-A A +A

VHFA News

By: Mia Watson on 3/12/2020

New national research from the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation finds that children who grow up in housing funded by the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program (LIHTC) program are more likely to enroll in higher education programs and have higher earnings as adults. The federal LIHTC program, which is administered in Vermont by VHFA, is the largest single source of funding for affordable rental housing development in the state.

Using tax records, the study compared outcomes among people who had lived in LIHTC-funded housing for different periods of time. The study found that every year spent living in LIHTC housing as a child corresponded to a 3.5 percent increase in the likelihood of attending a four-year higher education program and a 3.2 percent increase in earnings as an adult.

The study suggested several possible reasons for the improved outcomes. If the LIHTC apartments were located in a more affluent neighborhood than families would otherwise be able to afford, the children could be benefiting from attending better schools, with access to more supportive resources. However, the improvement in outcomes persisted even the study when controlled for factors such as the income and poverty rates of the neighborhood. Alternatively, increased financial stability from living in LIHTC housing could result in parents having more time and resources to devote to their children. In addition, a more stable living situation has been demonstrated to improve educational outcomes among children.

Tenants living in VHFA-financed housing experience higher levels of housing stability than other renters. The median VHFA tenant has lived in their apartment for four years and three months, compared to two years for all Vermont renters, according to Census Bureau estimates. Vermont’s lower income renters likely move even more often than the median for all renters, given that low-income households generally tend to move more frequently than high-income households.

This study adds to the growing body of evidence on the importance and effectiveness of the LIHTC program. LIHTC tenants tend to have much lower incomes than most renters and would struggle to find affordable housing without subsidized apartments. Tenants in VHFA-financed apartments earn a median income of $16,702 annually compared to $37,759 for all Vermont renters. Subsidized housing can result in better health outcomes for tenants through improved financial security, reduced stress and a safer living space. LIHTC housing can also positively impact the neighborhood in which it is built, increasing property values and tax revenue and decreasing crime rates.

Pictured: Wentworth Community Housing in White River Junction. Photo courtesy of Housing Vermont. Wentworth was developed using Low Income Housing Tax Credits awarded by VHFA. 

Categories:
By: Mia Watson on 3/9/2020

Recently on Recovery Day at the Statehouse, the Vermont Alliance of Recovery Residences (VTARR) announced the establishment of Jenna’s Fund, which provides financial support for recovery housing for Vermonters overcoming substance use disorders. The initiative is funded in large part by a $90,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston (FHLB), obtained by Vermont Housing and Finance Agency (VHFA).

“Many individuals reentering their communities after treatment struggle financially and are unable to cover the initial costs of stay at a recovery residence. Their alternative all too often is to return to the environment that fueled their substance use to begin with.” remarked VHFA Executive Maura Collins.

Recovery housing offers a supportive alcohol and drug-free environment for individuals in recovery. These homes are community-based and peer-centered, with an emphasis on establishing employment and healthy lifestyles. Academic research on communal recovery housing has found that participants had significantly lower relapse and incarceration rates than individuals in outpatient programs.

Jenna’s Fund is named in memory of Vermonter Jenna Tatro who lost her life to substance use disorder last year. Her parents, Dawn and Greg Tatro, initiated the fund in her memory. The fund will be invested in partnership with the Vermont Community Foundation. VTARR will disburse proceeds to support individuals leaving rehabilitation facilities to pay for their stay at certified recovery residences for several weeks until they can obtain employment to pay for their own expenses.

Earlier this year, VHFA applied for funding from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston (FHLB) to support the creation of the fund, with FHLB committing $90,000 for the effort.  

Ken Willis, Vice President from FHLB said that, “providing services and safe, stable housing to people who are recovering from alcohol and substance abuse is critical, and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston is pleased that we were able to invest in this special Vermont fund to help individuals with their recovery.”

By: Leslie Black-Plumeau on 3/3/2020

This week marked VHFA’s offering of the lowest interest rates in the agency’s history for Vermont homebuyers. Rates as low as 3.0% became available on 30-year mortgages made through VHFA’s programs, available exclusively through its statewide network of participating lenders.

“This rate helps us extend the dream of homeownership to more people than ever before,” said VHFA Executive Director Maura Collins. “Every quarter point we can lower interest rates puts the monthly payment on a typical Vermont home within the range affordable for more potential first-time home buyers.

The rate reduction follows last month’s successful sale of $24.5 million in multiple purpose bonds for mortgages to qualified Vermont home buyers. VHFA’s bonds received a Fitch rating upgrade to AA+ in January.  Higher ratings reduce the cost of issuing bonds and ultimately helps VHFA borrowers through lower interest rates.

According to the National Association of Realtors, pending home sales rose nationally in January as the housing market became more favorable and buyers became more confident.

The traditional benefits of a VHFA mortgage make these new, low-rate mortgages even more affordable for qualified buyers. VHFA borrowers always save up to $625 at closing because the first $110,000 of the property purchase price is exempt from the Vermont Property Transfer Tax. First-time home buyers are also eligible for up to $5,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance and a mortgage interest rate as low as 3.25%. 

In addition, VHFA loans carry no loan level pricing adjustments or loan delivery fees from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. They also have lower mortgage insurance coverage requirements, lower premiums, and expanded eligibility.

More information on VHFA’s new low rates, other programs, and local participating lenders are available on its website.

By: Mia Watson on 2/27/2020

Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) is proud to announce that it has signed the Vermont Equal Pay Compact through the Vermont Commission on Women. The compact is a pledge by Vermont employers to show their commitment to closing the wage gap. The Vermont Commission on Women offers signers support and strategies for creating an equitable workforce.

“VHFA is excited to show its support for building fairer workplaces,” explained Steve Gronlund, VHFA’s Director of Human Resources and Administration. “Not only is it the right thing to do, it will also encourage the Agency in its ongoing effort to recruit and retain a highly qualified and motivated workforce,” Gronlund continued.

According to Census Bureau estimates, Vermont women earn a median wage of $30,142, which is 18% less than the median wage of $36,927 for men. National research has shown that the wage gap persists even when controlling for the type of work and education levels of workers. Although the gender gap has narrowed substantially since the 1980’s, little progress has been seen in closing the wage gap at the national level in the last 15 years.  

“Around five years ago, VHFA took a closer look at its pay structure.  We examined our job grades by gender and found some areas where we could make improvements.  With the full support of our Board and Executive Management, we have been making steady gains,” remarked Gronlund. “Since 2016 we have reduced the pay gap at VHFA by 7% and are fully committed to reaching 100% pay equity in the very near future.”

VHFA has implemented a number of other policies that help support women, and all its employees, including paid parental leave, telecommuting, educational assistance, an Employee Volunteer Program and generous health care coverage. 

By: Mia Watson on 2/24/2020

The median Vermont primary home sold for $229,000 in 2019, according to Property Transfer Tax records, a 6.5% increase from 2018. This is the largest single year increase in median home prices since before the Recession, and a substantial increase over recent years’ home price growth. Since 2014, Vermont median home prices have increased by an average of 2.7% per year.

Statewide, the median single family home sold for $235,000, the median condominium sold for $216,000 and the median mobile home with land sold for $95,000. The number of non-vacation homes in the state increased from 7,401 in 2018 to 7,898 in 2019. However, the total volume of home sales in Vermont has yet to reach pre-Recession levels.

The increase in home prices has been uneven across Vermont. Franklin, Grand Isle, Washington and Windsor counties experienced higher price increases than the state as a whole. Meanwhile, median home prices in Bennington and Orleans counties decreased from 2018 to 2019. However, it is important to note that county-level home prices in Vermont tend to fluctuate much more than the state as a whole. The median home price actually declined slightly in Franklin, Grand Isle, and Windsor counties between 2017 and 2018. 

County

Median 2019 home sale price

% increase from 2018

Addison County

 $ 246,500

2.7%

Bennington County

 $ 191,000

-2.1%

Caledonia County

 $ 150,000

0.7%

Chittenden County

 $ 323,955

6.6%

Essex County

 $ 115,000

2.7%

Franklin County

 $ 224,550

10.1%

Grand Isle County

 $ 255,000

13.3%

Lamoille County

 $ 228,000

6.0%

Orange County

 $ 179,475

0.3%

Orleans County

 $ 150,000

-1.6%

Rutland County

 $ 157,900

5.3%

Washington County

 $ 223,000

11.2%

Windham County

 $ 190,000

0.8%

Windsor County

 $ 200,000

10.2%

Vermont

 $ 229,000

6.5%

The large increase in Vermont home prices occurred mainly during the second half of the year. During the first six months of 2019, the median Vermont home sold for $219,500, only 2% higher than the 2018 median price. The rapid increase in home prices during the second half of 2019 was experienced across the country. Housing market analysts point to several factors causing the national jump in prices, including decreases in mortgage interest rates this summer, a strong job market and decreasing inventory of available homes, increasing competition among buyers and driving up prices.   

Despite a strong economy, high home prices continue to make it difficult for Vermonters to afford to purchase homes, particularly first-time buyers. To be able to afford the 2019 median home price of $229,000, a household would need to earn at least $65,529 per year. However, the median Vermont renter household earns just $35,759.

Vermont Housing Finance Agency’s homeownership programs can help make it easier for homebuyers to purchase, by offering low fixed rates, 0% down payment options, down payment and closing cost assistance up to $5,000 and annual federal income tax credit for borrowers when they choose a Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC). 

Pages