislature.

The investments made by VHFA this week will fund the construction of new apartments that will be affordable for the long-run in Burlington, Putney and South Burlington. They will also pay for complete renovations and secure the long-term affordability of existing apartments in Brattleboro, Bristol, Hardwick, Middlebury, Montpelier, Newport, Poultney and Springfield.  Many of these buildings will be developed through partnerships between regional housing organizations and Housing Vermont, a statewide, non-profit developer and tax credit syndicator.

Nineteen new Springfield apartments for low income renters will be constructed as part of the redevelopment of the historic, mixed-use Woolson Block building in the city’s downtown area. Currently in a state of disrepair, the building will be renovated to include 15 affordable apartments and 4 service-enriched, transitional housing units for youth between the ages of 18 and 24 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Springfield Housing Authority is the sponsor for this project.

Three historic buildings in Hardwick Village will be rehabilitated to maximize energy efficiency and ensure the long-run durability and affordability of 18 apartments for low income renters. This project is sponsored by Lamoille Housing Partnership.

The Putney Landing project will create 23 affordable apartments for low and very low income renters. Eighteen apartments will be constructed and five additional apartments created through renovations at the existing Noyes House. The project will be developed by Windham and Windsor Housing Trust.

South Burlington’s “City Center” (pictured) will be the location of a new service-enriched residential building providing 29 apartments for low income seniors and another 10 market rate units. Cathedral Square Corporation is developing the project with Snyder-Braverman Development Company. 

In Burlington's large “Cambrian Rise” project on North Avenue, housing credits will help create 52 apartments for low income Vermonters and 24 additional market rate apartments. Champlain Housing Trust is sponsoring this project.

At the same meeting VHFA’s Board of Commissioners awarded Vermont State Affordable Housing Credits to 7 affordable rental housing development projects across the state. One of these projects, City Center Senior in South Burlington, also received federal allocated housing credits. The other 6 projects are acquisition/rehabilitation efforts, almost all of which will receive federal bond credits to help cover costs. They will generate 94 affordable apartments in Brattleboro, Bristol, Middlebury, Montpelier, Newport and Poultney.

The VHFA Board also awarded $85,000 of Vermont State Affordable Housing Tax Credits to two homeownership developments in Colchester. This will generate about $390,000 to keep the sales price of 18 condominiums affordable for eligible buyers.

In addition to housing credits, other funding sources for these developments include permanent financing provided by VHFA as well as grants and loans from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the federal HOME program, the National Housing Trust Fund, the Federal Home Loan Bank’s Affordable Housing Program, local housing trust funds, NeighborWorks, the Vermont Community Development Program and USDA Rural Development.

The Vermont Legislature created VHFA in 1974 to finance and promote affordable housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income Vermonters. Since its inception, the Agency has helped approximately 29,000 Vermont households with affordable mortgages and financed the development of approximately 8,600 affordable, safe and decent rental units.


Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on April 12, 2017 - 3:22pm

Housing developers, business leaders, smart growth policy experts and poverty advocates joined together to support the passage of a $35 million housing bond this afternoon at a press conference at Vermont’s State House in Montpelier. 

Recommended in Governor Scott's budget proposal, the housing bond would address a significant need for affordable housing in Vermont, help to alleviate homelessness, house the workforce, and provide expanded homeownership opportunities for Vermonters.

The housing bond, as proposed, would be issued by VHFA , which would deposit the proceeds into the State’s Housing and Conservation Trust Fund. At least 25% of the homes funded with bond proceeds would likely be targeted at the lowest income Vermonters and another 25% would be targeted at homes affordable to households earning 80%-120% of median income. Statewide, median income for a family of four is $70,200. The bond would be repaid over 20 years.

“Every night, our shelter, just like shelters across the state, is full of people who need and deserve a home,” said Sara Kobylenski, Executive Director of the Upper Valley Haven, based in White River Junction. “We have allowed ourselves to slide into an alarming housing deficit, and the most vulnerable people in our communities are suffering for it. It’s time to support a $35 million housing bond.”

The $35 million housing bond would also act as a stimulus package, generating millions of dollars of economic activity through the creation of hundreds of jobs and the purchase of goods.

“Housing construction is critical piece of our economic engine, and this proposal promises to create hundreds of good paying jobs. It’s also vital to employers who say time and time again how hard it is for their employees or prospective employees to find adequate, affordable housing,” said Tom Torti, President and CEO of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“Housing investment has the ability to revitalize communities, and that’s just what Rutland needs,” added Elisabeth Kulas, Executive Director of the Housing Trust of Rutland County. “We’re looking forward to continuing to move our community forward and this $35 million housing bond will make our neighborhoods more livable."