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By: Mia Watson on 7/12/2019

Earlier this week, the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) launched the Zoning for Great Neighborhoods project, an initiative aimed at helping Vermont cities and towns break down the regulatory barriers preventing them from meeting the housing needs of Vermonters.

Although many Vermont cities and towns have acknowledged the need for more housing, including a variety of different home sizes, home types, and price points, municipalities often have outdated zoning requirements that constrain new development or redevelopment. It was very common in the 1960s and 1970s for towns to adopt boilerplate zoning codes that heavily prioritized suburban development over downtown infill, and many municipalities have not completely overhauled these codes since then. These codes often require unnecessarily large lot sizes and other restrictions that make it difficult to build the walkable neighborhoods close to work, schools, and services that both millennials and seniors want to live in.

Many towns and cities are interested in reevaluating their zoning bylaws to promote housing and lower costs associated with development, but do not have the staff resources to devote to the project. Zoning for Great Neighborhoods will help provide guidance and model bylaw language as well as launching a campaign to heighten public awareness of the need for flexible housing options and updated zoning codes.

Led by the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development, the Zoning for Great Neighborhoods project is supported by the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, AARP-VT, and the Vermont, Green Mountain and National Association of Realtors. The project will receive technical assistance from the nonprofit Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) and Vermont’s Regional Planning Commissions.

Mallory Baches, Program Manager for CNU, remarked, “The main goal of this project is to meet communities where they are: assess local capacity, provide strategic support, and offer practical solutions that enable great neighborhoods.” 

The project began with DHCD’s survey of municipalities and housing stakeholders to identify factors that add to the cost of housing and undermine neighborhood vitality, the results of which will be released in the coming weeks. The project’s next steps will involve meeting with communities, analyzing typical local regulations, and proposing alternatives that can support the types of homes needed. The full toolkit for municipalities will be completed by this spring, 2020. 

By: Mia Watson on 7/10/2019

Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) is seeking a Chief Financial Officer (CFO). This position is responsible for the direction, management and oversight of the financial, accounting, audit, Information Technology (IT) and investment areas of VHFA. The CFO oversees the development and implementation of financing structures that support the Agency’s loan programs, including the sale and management of VHFA tax-exempt and taxable bonds.

VHFA is seeking applicants with a problem-solving approach and strong ability to analyze, interpret and present financial concepts and conclusions. This position manages a team of financial professionals with diverse responsibilities.  Must be highly organized, able to set priorities and meet the goals of the Agency. Our next CFO will be tasked with working with a team to identify new sources of capital to support our lending programs. The CFO also assists with the implementation of strategic initiatives for the Agency as a member of the Executive Management team.

Named a “Best Small/Medium Place to Work in Vermont” several times by Vermont Business Magazine, VHFA offers a competitive salary and an excellent benefits package.  For a detailed job description and benefits overview, visit www.vhfa.org/careers.

To apply, send cover letter (required), resume, salary requirements and references to the Human Resources Department at HR@vhfa.org by Monday, July 29, 2019.

VHFA is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to a diverse workplace. We highly encourage women, persons with disabilities, and people from diverse racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds to apply.


By: Mia Watson on 7/1/2019

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

There are vacancies in 93 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:  Roaring Branch Apartments in Bennington



By: Mia Watson on 6/27/2019

Earlier this week, local leaders, housing developers and new residents gathered in White River Junction to celebrate the opening of Wentworth Community Housing. The project, developed by Twin Pines Housing and Housing Vermont, created 30 one and two bedroom apartments, 21 of which will be rented at rates affordable to low income Vermonters. The project received the majority of its funding from federal tax credits and a loan awarded by VHFA.

Wentworth Community Housing will help respond to the desperate need for housing in the Upper Valley, which has a rental vacancy rate of just 1.5 percent. Although the area is a major job hub, area employers report that a lack of affordable housing has become a major challenge in attracting and retaining workers, potentially hindering the economic growth of the region.

The 21 subsidized apartments at Wentworth Community Housing will have rents affordable for households making less than 60 percent of the area median income, which would be $34,115 or less. These affordable apartments include five homes for formerly homeless and at-risk households, which will receive supportive services from The Upper Valley Haven and Veterans Affairs.

One new resident, Jill Aube, told NBC5 news, "I just feel absolutely blessed to find something like this that's in my price range that I won't have to worry about counting every penny or paying heating oil."

The $9.7 million project received over two-thirds of its funding from VHFA, including $645,000 in federal tax credits, which were sold to investors to raise an estimated total of $5.7 million in equity for construction, as well as a $700,000 permanent loan. This project also received funding from Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB), the Vermont Community Development Program (VCDP), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) HOME program.

Residents will begin moving in on July 9.

Photo courtesy of Twin Pines Housing

By: Mia Watson on 6/25/2019

Last week, the state increased funding for affordable homeownership when Governor Phil Scott signed a bill passed by the Legislature which will add over a million dollars for homeowners in Vermont.

Revenue Bill H.541 increases the Vermont Affordable Housing Tax Credit program by $250,000 for FY20. This increase is expected to result in just under $1.2 million more for affordable homeownership initiatives once the tax credits are sold to investors.

Half of this money will support the Down Payment Assistance program (DPA) administered by Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA). Since 2015, VHFA’s ASSIST DPA program has helped over 1,000 Vermonters and their families purchase their first homes. VHFA estimates that an additional 230 households will become homebuyers as a result of the funding increase.

The other half of the Vermont Affordable Housing Tax Credit program funding will subsidize the creation or rehabilitation of affordable homes for ownership, including energy efficient manufactured housing that can replace old and inefficient mobile homes.

“Owning a home makes young households more likely to stay in the state, and expanding this program will help employers attract and retain the workers needed for Vermont to thrive,” remarked Maura Collins, VHFA’s Executive Director.

“Becoming a homeowner helps build long-term wealth,” Collins continued. “Getting a 30-year mortgage when you’re 30 means it’s possible to have a home paid off by the time you may retire. However, Vermont’s high home prices makes it difficult for many households to afford their first homes and they delay their purchase.”

The median Vermont home sold for $215,000 in 2018, but households earning the median income of $58,000 would only be able to afford a home price of $197,500

The new funding for the state’s homeownership programs help fills this gap, enabling Vermont families to afford to become homeowners. VHFA’s DPA program, called its ASSIST program, offers up to $5,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance, which can often be one of the most significant obstacles to homeownership.