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VHFA News

By: Leslie Black-Plumeau on 6/9/2020

Until the recent COVID-19 restrictions, the number of Vermont homes used as short-term rentals has ticked up each year, according to a recent analysis by Vermont Housing Finance Agency. In a typical month last year, about 8,000 homes were listed as short-term rentals across the state. Largely located in towns located near Vermont ski areas, homes rented for short-term stays comprise about 2.5% of the state’s total housing stock, according to data from AirDNA, a service that aggregates listings from Airbnb, VRBO, and other popular short-term rental companies.    

Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) analyzed five years of short-term rental data as part of the 2020-2025 Vermont Housing Needs Assessment.  The assessment was conducted for the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development who is responsible for the state’s consolidated planning for housing programs.  Most of the data used in the assessment, including information about short-term rentals, is available at the state, county and town level on the Vermont Housing Data website which is updated throughout the year by VHFA. 

“Knowing how many Vermont homes are available as short-term rentals is critical to identifying changing patterns in property usage and all the factors that impact the housing market," remarked Josh Hanford, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development.  “This assessment and the new online data tools will help us monitor trends and inform our ongoing work to address housing needs throughout the state,” Hanford explained.

The number of Vermont homes used in a typical month as short-term rentals increased by 12% between 2018 and 2019.  Short-term renting of entire homes is a relatively recent practice in Vermont.  In 2015, just over 1,000 homes statewide were listed as short-term rentals, according to AirDNA.

During the first half of May 2020, industry analysts reported an upturn in short-term rental bookings in large U.S. tourist destinations.  If this pattern also holds true in Vermont, the COVID-19 pandemic is not likely to thwart the increasing popularity of Vermont short-term rentals.

Short-term rentals generate substantial economic activity for Vermont, for the hosts of the units, surrounding communities as guests visit shops, restaurants, and other businesses.  On the biggest earning weekends in 2019, Vermont Airbnb hosts earned $15.1 million and served about 69,800 guests, according to paper published by Dartmouth University students earlier this month.  

“Our assessment revealed that many of the short-term rental homes in Vermont are listed on AirBnB and similar sites only for selected nights each month,” remarked VHFA Executive Director Maura Collins.  This can occur if a homeowner lists a home that is their primary, year-round residence as a short-term rental to tap the home’s earning potential as temporary lodging while the owner is away.  “In these cases, short-term renting is not edging out a year-round renter, because the home is the primary residence of the owner,” Collins explained.

In a typical month, an estimated 2,700 Vermont homes are listed as short-term rentals for selected nights, but not for the entire month.

“Where we grow concerned is when we see that an owner can rent a home for just five nights before earning more than a landlord can earn in a month, housing Vermont’s workforce,” Collins continued. “We are excited we can now help the state hone in on the potential housing market impacts of short-term rentals,” she said.

In 2019, an estimated 5,300 homes, 1.8% of all Vermont homes, were used consistently throughout a typical month as short-term rentals. By comparison, 17% of the state’s housing stock is comprised of seasonal homes, according to Census Bureau estimates as of 2017.  Next to Maine, this is the second-highest rate of seasonal homes in the nation.

Despite the growth of Vermont’s stock of seasonal homes, the number of homes occupied by year- round residents has changed very little since 2010, according to the 2020-2025 Vermont Housing Needs Assessment.  

By: Eric Hoffman on 6/8/2020

Homebuyers - especially first-time homebuyers - usually have questions about where to start and where to find special programs. To answer these and other questions, VHFA is hosting a one-hour webinar to explain how VHFA programs can help eligible homebuyers. Topics will include:

  • VHFA programs and benefits
  • VHFA eligibility requirements
  • How to find a participating lender and get started
  • Where to start if homebuyers are not quite ready to contact a lender

WHEN
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
10 a.m., 2 p.m., 6 p.m. EST

Register

VHFA can help homebuyers stretch their buying power!

Vermont is an attractive place to live with a limited housing supply. Home prices tend to remain high, even through economic downturns. This is good news for homeowners, but not-so-good-news for first-time homebuyers looking to get their foot in the door. Luckily, VHFA is here to help eligible homebuyers with special programs, including:*

  • Low competitive rates
  • Down payment requirements as low as 0% - 3%, and
  • Up to $5,000 closing cost and down payment assistance with VHFA ASSIST**
  • Tax breaks and lower private mortgage insurance where applicable

Interested homebuyers can contact a local VHFA participating lender today!

 VHFA offers all of its programs through local participating banks, credit unions and mortgage companies. The first step in the homebuying process is to contact a VHFA participating lender. A complete list of participating lenders can be found at VHFA's website. Interested homebuyers are encouraged to contact a participating lender to ask about eligibility and if VHFA would be their best option.  

VHFA is here to help!

Homebuyers who are not quite ready to contact a lender can contact HFA with any questions at  VHFAhomeownership@vhfa.org or (802) 652-3461. 

*Income and other eligibility requirements apply for all VHFA programs, for more details please visit vhfa.org or speak with a participating lender.

**VHFA ASSIST is a 0% loan that borrowers repay only when they sell or refinance in the future.

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By: Caroline Rubin on 6/5/2020

Mental health update– June 9

Presented by Thomas Burr, NAMI Connecticut, Inc.

This webinar will educate participants on mental health and mental illnesses, explore the role that trauma plays in mental health, as well as the stigma that mental health holds in society. The session will provide tips for maintaining good mental health, teach participants how to identify someone who may be struggling, and how to best support them and connect them to resources. The session will also explore the latest research and treatment options.

WHEN
Tuesday, June 9, 2020
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Eastern Time

Register

Reducing the impact of trauma exposure for those who care for others – July 7

Presented by Alicia Davis & Stacie Watson, Transformative Leadership Strategies

In this highly interactive session, participants will learn to identify signs and symptoms of Compassion Fatigue and Vicarious Trauma and assess how they may be personally impacted by the nature of the care and support they provide. Participants will identify strategies for coping with and preventing the mental/emotional impact of working with people experiencing trauma, and practice strategies related to improving self-awareness, mindfulness practice, and resiliency.

WHEN
Tuesday, July 7, 2020
1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Eastern Time

Register

Using AASC online for the HUD SFS Report – July 14

Presented by Jill Chance, Pangea Foundation

In this webinar, participants will learn how Resident Service Coordinators can use the AASC Online software to compile data for their HUD Standards for Success report. The session will show how this is done at the resident level, and how items such as services and programs factor into the overall resident service counts for the report. The webinar will also show property wide tools to review and QA data before it is submitted. Finally, the session will show participants how to submit the report when it is due in October.

WHEN
Tuesday, July 14, 2020
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Eastern Time

Register

Using family metrics for the HUD SFS Report – July 16

Presented by Jill Chance, Pangea Foundation

This session will educate participants on how Resident Service Coordinators can use the FamilyMetrics software to compile data for their HUD Standards for Success report—showing how this is done at the resident level, and how items such as services and programs feed into the overall resident service counts for the report. The session will also show property wide tools to review and QA data before it is submitted. Lastly, this webinar will demonstrate how to submit the report when it is due in October.

WHEN
Thursday, July 16, 2020
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Eastern Time

Register

By: Mia Watson on 6/3/2020

Earlier this week, the Local Support and Community Action Team released its interim report with recommendations on how Vermont can begin its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The team is a part of the Economic Mitigation and Recovery Task Force charged by Governor Scott with identifying recovery initiatives and best practices. VHFA Executive Director Maura Collins is a member of the Action Team.

The Local Support and Community Action Team reached out to business and community leaders and the general public for input. Among the concerns that emerged include the recognition that retail, hospitality, tourism and vulnerable populations will be hardest hit by the crisis, the importance of high speed broadband access, a critical need for support of local food systems, and the importance of adaptability and communication as we respond to the crisis.  

The report emphasized six preliminary recommendations, including ending family homelessness, activating local food systems to feed Vermonters, supporting childcare and youth programming, restarting the Vermont Small Business Loan and Grant Program, implementing a statewide buy local challenge, and expanding broadband infrastructure.

Ending family homelessness is of key concern for VHFA and its housing partners. The state was able to respond quickly to the needs of homeless Vermonters at the start of the COVID outbreak, moving individuals from congregate shelters to hotel rooms and campers to reduce the risk of exposure. As the state recovers, the Action Team recommends that the State start with a focus on ending family homelessness, investing in the housing supply, rental assistance, and social services to stabilize families and prevent future homelessness.

The Local Support and Community Action Team will continue to develop strategies for recovery, including establishing quantitative recovery measures and metrics to assess Vermont’s progress.

By: Maura Collins on 6/2/2020

The Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) is heeding the call Governor Phil Scott made ealier this week “to reflect on what role each of us can play to end hate, racism and bigotry.” As our nation grapples with complex discussions around institutional racism, the housing industry must be a focal vehicle for both analysis of past racism and how we can work toward eradicating institutional racism in the future. To do this we need to examine the role VHFA can play to address the reality that housing policy and finance has been used to perpetuate racial inequalities.

VHFA staunchly stands by our mission to finance and promote affordable, safe, and decent housing opportunities, and we know that housing can be the best way to end poverty, promote health, spark economic growth for families and neighborhoods, and create vibrant communities.

Yet we must acknowledge the clear evidence that housing has been used as a tool to divide communities, perpetuate unfair educational opportunities, and reduce wealth. For many, this has led to poor health, inadequate nutrition and health care, crumbling infrastructure, insufficient services, generational poverty, overcrowding, debt, strained families, and the racial divides we have today.

VHFA, and many of our partners, are proud to be equal opportunity employers and lenders. Together, we work to expand housing opportunities to all people, regardless of race. Unfortunately, inequities persist and, in some ways, have worsened. The homeownership rate of African Americans in Vermont in the 1970s (when VHFA was launched) was 31 percentage points less than white households. Today this gap has grown to 51 percentage points.

Additionally, despite intentionally working hard to actively diversify our recruitment and connections, only 5% of our staff are people of color, despite our home office being in a city with 17% people of color. So while VHFA has always worked hard to reflect our communities, we can do better.

Our organization is ready to take the next steps of action. We will be more deeply examining if access to our programs is limited by race. We also will disaggregate our programmatic data by race in more meaningful ways, engage more people of color in our work, and help support communities to become more welcoming and inclusive, as part of our upcoming three-year strategic plan. As a mission-driven housing lender in Vermont we will continue to pursue more opportunities to act well after this immediate crisis passes.

Please hold us accountable. As the Governor said yesterday, “in the greatest country in the world, no one should stand for this, no one should make excuses for this, and no one should ignore this. We must ALL make clear: enough is enough.”

VHFA remains committed to taking concrete steps to ensure Vermont affordable housing resources are tools for achieving equality and ending racism.

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