By: Mia Watson

September 30, 2021

New England Federal Credit Union (NEFCU) President/CEO John J. Dwyer, Jr. announced at a press conference held today at their headquarters in Williston a $3 million contribution to Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA)’s Housing Investment fund. The money will be awarded by VHFA over the next three years to developers to address Vermont’s critical need for affordable rental housing and homeownership opportunities. 

NEFCU press conference

“The housing shortage in Vermont, already a crisis, has been made even worse by recent events,” noted Dwyer.  “Major, immediate action is needed. In line with our ongoing mission of community support, we are beginning a comprehensive campaign that will provide multiple solutions to this complex challenge.”

This is the not the first time that NEFCU has made a major housing investment with VHFA. NEFCU donated $1.5 million in grants in 2017 and 2018, which helped build 114 affordable homes across the state. This new investment will allow VHFA to help even more Vermont homebuyers and renters access safe, decent, and affordable housing opportunities.

VHFA intends to use a portion of the new investment to launch a pilot program to build affordable single-family homes for moderate income families. This will further NEFCU and VHFA’s shared goal of expanding homeownership opportunities for communities who have been historically underserved, especially Black and Brown households.

The funds will also be used to make loans to fill critical project gaps in housing developments, providing key financing for economically integrated rental housing across in Vermont’s downtowns and growth centers, close to schools, jobs and other economic opportunities will help our cities and towns stay strong and vibrant. These projects will include permanent homes for Vermonters at risk of or experiencing homelessness, paired with supportive services to help them succeed.

NEFCU’s investment represents a public-private partnership that will help expand the reach of Vermont’s housing resources. On average each dollar of this investment will be paired with 25 state, federal and private dollars, providing the “but for” funding needed to make key affordable housing projects a reality.

“VHFA's long-standing role as a key coordinator of housing investment in the state as well as our 47 years of underwriting experience will allow us to make smart, impactful investments on behalf of NEFCU,” remarked VHFA Executive Director Maura Collins. “I applaud NEFCU’s vision, leadership, and dedication to serving their communities, and look forward to the work ahead.”

The NEFCU initiative will also include a separate $3 million commitment with Champlain Housing Trust (CHT) to advance BIPOC homeownership opportunities, as well as NEFCU’s own Home Ownership Made Easier (HOME) program to help first-time homebuyers struggling with affordability.

“My kids and I rent an affordable housing apartment from Champlain Housing Trust, and like many families we too dream of owning our own home someday,” said Antoinette Bennett-Jones, who is a member of CHT’s Board of Directors. “But people who are not white have a harder time because of the history [of this country]. My parents and other family members had less opportunities to build wealth, to buy a home and the legacy which still affects my family today. Thank you New England Federal Credit Union, for realizing that now is the time to invest in equity, to help people like me reach the American dream of homeownership.”