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VHFA News

By: Mia Watson on 4/24/2019

Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) is seeking feedback and comments on the Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) that guides the agency in making housing tax credit allocation decisions. The agency is opening the comment and feedback period effective April 23, 2019 and will close the period on Friday, May 24. The current version of the QAP is available on VHFA’s website.

The Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program, which is governed by Section 42 of the Internal Revenue Code, requires that each tax credit allocating agency maintain a Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) that sets eligibility and criteria for awarding state and federal tax credits to developers of affordable housing. The QAP is a compilation of IRS mandates, national best practices and state housing priorities.

In Vermont, VHFA convenes the Joint Committee on Tax Credits, which solicits public feedback, reviews the policies in the QAP and makes recommendations to the VHFA Board of Commissioners. The Board votes to adopt the plan before being sent to the Governor for approval. VHFA’s goal is to update the QAP as needed with sufficient notice that developers are able to respond accordingly and bring projects that reflect the criteria of the QAP, with a target of two years between substantial updates.

To arrive at recommendations for updates to criteria and policies in the QAP, VHFA staff facilitate public comment prior to presenting a recommended QAP. VHFA first sought public comment on this current round of updates in the fall of 2018. Staff will combine the feedback from the fall with the feedback received over the next month. Following public outreach meetings to preview an updated draft QAP leading up to the recommended QAP updates to the VHFA Board of Commissioners. Check VHFA’s website and blog for information regarding future public outreach meetings related to the QAP.

If you would like to submit comments or learn more about this process, you may reach out to VHFA’s Managing Director of Community Development, Seth Leonard at sleonard@vhfa.org or by mail at 164 Saint Paul Street, P.O. Box 408, Burlington VT 05402.

Pictured: Great River Terrace in Brattleboro. Great River was developed using state and federal housing tax credits awarded by VHFA

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By: Mia Watson on 4/22/2019

The annual Burlington Young Professionals (BYP) survey conducted by the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce reveals that 33 percent of young adults surveyed plan to move out of the area within the next four years. Among the most common challenges cited were the high cost of living, lack of job growth opportunities, and a lack of affordable housing.

The survey included 500 participants between the ages of 22 and 40 living or working in the greater Burlington region. 56 percent were renters. Survey respondents ranked the City of Burlington as the top place where they would ideally like to live in Vermont, citing work opportunities, culture, and sense of community. Yet only 30 percent of renters and just 14 percent of homeowners actually live in Burlington. Of the surveyed homeowners living outside of Burlington, 27 percent have purchased a home outside of Chittenden County entirely.

Respondents reported that the cost of housing was a major concern that could prevent them from staying in the area long term. In particular, respondents reported that they wanted to purchase a single family home rather than a condominium. The median single family home in Chittenden County cost $336,000 in 2018. This is unaffordable with the median income of $52,000 reported in the survey, even assuming a two-earner household. High home prices are compounded by a amount of significant student loan debt among young professionals, with average $424 in monthly student loan payments for those who completed the survey.

One survey participant wrote, “My spouse and I are currently living in a condo that I purchased by myself in 2015. Now that we are expecting our first child, we are looking for the jump to a house; however, the cost of a reasonably sized affordable housing & yard PLUS daycare costs in excess of $12k per year is preventing us from leaving this condo.”

This imbalance between incomes and home prices can make it difficult to save enough to purchase a home, especially for first-time buyers. Fortunately, Vermont Housing Finance Agency’s homeownership programs can help young homebuyers, including down payment and closing cost assistance up to $5,000.

By: Mia Watson on 4/18/2019

The Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) of Boston has announced its training schedule and application deadlines for the Affordable Housing Program (AHP) for 2019. The program awards approximately $20.7 million in grants and low-interest loans through member institutions to organizations promoting homeownership and rental housing opportunities for low income households.

Among the recent projects that have received funding through this program are Lake Paran, an affordable rental housing development in Shaftsbury, Vermont that will break ground in the coming months. 

To help developers and sponsors with their funding applications, FHLB Boston will be holding a free session in Montpelier on Thursday, June 13 at the Capitol Plaza Hotel. Other  trainings will be held in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on May 2, Concord, New Hampshire on June 6 and Springfield, Massachusetts on June 25. Although all sessions are free, attendees must register, and space is limited.  

FHLB's training sessions are important for any developer or lender who is planning to apply for AHP funds in 2019 or in the future.  FHLB Boston will also host a series of online webinars for applicants.

The online AHP application will be available on the FHLB Boston website starting on June 3. Applications are due by July 25. 

 

By: Heather Kvasnak on 4/17/2019

Legislative Breakfast and CE Class

Financing with USDA Rural Development and Vermont Housing Finance Agency

 

Join the Windsor County Board of Realtors for this important Legislative Breakfast.  Network with Legislators and get up to date information on legislation important to Realtors and property owners.  There are several important pieces of legislation at the State House and many more issues being discussed, including:

  • Act 250

  • Increase in license registration fees

  • Broadband

  • Housing Affordability

 

Business Meeting

The business meeting and legislative update will begin at 8:30am.  It's an opportunity to talk to Legislators one on one.  Invitations have been sent to Legislators, but if you see your Legislator, please extend the invitation as well! 

Thank you to the sponsor Mascoma Bank.

 

CE Class (2CE)

Financing with Rural Development and Vermont Housing Finance Agency

USDA Rural Development and the Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) offer opportunities for Vermonters to purchase homes with up to 100% financing, down payment assistance, and low closing costs. 

USDA Rural Development’s portion of the course will introduce Realtors to USDA’s core housing programs. 502 Direct Loan purchase option and Home Improvement Grants/Loans that are available through local RD Specialists will be addressed. The course will also overview the RD Guarantee Program that is available through local Vermont banks, credit unions, and mortgage companies. RD programs are the most commonly used federal financing program in the state of Vermont for single family home purchase, making this opportunity for realtors to learn more critical to their success in the market. 

The VHFA course section will cover VHFA’s mission as a state chartered agency in administering mortgage loan programs to help Vermonters achieve homeownership. The material will provide detail on the available programs, how they are structured with underlying standard conventional and government products and the features and benefits. The section will also include an overview of the eligibility criteria, how the process works and resources for realtors to access after course completion to help them assist homeowners interested in VHFA programs.

 

Register today for the Legislative Breakfast and CE Class!

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By: Mia Watson on 4/16/2019

The Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) Board of Commissioners announced yesterday that its annual allocation of federal and state housing tax credits will support the development of 214 permanently affordable apartments in nine communities across the state. Low and moderate income Vermont renters will benefit from a 12.5 percent increase in Vermont’s annual allocation enacted by Congress last year.

Housing tax credits are the single largest source of funding for the development of affordable rental housing in Vermont. VHFA awarded the developers of the eight projects state and federal tax credits that are expected to yield an estimated $41 million in total upfront equity for development costs.

“The number of Vermont renters struggling to afford rent continues to rise,” remarked Maura Collins, Executive Director of VHFA. “The increase in federal tax credits allows us to build approximately 20 more permanently affordable apartments each year. This increase coincided with the issuance of Vermont’s Housing for All Revenue Bond, spurring substantial growth in the development of affordable housing.”

Despite its clear benefits, the 12.5 percent increase in federal tax credits has only been funded by Congress through 2021. In addition to providing over 7,000 homes to Vermonters since 1986, the tax credit program supports nearly 8,000 jobs related to development and housing management each year. In light of this, VHFA is strongly supporting legislation introduced in Congress last year to increase tax credits by 50 percent, which would allow 900 additional affordable apartments to be built in Vermont over the next ten years.

The Board also approved $22 million in VHFA permanent and construction loans. In total, VHFA-awarded permanent loans and tax credit equity are expected to cover 64 percent of the development costs for the upcoming projects.

Housing developments awarded federal tax credits include Maiden Lane Apartments in downtown St. Albans, which is a public-private partnership between the City of St. Albans, Champlain Housing Trust, and Housing Vermont. It will create 22 affordable apartments in a 30-unit mixed income building, six of which will be reserved for homeless or at-risk households. Maiden Lane will be part of the Congress & Main Redevelopment project to replace dilapidated buildings with a mix of rental housing, condominiums, office space and storefronts.

Juniper House in Burlington, developed by Cathedral Square Corporation, is a 70-unit building with 60 affordable apartments for seniors, seven of which will be enriched with supportive services for formerly homeless or at-risk households. Juniper House will be located at Cambrian Rise, a new neighborhood on the shores of Lake Champlain that will mix market rate and affordable apartments and condominiums. All of the units were designed for accessibility, and all residents will have access to SASH (Support and Services at Home), a care-coordination program that helps residents live safely, comfortably and independently.

In Shaftsbury, Lake Paran Village will offer 16 affordable apartments in a 22-unit mixed income site with multiple small buildings. The apartments will be in walking distance both to the Village of North Bennington and nature trails surrounding the lake. Shires Housing is the project sponsor. As part of the project, Shires Housing will reserve four apartments in its portfolio for homeless or at-risk households. 

Housing Vermont will completely rehabilitate a historic building in downtown St. Johnsbury to develop New Avenue Apartments. The renovated building will contain 38 affordable apartments, nine of which will have access to supportive services for homeless or at-risk households. The first floor of the building is being privately developed as commercial space, with the overall goal that New Avenue will serve as a cornerstone for downtown revitalization. 

Vergennes Community Housing, sponsored by Addison County Community Trust and Housing Vermont, will offer seven market rate apartments and 17 affordable apartments, four of which will offer supportive services for homeless or at-risk households. Vergennes Community Housing will have easy access to schools, transportation and amenities in the downtown area. In addition, there are plans to have a child care center located on-site. 

These projects each achieve important housing priorities for the agency. All of the new projects will include some apartments for formerly homeless Vermont households. In addition, every new development is located within half a mile of regular public transportation, furthering the goal of smart growth and downtown development.

VHFA also awarded federal bond credits and Vermont State Tax Credits to four projects that will significantly rehabilitate older buildings, helping to preserve Vermont’s limited supply of affordable rental housing. In Waterbury, Downstreet Housing and Community Development will renovate 14 affordable apartments in the historic Stimson and Graves building. The Manchester Knoll and Depot Street project involves the rehabilitation of 25 affordable apartments in several different buildings in Manchester and Bennington by Shires Housing. Governor Prouty Apartments in Newport has 24 affordable apartments for senior and disabled renters that will be renovated by RuralEdge.  All of these projects will involve substantial energy efficiency updates, including new heating systems, window replacement and weatherization.

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

Pictured: Rendering of Maiden Lane in St. Albans, courtesy of Housing Vermont

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