-A A +A


By: Mia Watson on 1/10/2019

The CVOEO Fair Housing Project, through its Thriving Communities initiative, is creating an online Housing Committee Toolkit, which will include success stories, best practices, and resources for existing local groups and communities who want to learn more about housing committees. The toolkit is intended to stimulate community conversations, local leadership, and policy change to increase inclusive, fair, and affordable housing.

As part of this effort, we are contacting community leaders all over the state to find out more about local housing challenges, what is happening on the ground, and what resources and support are needed to take the next steps. The short survey is intended for municipal officials, and includes questions about the challenges to meeting local housing needs, and whether or not a town has a housing needs assessment, housing trust fund, or housing committee. Other community members are welcome to use the survey to share their thoughts about local barriers to housing affordability.

Thank you for taking a few minutes to complete this survey, or for sending it along to the appropriate person in your town or region. The deadline to complete the survey deadline is January 18, 2019.


If you have any questions, contact Jess Hyman, CVOEO Fair Housing Project Education and Outreach Coordinator, at 802-660-3456 x 110 or jhyman@cvoeo.org. For more information about the Thriving Communities initiative and the Housing Committee Toolkit, visit www.thrivingcommunitiesvt.org/toolkit

By: Mia Watson on 1/9/2019

Executive Director Maura Collins announced that Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) has hired Seth Leonard of Winooski for the newly created position of Managing Director of Community Development. Leonard comes to VHFA from the USDA Office of Rural Development, where he served as Housing Program Director for Vermont and New Hampshire. Prior to that, Leonard worked at VHFA for four years as Homeownership Outreach Coordinator.

“Seth’s experience with multifamily rental housing, his familiarity with VHFA programs, and his leadership skills will be a valuable addition to the agency’s staff,” Collins remarked. “We love welcoming previous employees back ‘home’ to VHFA, and Seth’s integrity, knowledge, and style make him perfect for this role.”

As Managing Director of Community Development, Leonard will oversee the agency’s rental housing development and management activities as well as supporting the Executive Director in government and community relations and the development of new initiatives.

Until recently, Leonard also served as the mayor of the city of Winooski for four years.  During his tenure, Leonard was a strong advocate for affordable housing, and Winooski saw many reforms to encourage new development, including revising the Winooski Municipal Master Plan and zoning codes.

VHFA is a non-profit agency created in 1974 by the Vermont Legislature 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 8,800 affordable rental apartments.

By: Mia Watson on 1/8/2019

As the federal government shutdown continues into its third week, many in the affordable housing community have expressed concern about what it might mean for their programs. Vermont Housing Finance Agency will remain open throughout the shutdown. However, some of the federal program funding that VHFA and its partners administer may be affected if the shutdown persists. 

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), has released a contingency plan outlining the status of its programs during the shutdown.  Much of HUD funding for multifamily affordable housing is disbursed through local public housing agencies (PHAs), which are not part of the federal government and therefore continue to operate. However, these organizations receive significant federal funding, and may not be able to carry out normal activities in the event that the shutdown lasts for an extended period of time.

Under HUD’s plan, HUD staff who process funding for the Office of Housing will work on a limited basis to process payments and contract renewals. However, any new funding actions that require HUD staff involvement cannot be processed during the shutdown. Payments for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance will continue to be disbursed, and Homeless Assistance Grants will continue to be fully funded. HUD will continue to disburse block grant funds (CDBG, HOME) that have already been allocated in prior year budgets. HUD will continue payments for Project-Based Rental Assistance (Section 8, rent supplement, Section 236, and project rental assistance contracts), contingent on the availability of existing funds. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, funding for project-based assistance is currently in place for January, but may become uncertain if the shutdown continues into next month.

USDA Rural Development

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development (RD) 502 homeownership program is the primary source of government guarantee loans for home purchases in the state of Vermont. During the shutdown, RD will not process new loan requests under the 502 Direct or Guarantee programs. Under USDA’s contingency plan, RD offices at the state level are shut down completely.

Vermont also receives funding for multifamily affordable housing through USDA Rural Development programs. The Section 521 Rental Assistance, Section 542 Rural Housing Vouchers will continue until funding is exhausted, however, USDA suggests that a shutdown of more than two weeks is likely to have a “significant impact” on its programs.

VHFA Home Loans

Despite the substantial wide-reaching challenges the shutdown creates, most VHFA mortgage programs are not affected at this point, and VHFA continues to accept loan reservations. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Veterans Administration (VA) continue to process home loans. Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans will continue to be processed, though due to HUD’s reduced staffing, processing of FHA loans may occur more slowly than usual.  Although RD will not process new loan requests during the shutdown, VHFA is still receiving reservations for RD guaranteed loans. Vermonters preparing to buy a home with VHFA financing should continue to work with their participating lender, who can best advise them on navigating the approval process during the shutdown.


By: Zach Nelson on 1/4/2019

VHFA is pleased to announce the 2018 Top Performers across the local Vermont banks, credit unions and mortgage companies who participate in the VHFA single family homeownership program.  VHFA's participating lenders are essential to meeting VHFA's mission to provide homeownership opportunities for low to moderate income Vermont households.

Please join VHFA in congratulating the following organizations and individuals who originated the highest VHFA mortgage loan production volume in 2018:














The VHFA single family homeownership program is offered through a network of local lenders. Consumers apply for a VHFA mortgage program directly with those lenders. VHFA celebrates all of our participating lenders who share VHFA's commitment to helping low to moderate income Vermont households achieve homeownership. For a complete list of VHFA participating lenders please access http://www.vhfa.org/homebuyers/lenders.

By: Leslie Black-Plumeau on 12/27/2018

Vermont’s economy is growing but not in every county, and its gains have disproportionately benefited higher income Vermonters, according to the 2018 update of “State of Working Vermont” from Public Assets Institute. Poverty is distinctly more prevalent among younger Vermonters and Vermonters of color, the report notes.

The northwestern part of the state accounted for all job growth in Vermont in the last decade, according to the Public Assets Institute report.  While employment grew in Chittenden, Franklin and Washington counties, the remaining counties lost 15,000 workers. 

Why are income trends so important for affordable housing programs?  Housing is affordable when income and housing costs are balanced.  Housing with associated costs that consume no more than 30% of a household’s income is typically considered “affordable.”  It is this connection that makes understanding the income side of the scale critical to most effectively building communities where residents have affordable housing.  The report finds that in 2017, nearly two-thirds of Vermont households with incomes under $50,000 were living in unaffordable housing.