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Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on May 30, 2017 - 10:07am

Allyson Laackman has been appointed as the executive director of the Burlington Housing Authority (BHA), the organization’s board of commissioners announced today. 

Laackman, who was recruited in December as interim co-executive director to help lead the organization through a strategic planning process, has a distinguished career in public service, including serving as the White House’s chief financial officer.

“Allyson has impressed all of us on the board of commissioners with her energy and enthusiasm for BHA’s mission,” said Michael Knauer, the chair of BHA’s board of commissioners. 

“Safe, affordable housing should be the foundation of our community, and I’ve been deeply moved by the work that BHA’s team does every day across Chittenden County to serve our residents,” Laackman says. “I believe that we are well-positioned to build on the terrific work of BHA and our community partners to help address the region’s affordable housing crisis. I’m deeply committed to ensuring that all Burlington-area residents have quality, stable, affordable housing.”

BHA owns or manages 680 rental units across 31 properties around the area, and administers HUD's rental assistance programs, which provide $21 million to help ensure safe, affordable housing for 2,600 families. The agency serves residents in Burlington, South Burlington, and Winooski, as well as portions of Colchester, Essex, Essex Junction, Shelburne, St. George, and Williston.


Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on May 26, 2017 - 12:41pm

New England Federal Credit Union (NEFCU) President/CEO John J. Dwyer, Jr. announced today a $1 million grant from NEFCU to Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) to address the critical need for affordable housing. The money will be awarded by VHFA over the coming year to several housing developments that have funding shortfalls.

The grant is a bold step toward helping Vermont’s 30,000 low-income renter households who receive no housing assistance but face rents that are out of line with their income. More than half of the state’s low-income renters live in Addison, Chittenden, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille and Washington counties—the 6 counties served by NEFCU.

“We are delighted to help increase the number of homes that are affordable to those Vermonters who struggle the most,” Dwyer remarked. “We have also heard from area employers about lack of affordable workforce housing and look forward to using this money to support the local economy,” he continued.

Due to its long-standing role running the state’s largest affordable rental housing development programs, VHFA was given the million dollars and will underwrite and select projects to receive the funds.

Sarah Carpenter, VHFA’s Executive Director, explained that “the NEFCU funding will allow us to meet the immediate funding needs of two development projects in South Burlington and Montpelier.” Both projects are located in downtown areas and will house low-income renters facing extremely tight housing markets.

In South Burlington, money will be awarded for the construction of “Allard Square,” located in the new City Center neighborhood. Allard Square will be a service-enriched residential building that includes 29 apartments for low income seniors and another 10 market-rate units. Cathedral Square Corporation is developing the project with Snyder-Braverman Development Company. 

The second project to receive funding will be the historic French Block building in downtown Montpelier. This project involves the rehabilitation of the upper two floors of French Block, an Italianate-style, brick block built in 1875 across from City Hall on Main Street in downtown Montpelier. The building is being redeveloped to include 14 apartments for low-income Vermont renters and 4 market rate apartments. The development is sponsored by a partnership between Downstreet Housing and Community Development and Housing Vermont. The redevelopment plan includes creating 15 one-bedroom apartments and 3 studio apartments. The project is registered with the National Green Building Standard and the building itself is a contributing structure in the Montpelier Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on May 25, 2017 - 9:43am

Amidst songs, odes, laughs and tears, VHFA staff celebrated the many achievements and enduring friendships of Sam Falzone.  Sam is retiring this week, after a distinguished 38 years at VHFA directing the agency’s rental housing programs. 

Sam’s commitment to preserving and monitoring Vermont’s stock of affordable rental housing benefited thousands of low-income renters across the state.  More than 8,600 much-needed affordable apartments financed through the housing tax credits and direct loans provided by VHFA are monitored by Sam’s department.

VHFA staff celebrated Sam at Sweetwater’s Restaurant on Tuesday, having him “cross the finish line”, serenading him with the “Sam Jam” band’s “My retirement” (to the tune of Jimmy Buffet’s “Margaretville”) and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, an ode by Dave Adams and many appreciations from Sarah Carpenter.  Sam remarked that he was most proud of the legacy he created in the highly effective multifamily staff that will continue on at VHFA.

Check out VHFA’s Facebook page for more photos and fun in Sam’s honor. 

Photo by Madison Noyes


Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on May 15, 2017 - 10:49am

John Thompson addressed hundreds of data users at their annual conference Thursday while news broke of his abrupt resignation as director of the U.S. Census Bureau. Several experts pointed out the great challenges Thompson’s resignation creates. Meanwhile, Census officials and analysts strategized about how to most effectively use the Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) estimates to provide much-needed information about conditions facing the population. 

Since Vermont’s population is so small, ACS estimates for our communities are often based on a very small number of households. This makes assuming that their responses are the same as all households more risky, especially in smaller towns. For this reason, Vermont’s Housing Data Website provides indicators of data reliability along with every ACS data piece for each community and county statewide.

At last week’s conference, Census Bureau officials described ways that the ACS and 2020 Census data collection efforts are collaborating and investigating the supplemental use of administrative sources such as IRS income data to provide the most reliable information possible, given limited available Census Bureau funding. Other changes planned by the Bureau to data especially relevant to housing analyses include:

  • Altering the way information is collected about the year dwelling units are built
  • Revising the approach to counting student residents
  • Updating and improving Compass handbooks 
Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on May 5, 2017 - 3:09pm

The annual count of people living in Chittenden County who are homeless decreased by 12% from the previous year, according to the Chittenden County Homeless Alliance. This continues a declining trend that has brought the number of people who are homeless in the county down 45% over the past four years. The Chittenden County Homeless Alliance, which VHFA has partnered with since 2003, is a coalition of individuals, organizations, and government who support a vision of a safe, decent, affordable, stable home for every person and family in Chittenden County.

Maura Collins, VHFA’s Director of Policy & Administration, who attended the event where the data was released said, “Prioritizing people who most need assistance first, sharing information and resources, and working together has helped reduce homelessness in our community. That said, the shared goal of ending homelessness will only be achieved when there is adequate funding for affordable housing targeted towards people with very low incomes. The housing bond being discussed by the Vermont State Legislature is exactly the kind of investment that can continue this reduction so we can meet that goal of ending homelessness.”

Mayor Miro Weinberger also touted the bond, urging the legislature to pass the new investment to increase housing opportunities in the region.

Pictured: Miro Weinberger, Mayor of Burlington, Erin Ahearn, Community Health Centers of Burlington and Margaret Bozik, Champlain Housing Trust at the press event releasing the new data.