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Posted by: Mia Watson on January 23, 2018 - 1:31pm

The Vermont House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs is holding hearings on rental housing health and safety issues. The Committee will hear from tenants, advocates, and health and housing experts on their concerns regarding unsafe rental conditions and gaps in health code enforcement.  

This action comes as a new report has been released from Vermont Legal Aid, documenting renter difficulties in resolving health and safety issues with landlords. The report finds that many tenants are not fully aware of their rights, and that fear of eviction and lack of affordable housing alternatives frequently prevent tenants from reporting health code violations. It also reports that town health officers are often unpaid volunteers who lack the experience and time to adequately address health code violations. The report calls for a statewide system to register and certify rental properties, increased penalties for health code violations, professionalization of the role of town health officers, and the creation of more affordable rental housing.

36% of Vermont’s rental housing stock was built before 1940, which is much higher than the national average, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Older homes are often poorly insulated and have ineffective heating systems. Safety issues such as asbestos, lead paint, rodent infestations, and leaks that can cause mold are also more likely to be encountered in older dwellings.

Eight years ago, the Legislature established a Rental Housing Safety and Habitability Study Committee to study these issues. The committee was chaired by VHFA’s Executive Director, Sarah Carpenter. The committee issued a report with some of the same recommendations that Vermont Legal Aid now proposes. "Sorry to say that not a lot of them have been implemented in the last seven years," remarked Carpenter. "It's time to resurrect them."

The House hearings are scheduled to continue this Thursday, January 25th.   

Posted by: Mia Watson on January 22, 2018 - 2:11pm

VHFA is proud to recognize staff who participated in the Employee Volunteer Program (EVP) in 2017.

The EVP program recognizes our responsibility to help enrich our surrounding communities of residence and work. VHFA encourages its employees to become involved in their communities, lending their voluntary support to programs that positively impact the quality of life within these communities. The program allows all regular VHFA employees one additional day of Combined Time Off each calendar year to volunteer in a community program.

Nine VHFA staff volunteered a total of 58 hours in 2017, a value of well over $2,000. Participation in the program has increased steadily over the past three years.

Below are some of the organizations where VHFA staff have volunteered:

Cancer Patient Support Foundation

Dragonheart Vermont

Essex Town PTO

King Street Youth Center Summer Boost Program

LUND Kids A Part

Mount Mansfield Universalist Unitarian Fellowship

Pathways Vermont

US Maher Friends

Shelburne Charlotte Hinesburg Interfaith Projects

(Pictured: VHFA staff members Sara Everest, who volunteered at King Street Youth Center, Steve Gronlund, who volunteered with Shelburne Charlotte Hinesburg Interfaith Projects, and Brenda Howley, who volunteered with Dragonheart Vermont and US Maher Friends). 

Posted by: Mia Watson on January 19, 2018 - 2:24pm

Executive Director Sarah Carpenter announced that Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) has hired Sarah Woodward of Barre for the position of Development Underwriter. Woodward comes to VHFA from Aeon in Minneapolis, Minnesota where she worked as a site manager and compliance technician for affordable housing developments. Sarah is a graduate of the University of Vermont who previously worked for the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity on mobile home parks and other housing issues.  

“Sarah’s experience in managing affordable housing projects will be a valuable addition to the Agency’s development staff”, Carpenter remarked. Woodward will work with the Development Department to oversee the allocation of housing tax credits and VHFA loans to developers building and renovating rental housing projects.  

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.

Posted by: Mia Watson on January 18, 2018 - 4:33pm

The American Red Cross will be hosting an open house in Swanton on Friday, January 19th from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Saturday, January 20th from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM for residents affected by the recent flooding. The events will share resources from a variety of agencies and non-profit organizations to help area residents recover and rebuild. Trained specialists will be on hand to offer personalized assistance.

The events will be held at the Swanton Village Municipal complex at 120 First Street. For questions please contact 802-868-3397. 

Posted by: Mia Watson on January 12, 2018 - 12:07pm

New England Resident Service Coordinators Inc. is calling for nominations for its annual Excellence in Service Award. The award recognizes outstanding performance among Resident Service Coordinators, housing management companies, and others working in the field of housing services in New England.

To nominate an individual or an organization that is making a difference for residents in housing communities or advancing the resident service profession as a whole, send a completed nomination form to Andrea Dobras.

Nominations must be received by March 15, 2018