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VHFA News

By: Mia Watson on 4/5/2019

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

There are vacancies in 57 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: Downstreet Apartments in Barre

Property Namesort descending Street Address City/Town Vacant Units Apts restricted to elderly and/or tenants with disabilities
137-139 Benmont Neighborhood 137-139 Benmont Avenue Bennington 2 0
14 Birge Street 14 Birge Street Brattleboro 1 0
86 Raymond Street 86 Raymond Street Lyndon 1 0
Abbott Neighborhood Housing 10 & 18 Canal Street; 172 Elliot Street and 12 & 16 Horton Place Brattleboro 1 0
Abenaki Acres Bushey Street Swanton 1 0
Adams House 8 & 10 South Park Place Fair Haven 1 1
Addison Housing Limited Partnership 97 - 101 Main Street Vergennes 1 0
Alburgh Family Housing 2 Carle Street; 4 North Main Street and 6 North Main Street Alburgh 1 0
Alfred Court Apartments 20 Airport Road Fair Haven 3 0
Applegate Apartments Applegate Drive Bennington 13 0
Arlington Village Center Apartments 3658 - 3662 VT Route 7A Arlington 3 0
Avenue Apartments 1201 North Avenue Burlington 1 0
Barre Street Apartments 39-40 Barre Street Montpelier 3 0
Bemis Block Housing 41 South Main Street Hardwick 1 1
Ben South 120-126 Benmont Avenue and 501-507 South Street Bennington 3 0
Bennington Historic 50 & 100 Carrigan Lane, 316-318 Safford Street, 233 School Street and 119-121 Pleasant Street Bennington 5 0
Benson Heights 2747 Stage Road Benson 1 1
Black River Overlook 146, 147 & 161 Rublee Lane Ludlow 1 0
Bradford Village Apartments 110, 125 & 142 Meadow Lane Bradford 4 0
Bristol Family Housing 2066 - 2070 Hunt Farm Road. Bristol 2 0
Bromur Apartments 2 - 8 & 1 - 21 Bromur Street Barre City 1 0
Colonial Village 59 & 63 S Pleasant St and 94 & 128 S Main St Bradford 2 0
Cora B. Whitney 814 Gage Street Bennington 1 1
Coventry Senior Housing 10 Covered Bridge Road Coventry 1 0
Cummings Street Apartments 21-25 Cummings Street Montpelier 2 0
Depot Street 211, 213 & 215 Depot Street Bennington 1 0
Downstreet Apartments 22 Keith Avenue Barre City 2 0
Downtown Crossing 302 & 304 South Street and 343 - 349 School Street Bennington 1 0
French Block Apartments 34 Main St Montpelier 1 0
Good Neighbors 81 Elm St Barre City 1 0
Green Mountain Seminary 201 Hollow Rd Waterbury 1 0
Hebert Farm Apartments 21 & 23 Hebert Road Montpelier 1 0
Heritage Court 624 York Street Poultney 1 1
Highgate Apartments Highgate Drive Barre City 9 0
Hollister Hill Apartments 42 & 94 Austin Road Marshfield 6 0
Island Pond 19 Walnut Street, 190 Derby Street, 74 Mountain Street, 84 Elm Street Brighton 2 0
Keen's Crossing 65 - 85 Winooski Falls Way; 15 Cascade Way and 16 Abenaki Way Winooski 6 0
Mad River Meadows 144 Butcher House Drive Waitsfield 2 2
Manchester Knoll 35 - 83 Torrey Knoll Manchester 5 0
Newport Senior Housing 107 & 119 Main Street Newport City 1 0
North Branch Apartments 87 & 89 Elm Street; 6 & 8 Monsignor Crosby Ave and 47 Barre Street Montpelier 5 0
Norwich Senior Housing 4 Dorrance Drive Norwich 1 1
Park House 16 Park Row Box 4 Rochester 4 0
Parker House 129 Church Street Rutland City 1 0
Regency Manor Haywood Avenue Rutland City 0 0
River Station Apartments 191 Barre Street Montpelier 3 0
Riverview Apartments 73 Westminster Street Rockingham 1 0
Roaring Branch 132-134, 136-138 & 140-142 Benmont Avenue and 100-111 & 113-115 Roaring Branch Lane Bennington 1 0
Sadawga Springs 9 School Street Whitingham 2 0
Southview Apartments 30 Stanley Road Springfield 1 0
Spear House and Spear House Apartments 69 Main Street North Newbury 1 0
Stimson and Graves 12 Stowe St Waterbury 1 0
Vermont Arts Apartments - Shaftsbury 10-12 & 14-16 Greenwich Street Shaftsbury 2 0
Waits River Apartments 64, 68, 108, 234, 245 South Main Street; 33 South Pleasant Street and 25 Cobblestone Street Bradford 1 0
West River Valley - Assisted Living 461 Grafton Road Townshend 2 0
West River Valley - Independent Living 451 Grafton Road Townshend 2 0
Wheeler Brook Apartments 19, 31 & 71 Wheeler Brook Drive Warren 2 0
By: Mia Watson on 4/3/2019

National Fair Housing Month is held every April to celebrate the anniversary of the passage of the 1968 Federal Fair Housing Act. At the same time, it is an opportunity to increase our efforts to end housing discrimination and raises awareness of housing rights.

Vermont has always been one of the least diverse states in the country. Historically, less discrimination and segregation was written into our legal codes than in other parts of the county, leaving many Vermonters to assume that we do not have the same problems with fair housing. However, many groups of Vermonters have faced and continue to face significant challenges in accessing housing. A 2014 report from Vermont Legal Aid found numerous instances of landlords declining to rent to Black Vermonters and renters of foreign origin in favor of White renters. The report also found that landlords often resist renting to families with children and renters with disabilities, both of which are protected groups under the Fair Housing Act. A report from the State of Vermont found that as many as 70 percent of newly constructed apartments had at least minor issues with ADA compliance and another 10 percent had significant compliance issues.

Inequality manifests not only in outright discrimination, but also a lack of advantages and opportunities. Vermonters of color and disabled Vermonters are far more likely to be cost-burdened, paying more for housing than they can afford. The rate of homeownership among Black Vermont households is just 22 percent according to the latest Census Bureau estimates, while the rate for White households is 71 percent.  Nationally, the rate of homeownership among Black households is 42 percent.

In many ways, Vermont has been a trailblazer in legislation and policy to protect equal opportunity. Vermont’s Fair Housing Act is more expansive than the Federal Fair Housing Act, adding protections against housing discrimination on the basis of marital status, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, and receipt of public assistance, in addition to the federal prohibition of discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, and sex. Yet it is clear that we still have much work to do to ensure that all Vermonters have access to safe, decent, and affordable housing.

Vermont Legal Aid and CVOEO’s Fair Housing Project have a variety of housing information available for those who wish to learn more, including resources for Vermonters who are facing discrimination. The Thriving Communities initiative has published a calendar of events for Fair Housing Month, including landlord education and renter’s rights workshops, community awareness dinners, and a public art contest.

By: Mia Watson on 3/27/2019

Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA)’s HousingData.org website has recently been updated to display the latest housing data available. The data updates include the newly released 2017 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as 2018 home sales data from the Vermont Department of Taxes.

The website’s Community Profiles offer data for every Vermont town and county, helping planners, nonprofits, government agencies, and elected officials identify housing needs. The profiles display data and vetted community housing indicators based on a variety of national and Vermont-based sources. The site, which has been maintained by VHFA since 2003, was overhauled this past fall to display new interactive data visualizations and offer a wider range of information than ever before.

Since the launch, several new data sets have been added to the site, including wages by occupation, median gross rent by number of bedrooms, and housing stock by number of bedrooms. The site’s affordable home price calculator, allowing users to determine affordability based on the price of the home and the household income, has also been updated. VHFA has also created several tools to compare towns and villages incomes to residents countywide and to assess town home price affordability based on county incomes. By comparing local conditions to the larger area, municipalities can more easily examine whether their housing supply fits the needs of current and potential residents.  

The site will be updated as new data is available, and new data visualizations continue to be added to the site regularly.

By: Mia Watson on 3/20/2019

Nearly 90% of extremely low-income Vermont renters spend an unaffordable amount of their income on housing costs, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC)’s recently released annual report The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes. The report highlights a critical shortage in the availability of affordable housing across the country.

Extremely low-income households are defined as earning less than 30% of the area median income, which works out to $17,342 in Vermont. According to NLIHC estimates, there are over 18,000 renter households earning that amount or less across the state. $17,342 is less than half of the income needed to afford a 1 bedroom apartment at fair market rent in Chittenden County. No Vermont county has market rate housing affordable for extremely low-income households.

The report estimates that for every 100 extremely low-income Vermont renters, there are only 35 apartments available that would be affordable. The NLIHC reports that very little affordable rental housing is being constructed nationally. Without public subsidies, the private market is unable to produce new apartments affordable to extremely low-income households, because the rents that they can afford to pay typically do not cover the development costs and operating expenses for the unit. The housing stock that is affordable to low-income renters is often older, and of poor quality. Substandard rental housing has been identified as a significant health and safety issue in Vermont.

The housing affordability crisis also affects some groups more severely than others. Extremely low-income renters are far more likely to be elderly or have special needs than other renters. In addition, Black, Native American, and Latino households are more likely than white households to be extremely low-income renters. Living in a safe, afford home in a high opportunity area as a child has been demonstrated to decrease health problems and increase long-term educational and economic achievement. Failing to address the housing affordability crisis perpetuates inequity in our communities.

The NLIHC report calls for permanently expanding federal support for low-income families, including increasing rental assistance through the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) and Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) programs, building more housing through an increase in the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, and providing significant capital investment to rehabilitate and preserve existing public housing.

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By: Maura Collins on 3/14/2019

This commentary by VHFA Executive Director Maura Collins appeared recently on VTDigger

There is only so much room in our budgets for housing, heating, and transportation, and when we sit down to pay our bills it’s clear how inextricably linked each of these are.

When thinking about our budgets, too many Vermonters are faced with an affordability crisis. Volatile fossil fuel prices and old, leaky homes combine to make winters uncertain and uncomfortable.

Limited housing available downtown can drive up prices and push lower income Vermonters out to rural areas where housing seems cheaper, but longer commutes eat up any savings through more gas, costlier car maintenance, and precious time.

Climate change makes these problems worse. The dramatic freeze-thaw cycles we’ve seen this year (and that will continue as the climate destabilizes) makes car maintenance even more expensive. Bigger, more frequent potholes and more days of salting icy roads take their toll on Vermonters’ cars.

And Vermonters can’t afford it. They can’t afford homes damaged by worsening storms and big temperature swings. They can’t afford running inefficient air conditioners in poorly insulated homes when we deal with record hot temperatures (I know it seems impossible this winter, but they will come!).

Vermont Housing Finance Agency is focused on affordable, safe and decent housing. And we know that making energy more renewable, efficient, and cost effective can help make housing more secure for Vermonters. The costs of home energy and transportation along with mortgage payments (or rent), home insurance and taxes are part of every Vermonter’s monthly expenses.  By reducing the total burden of these costs, we can improve the long-term affordability of living in Vermont, and stabilize the economy.

The report published this week by the Energy Action Network (EAN) is a call to action. EAN’s 2018 Annual Progress Report focuses both on the cost of the status quo for Vermonters as well as the benefits if we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and reduce emissions through steps such as increased home weatherization.

EAN’s report models the scale of transformation necessary to reach Vermont’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement by 2025. One third of all homeowners would need to switch from propane or fuel-oil heating systems to renewable options like advanced wood heating (pellet stoves and boilers) and cold climate heat pumps over the next six years.

This isn’t just about emissions. Our reliance on fossil fuels cost Vermonters $240 million more in 2018 than if we had been heating our homes and businesses renewably.

Worse, of that $240 million, over $185 million left the Vermont economy entirely, since about 78 cents of every dollar spent on fossil fuels leaves Vermont and goes to other states and countries. I’d much rather invest those dollars in Vermont businesses and families.

It’s not just how we fuel these homes, but also where that fuel goes: out the windows or staying in the home. EAN also models the impact of weatherizing an additional 90,000 buildings over the next six years. The report cites the Vermont Department of Health’s finding that the 10-year savings from weatherization is nearly three times greater than the initial investment, thanks to both health and fuel savings.

When Vermont Housing Finance Agency funds affordable apartments, we require high energy efficiency standards. We give priority to applications that are efficiently located near jobs and services in downtowns and village centers with access to public transportation. VHFA also prioritizes buildings that meet Passive Housing or Net Zero construction standards.

In doing this we recognize that housing needs to be affordable for the life of the home. Our residents deserve it.

The EAN Progress Report is a must-read for anyone who is thinking about how energy impacts our economy, our health, and our climate. I look forward to more informed conversations about why and how we need to accelerate efficient renewable energy adoption for the sake of all Vermonters.

 

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