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VHFA News

Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on April 18, 2017 - 9:41am

On Monday, April 17, the Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) Board of Commissioners committed federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and Vermont Affordable Housing Credits that will provide almost $37 million in upfront equity to construct and renovate housing for low-income Vermonters over the next several years.  The $2.5 million in ten-year federal capped credits, $610,000 in ten-year federal uncapped “bond” credits and $485,000 in five-year state credits will support the development of 272 affordable apartments in 11 communities across the state. VHFA permanent and construction financing totaling $7.2 million was also approved for 5 of the projects.

The equity raised when investors buy tax credits is used to pay construction and renovation costs for apartments rented to low-income Vermonters. Housing tax credits are the single largest source of funding for the development of affordable rental housing. This year’s credit awards are expected to cover 55 percent of all development costs for the 11 upcoming projects. 

“This year VHFA faced twice as many applications for tax credits as we could approve,” explained Sarah Carpenter, Executive Director of VHFA. “Although all of the projects under consideration would help expand Vermont’s extremely tight supply of affordable rental housing, limits on the amount of federal and state credits available each year hamper our state from more fully addressing this long-standing shortage.” One remedy would be passage of the $35 million housing bond proposed in Governor Scott’s 2018 budget and currently under consideration by the Vermont Legislature.

The investments made by VHFA this week will fund the construction of new apartments that will be affordable for the long-run in Burlington, Putney and South Burlington. They will also pay for complete renovations and secure the long-term affordability of existing apartments in Brattleboro, Bristol, Hardwick, Middlebury, Montpelier, Newport, Poultney and Springfield.  Many of these buildings will be developed through partnerships between regional housing organizations and Housing Vermont, a statewide, non-profit developer and tax credit syndicator.

Nineteen new Springfield apartments for low income renters will be constructed as part of the redevelopment of the historic, mixed-use Woolson Block building in the city’s downtown area. Currently in a state of disrepair, the building will be renovated to include 15 affordable apartments and 4 service-enriched, transitional housing units for youth between the ages of 18 and 24 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Springfield Housing Authority is the sponsor for this project.

Three historic buildings in Hardwick Village will be rehabilitated to maximize energy efficiency and ensure the long-run durability and affordability of 18 apartments for low income renters. This project is sponsored by Lamoille Housing Partnership.

The Putney Landing project will create 23 affordable apartments for low and very low income renters. Eighteen apartments will be constructed and five additional apartments created through renovations at the existing Noyes House. The project will be developed by Windham and Windsor Housing Trust.

South Burlington’s “City Center” (pictured) will be the location of a new service-enriched residential building providing 29 apartments for low income seniors and another 10 market rate units. Cathedral Square Corporation is developing the project with Snyder-Braverman Development Company. 

In Burlington's large “Cambrian Rise” project on North Avenue, housing credits will help create 52 apartments for low income Vermonters and 24 additional market rate apartments. Champlain Housing Trust is sponsoring this project.

At the same meeting VHFA’s Board of Commissioners awarded Vermont State Affordable Housing Credits to 7 affordable rental housing development projects across the state. One of these projects, City Center Senior in South Burlington, also received federal allocated housing credits. The other 6 projects are acquisition/rehabilitation efforts, almost all of which will receive federal bond credits to help cover costs. They will generate 94 affordable apartments in Brattleboro, Bristol, Middlebury, Montpelier, Newport and Poultney.

The VHFA Board also awarded $85,000 of Vermont State Affordable Housing Tax Credits to two homeownership developments in Colchester. This will generate about $390,000 to keep the sales price of 18 condominiums affordable for eligible buyers.

In addition to housing credits, other funding sources for these developments include permanent financing provided by VHFA as well as grants and loans from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the federal HOME program, the National Housing Trust Fund, the Federal Home Loan Bank’s Affordable Housing Program, local housing trust funds, NeighborWorks, the Vermont Community Development Program and USDA Rural Development.

The Vermont Legislature created VHFA in 1974 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 8,600 affordable, safe and decent rental units.

 

Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on April 12, 2017 - 3:22pm

Housing developers, business leaders, smart growth policy experts and poverty advocates joined together to support the passage of a $35 million housing bond this afternoon at a press conference at Vermont’s State House in Montpelier. 

Recommended in Governor Scott's budget proposal, the housing bond would address a significant need for affordable housing in Vermont, help to alleviate homelessness, house the workforce, and provide expanded homeownership opportunities for Vermonters.

The housing bond, as proposed, would be issued by VHFA , which would deposit the proceeds into the State’s Housing and Conservation Trust Fund. At least 25% of the homes funded with bond proceeds would likely be targeted at the lowest income Vermonters and another 25% would be targeted at homes affordable to households earning 80%-120% of median income. Statewide, median income for a family of four is $70,200. The bond would be repaid over 20 years.

“Every night, our shelter, just like shelters across the state, is full of people who need and deserve a home,” said Sara Kobylenski, Executive Director of the Upper Valley Haven, based in White River Junction. “We have allowed ourselves to slide into an alarming housing deficit, and the most vulnerable people in our communities are suffering for it. It’s time to support a $35 million housing bond.”

The $35 million housing bond would also act as a stimulus package, generating millions of dollars of economic activity through the creation of hundreds of jobs and the purchase of goods.

“Housing construction is critical piece of our economic engine, and this proposal promises to create hundreds of good paying jobs. It’s also vital to employers who say time and time again how hard it is for their employees or prospective employees to find adequate, affordable housing,” said Tom Torti, President and CEO of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“Housing investment has the ability to revitalize communities, and that’s just what Rutland needs,” added Elisabeth Kulas, Executive Director of the Housing Trust of Rutland County. “We’re looking forward to continuing to move our community forward and this $35 million housing bond will make our neighborhoods more livable."

Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on April 4, 2017 - 9:39am

Governor Phil Scott joined Congressman Peter Welch, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and many other supporters to celebrate the opening of 14 new apartments for people facing homelessness and a newly rebuilt Daystation and Housing Resource Center.  The Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS) will oversee the apartments and operate the Daystation and Housing Resource Center, all of which are located at 95 North Avenue in Burlington’s Old North End neighborhood.

According to VHFA Executive Director Sarah Carpenter who participated in the ribbon cutting, “the urgent need for apartments to support Vermonters facing homelessness made this project a clear priority.”  VHFA-allocated federal housing tax credits were the largest housing development funding source used for the project. Housing tax credits created over $3 million in equity which covered 40 percent of the total costs of developing the apartments. Other major funding partners included COTS, the Vermont Community Development Program and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, as well as significant philanthropic and community donations. The project was developed by COTS in partnership with nonprofit syndicator and developer Housing Vermont.  

The new apartments, located on the building’s 2nd floor, will be targeted to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Seven of the 14 apartments will be fully furnished and offer service-enriched housing for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. These apartments also will receive private rental assistance through a COTS internal subsidy. The other seven apartments will provide permanently affordable housing for households with incomes below 60 percent of the HUD area median income. Twelve of the apartments are efficiencies, two have one bedroom and all have their own bathrooms and kitchens. The apartments share a common living room, laundry room and storage areas.

Photo by Kenn Sassorossi, Housing Vermont.  

Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on March 30, 2017 - 2:40pm

Please join VHFA and other housing leaders in celebrating April as Fair Housing Month! To honor the importance of Fair Housing activities in Vermont, all are welcome to the State House on Tuesday, April 4th where there will be information in the Card Room all day as well as fair housing experts on hand to answer questions or discuss recent initiatives. At 10 am there will be a reading of a Concurrent Resolution endorsing April as Fair Housing month.

As noted by the Champlain Office of Economic Opportunity,  "April has come to be recognized and proclaimed as Fair Housing Month because the Federal Fair Housing Act was signed into law on April 11, 1968.

On April 11, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, expanding the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The 1968 act prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, (and as amended) handicap and family status.

The federal Fair Housing Act was passed after a long difficult political and social struggle. Advocates in and out of Congress pushed for adoption of a fair housing bill but did not achieve passage until one week after the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King's name had been closely associated with fair housing since open housing marches in Chicago in 1966, which he helped organize and lead.

Vermont enacted laws prohibiting housing discrimination in 1987, and with that passage and subsequent amendments, Vermont law now protects against discrimination in housing on the basis of all the federal categories plus, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, and receipt of public assistance."

Posted by: Leslie Black-Plumeau on March 23, 2017 - 9:47am

VHFA is ranked again in the top five Best Places to Work among small and medium sized companies across the state by the Vermont Business Magazine. After receiving the honor of the top spot in 2016, VHFA was ranked fourth for 2017.  The award was made last night at the DoubleTree Hotel in South Burlington where Governor Phil Scott and hundreds of employees from the 45 companies ranked as finalists gathered. 

“Being recognized again in 2017 as one of the top small places to work highlights the unwavering passion of our staff for improving access to affordable housing. While I’m proud of our enduring success in providing our employees with the best workplace we can, it is their dedication that makes this one of Vermont's best places to work, ” explained Executive Director Sarah Carpenter. When accepting the award at last night’s ceremony, Carpenter was accompanied by David Adams, Chief of Program Operations; Maura Collins, Policy and Administration Director; Lori Gilding, Office Manager and Steve Gronlund, Human Resources Manager.

Companies from across the state entered the two-part selection process. The results of an employee survey counted for 75 percent of each nominated company's score. The remaining 25 percent of the score consisted of evaluating each company's workplace policies, compensation, benefits package and demographics. Companies were split into two groups--those with more than 150 employees and small and medium sized companies with 15 to 149 employees.

Pictured: VHFA’s Sara Everest, Steve Gronlund and Brenda Howley cycle home after work during the Way to Go Challenge last October. 

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