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By: Mia Watson on 4/10/2019

Today marks the date in 1974 that Governor Thomas Salmon signed legislation creating Vermont Housing Finance Agency. In the 45 years since then, we've helped over 29,000 Vermont households become homeowners and have provided financing, development and management support, subsidy administration and tax credits to approximately 8,800 rental apartments. In total, 15 percent of all Vermont homes and over 136,000 Vermonters have been assisted through VHFA.

The 1970s were a time of instability in the housing market across the country, including Vermont. Rising interest rates and steadily growing home prices coupled with high unemployment made it increasingly difficult for families to afford to buy homes. At the same time, the federal government sharply curtailed funding for the construction of public housing, leaving few resources for new affordable rental housing. Many states responded to these concerns by establishing Housing Finance Agencies (HFAs) like VHFA, which were given the authority to sell tax-exempt bonds to finance affordable mortgages.

As the housing landscape changed, VHFA changed with it. When the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program was established in 1986, VHFA became responsible for allocating tax credits to developers of affordable rental housing. In 1988, VHFA established its first program for down payment assistance for homebuyers. In 2003, VHFA created the Vermont Housing Data website, which continues to be the largest single source for Vermont housing information. In 2009, in the midst of the Great Recession, VHFA created the Housing Assistance Rehabilitation (HARP) program with federal stimulus funds, which involved purchasing and rehabilitating foreclosed homes and reselling them to qualified low- and moderate-income buyers. After Hurricane Irene destroyed large numbers of mobile homes in 2011, VHFA helped create an award-winning program that provides down payment assistance to income-eligible Vermonters purchasing energy efficient manufactured homes.

Throughout its history, VHFA has been a leader in housing policy in Vermont, successfully lobbying for increased funding for affordable housing at the federal, state, and local level, and providing research and guidance for lawmakers, nonprofits, and media. VHFA looks forward to the challenges and opportunities that the next 45 years will bring as it continues to expand affordable, safe and decent housing opportunities for Vermont.

Visit VHFA’s website to view an interactive timeline of major milestones.

Pictured: Painting of VHFA headquarters painted by staff member Polly Thibault

By: Mia Watson on 4/8/2019

The State of Vermont’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) will be holding a public hearing to receive comments on its draft of the 2019 HUD Annual Action Plan at 5:30 PM this Thursday, April 11 at the Bethel Town Hall.

The Consolidated Plan outlines priorities for the use of approximately $13 million in federal funds Vermont will receive for affordable housing in the upcoming program year (July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020). Programs covered by the plan include the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and HOME program, administered by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development and the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, respectively, and the Emergency Solutions Grant, administered by the Vermont Agency of Human Services.

VHFA Executive Director Maura Collins was recently appointed to the Community Development Advisory Board, which awards grants under the CDBG program. She also sits on the Consolidated Plan Advisory Group.

Proposed changes to the Consolidated Plan include setting aside CDBG funds for Scattered-site Housing Revolving Loan Funds, reducing the match requirements for most CDBG grants to 10 percent, and increasing the maximum Access Modification grant award to $100,000.

DHCD continues to accept written feedback in addition to comments during the public hearing. Meeting details and the full draft 2019 Consolidated Plan are available on DHCD’s website.

By: Mia Watson on 4/5/2019

Do you need an affordable apartment or know someone who does?  

There are vacancies in 57 different apartment complexes across the state, according to the Vermont Directory of Affordable Rental Housing. Learn more about particular units by clicking on the development name below, or by visiting the vacancy profiles on the website.

Pictured: Downstreet Apartments in Barre

Property Namesort descending Street Address City/Town Vacant Units Apts restricted to elderly and/or tenants with disabilities
137-139 Benmont Neighborhood 137-139 Benmont Avenue Bennington 2 0
14 Birge Street 14 Birge Street Brattleboro 1 0
86 Raymond Street 86 Raymond Street Lyndon 1 0
Abbott Neighborhood Housing 10 & 18 Canal Street; 172 Elliot Street and 12 & 16 Horton Place Brattleboro 1 0
Abenaki Acres Bushey Street Swanton 1 0
Adams House 8 & 10 South Park Place Fair Haven 1 1
Addison Housing Limited Partnership 97 - 101 Main Street Vergennes 1 0
Alburgh Family Housing 2 Carle Street; 4 North Main Street and 6 North Main Street Alburgh 1 0
Alfred Court Apartments 20 Airport Road Fair Haven 3 0
Applegate Apartments Applegate Drive Bennington 13 0
Arlington Village Center Apartments 3658 - 3662 VT Route 7A Arlington 3 0
Avenue Apartments 1201 North Avenue Burlington 1 0
Barre Street Apartments 39-40 Barre Street Montpelier 3 0
Bemis Block Housing 41 South Main Street Hardwick 1 1
Ben South 120-126 Benmont Avenue and 501-507 South Street Bennington 3 0
Bennington Historic 50 & 100 Carrigan Lane, 316-318 Safford Street, 233 School Street and 119-121 Pleasant Street Bennington 5 0
Benson Heights 2747 Stage Road Benson 1 1
Black River Overlook 146, 147 & 161 Rublee Lane Ludlow 1 0
Bradford Village Apartments 110, 125 & 142 Meadow Lane Bradford 4 0
Bristol Family Housing 2066 - 2070 Hunt Farm Road. Bristol 2 0
Bromur Apartments 2 - 8 & 1 - 21 Bromur Street Barre City 1 0
Colonial Village 59 & 63 S Pleasant St and 94 & 128 S Main St Bradford 2 0
Cora B. Whitney 814 Gage Street Bennington 1 1
Coventry Senior Housing 10 Covered Bridge Road Coventry 1 0
Cummings Street Apartments 21-25 Cummings Street Montpelier 2 0
Depot Street 211, 213 & 215 Depot Street Bennington 1 0
Downstreet Apartments 22 Keith Avenue Barre City 2 0
Downtown Crossing 302 & 304 South Street and 343 - 349 School Street Bennington 1 0
French Block Apartments 34 Main St Montpelier 1 0
Good Neighbors 81 Elm St Barre City 1 0
Green Mountain Seminary 201 Hollow Rd Waterbury 1 0
Hebert Farm Apartments 21 & 23 Hebert Road Montpelier 1 0
Heritage Court 624 York Street Poultney 1 1
Highgate Apartments Highgate Drive Barre City 9 0
Hollister Hill Apartments 42 & 94 Austin Road Marshfield 6 0
Island Pond 19 Walnut Street, 190 Derby Street, 74 Mountain Street, 84 Elm Street Brighton 2 0
Keen's Crossing 65 - 85 Winooski Falls Way; 15 Cascade Way and 16 Abenaki Way Winooski 6 0
Mad River Meadows 144 Butcher House Drive Waitsfield 2 2
Manchester Knoll 35 - 83 Torrey Knoll Manchester 5 0
Newport Senior Housing 107 & 119 Main Street Newport City 1 0
North Branch Apartments 87 & 89 Elm Street; 6 & 8 Monsignor Crosby Ave and 47 Barre Street Montpelier 5 0
Norwich Senior Housing 4 Dorrance Drive Norwich 1 1
Park House 16 Park Row Box 4 Rochester 4 0
Parker House 129 Church Street Rutland City 1 0
Regency Manor Haywood Avenue Rutland City 0 0
River Station Apartments 191 Barre Street Montpelier 3 0
Riverview Apartments 73 Westminster Street Rockingham 1 0
Roaring Branch 132-134, 136-138 & 140-142 Benmont Avenue and 100-111 & 113-115 Roaring Branch Lane Bennington 1 0
Sadawga Springs 9 School Street Whitingham 2 0
Southview Apartments 30 Stanley Road Springfield 1 0
Spear House and Spear House Apartments 69 Main Street North Newbury 1 0
Stimson and Graves 12 Stowe St Waterbury 1 0
Vermont Arts Apartments - Shaftsbury 10-12 & 14-16 Greenwich Street Shaftsbury 2 0
Waits River Apartments 64, 68, 108, 234, 245 South Main Street; 33 South Pleasant Street and 25 Cobblestone Street Bradford 1 0
West River Valley - Assisted Living 461 Grafton Road Townshend 2 0
West River Valley - Independent Living 451 Grafton Road Townshend 2 0
Wheeler Brook Apartments 19, 31 & 71 Wheeler Brook Drive Warren 2 0
By: Mia Watson on 4/3/2019

National Fair Housing Month is held every April to celebrate the anniversary of the passage of the 1968 Federal Fair Housing Act. At the same time, it is an opportunity to increase our efforts to end housing discrimination and raises awareness of housing rights.

Vermont has always been one of the least diverse states in the country. Historically, less discrimination and segregation was written into our legal codes than in other parts of the county, leaving many Vermonters to assume that we do not have the same problems with fair housing. However, many groups of Vermonters have faced and continue to face significant challenges in accessing housing. A 2014 report from Vermont Legal Aid found numerous instances of landlords declining to rent to Black Vermonters and renters of foreign origin in favor of White renters. The report also found that landlords often resist renting to families with children and renters with disabilities, both of which are protected groups under the Fair Housing Act. A report from the State of Vermont found that as many as 70 percent of newly constructed apartments had at least minor issues with ADA compliance and another 10 percent had significant compliance issues.

Inequality manifests not only in outright discrimination, but also a lack of advantages and opportunities. Vermonters of color and disabled Vermonters are far more likely to be cost-burdened, paying more for housing than they can afford. The rate of homeownership among Black Vermont households is just 22 percent according to the latest Census Bureau estimates, while the rate for White households is 71 percent.  Nationally, the rate of homeownership among Black households is 42 percent.

In many ways, Vermont has been a trailblazer in legislation and policy to protect equal opportunity. Vermont’s Fair Housing Act is more expansive than the Federal Fair Housing Act, adding protections against housing discrimination on the basis of marital status, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, and receipt of public assistance, in addition to the federal prohibition of discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, and sex. Yet it is clear that we still have much work to do to ensure that all Vermonters have access to safe, decent, and affordable housing.

Vermont Legal Aid and CVOEO’s Fair Housing Project have a variety of housing information available for those who wish to learn more, including resources for Vermonters who are facing discrimination. The Thriving Communities initiative has published a calendar of events for Fair Housing Month, including landlord education and renter’s rights workshops, community awareness dinners, and a public art contest.

By: Mia Watson on 3/27/2019

Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA)’s HousingData.org website has recently been updated to display the latest housing data available. The data updates include the newly released 2017 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as 2018 home sales data from the Vermont Department of Taxes.

The website’s Community Profiles offer data for every Vermont town and county, helping planners, nonprofits, government agencies, and elected officials identify housing needs. The profiles display data and vetted community housing indicators based on a variety of national and Vermont-based sources. The site, which has been maintained by VHFA since 2003, was overhauled this past fall to display new interactive data visualizations and offer a wider range of information than ever before.

Since the launch, several new data sets have been added to the site, including wages by occupation, median gross rent by number of bedrooms, and housing stock by number of bedrooms. The site’s affordable home price calculator, allowing users to determine affordability based on the price of the home and the household income, has also been updated. VHFA has also created several tools to compare towns and villages incomes to residents countywide and to assess town home price affordability based on county incomes. By comparing local conditions to the larger area, municipalities can more easily examine whether their housing supply fits the needs of current and potential residents.  

The site will be updated as new data is available, and new data visualizations continue to be added to the site regularly.