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By: Mia Watson on 1/8/2019

As the federal government shutdown continues into its third week, many in the affordable housing community have expressed concern about what it might mean for their programs. Vermont Housing Finance Agency will remain open throughout the shutdown. However, some of the federal program funding that VHFA and its partners administer may be affected if the shutdown persists. 

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), has released a contingency plan outlining the status of its programs during the shutdown.  Much of HUD funding for multifamily affordable housing is disbursed through local public housing agencies (PHAs), which are not part of the federal government and therefore continue to operate. However, these organizations receive significant federal funding, and may not be able to carry out normal activities in the event that the shutdown lasts for an extended period of time.

Under HUD’s plan, HUD staff who process funding for the Office of Housing will work on a limited basis to process payments and contract renewals. However, any new funding actions that require HUD staff involvement cannot be processed during the shutdown. Payments for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance will continue to be disbursed, and Homeless Assistance Grants will continue to be fully funded. HUD will continue to disburse block grant funds (CDBG, HOME) that have already been allocated in prior year budgets. HUD will continue payments for Project-Based Rental Assistance (Section 8, rent supplement, Section 236, and project rental assistance contracts), contingent on the availability of existing funds. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, funding for project-based assistance is currently in place for January, but may become uncertain if the shutdown continues into next month.

USDA Rural Development

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development (RD) 502 homeownership program is the primary source of government guarantee loans for home purchases in the state of Vermont. During the shutdown, RD will not process new loan requests under the 502 Direct or Guarantee programs. Under USDA’s contingency plan, RD offices at the state level are shut down completely.

Vermont also receives funding for multifamily affordable housing through USDA Rural Development programs. The Section 521 Rental Assistance, Section 542 Rural Housing Vouchers will continue until funding is exhausted, however, USDA suggests that a shutdown of more than two weeks is likely to have a “significant impact” on its programs.

VHFA Home Loans

Despite the substantial wide-reaching challenges the shutdown creates, most VHFA mortgage programs are not affected at this point, and VHFA continues to accept loan reservations. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Veterans Administration (VA) continue to process home loans. Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans will continue to be processed, though due to HUD’s reduced staffing, processing of FHA loans may occur more slowly than usual.  Although RD will not process new loan requests during the shutdown, VHFA is still receiving reservations for RD guaranteed loans. Vermonters preparing to buy a home with VHFA financing should continue to work with their participating lender, who can best advise them on navigating the approval process during the shutdown.


By: Zach Nelson on 1/4/2019

VHFA is pleased to announce the 2018 Top Performers across the local Vermont banks, credit unions and mortgage companies who participate in the VHFA single family homeownership program.  VHFA's participating lenders are essential to meeting VHFA's mission to provide homeownership opportunities for low to moderate income Vermont households.

Please join VHFA in congratulating the following organizations and individuals who originated the highest VHFA mortgage loan production volume in 2018:














The VHFA single family homeownership program is offered through a network of local lenders. Consumers apply for a VHFA mortgage program directly with those lenders. VHFA celebrates all of our participating lenders who share VHFA's commitment to helping low to moderate income Vermont households achieve homeownership. For a complete list of VHFA participating lenders please access http://www.vhfa.org/homebuyers/lenders.

By: Leslie Black-Plumeau on 12/27/2018

Vermont’s economy is growing but not in every county, and its gains have disproportionately benefited higher income Vermonters, according to the 2018 update of “State of Working Vermont” from Public Assets Institute. Poverty is distinctly more prevalent among younger Vermonters and Vermonters of color, the report notes.

The northwestern part of the state accounted for all job growth in Vermont in the last decade, according to the Public Assets Institute report.  While employment grew in Chittenden, Franklin and Washington counties, the remaining counties lost 15,000 workers. 

Why are income trends so important for affordable housing programs?  Housing is affordable when income and housing costs are balanced.  Housing with associated costs that consume no more than 30% of a household’s income is typically considered “affordable.”  It is this connection that makes understanding the income side of the scale critical to most effectively building communities where residents have affordable housing.  The report finds that in 2017, nearly two-thirds of Vermont households with incomes under $50,000 were living in unaffordable housing.

By: Mia Watson on 12/20/2018

Earlier this week, VHFA Executive Director Sarah Carpenter was honored by the VHFA Board of Commissioners with a resolution in recognition of her 20 years of service as head of the agency.

L. Randolph Amis, Chair of Board of Directors, praised Carpenter for her “grace, good humor, and dogged resolution” in her leadership of VHFA and her advocacy for affordable housing.

The resolution reads:

“WHEREAS, Sarah Carpenter has served Vermont’s housing community for over three decades as a developer, funder and financier impacting more than 10,000 households; and

WHEREAS, Sarah’s efforts and leadership transformed Vermont’s discussion of how to provide supportive housing for its most vulnerable citizens; and

WHEREAS, Sarah fearlessly took on NIMBYism in Burlington, Woodstock and other communities; and

WHEREAS, Sarah, through her work on the NCSHA Board, has provided national leadership helping to successfully expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit; and

WHEREAS, Sarah has been an effective mentor to the next generation of Vermont’s housing leaders; and

WHEREAS, Sarah led VHFA through both its best and most productive years and difficult times after the housing collapse of 2008 with grace, good humor and dogged determination;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the VHFA Board of Commissioners thanks Sarah for her extraordinary dedication and leadership and declares Sarah a friend of great distinction for Vermont’s affordable housing community and wishes here great joy and wonderful travel in her retirement.

I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true copy of the approved Resolution of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency Board of Commissioners meeting held on December 6, 2018 at Burlington, Vermont.”                                                   

                                                                                                                L. Randolph Amis

                                                                                                                Chair of Board of Directors

                                                                                                                Vermont Housing Finance Agency


By: Mia Watson on 12/14/2018

The Vermont Chamber of Commerce recently named Leo O’Brien Jr. and Daniel J. O’Brien, founder of O’Brien Brothers real estate development, as the 2018 Citizens of the Year. Among their many other accomplishments, the brothers have a long history of investment in affordable housing in Vermont.

In the late 1970's, O’Brien Brothers was one of the first real estate developers to participate in the Section 8 program offered by the federal government through VHFA. At that time, the program was new, complicated, and considered risky by many. Country Park was one of the first projects built by the company with VHFA as a partner.  The South Burlington affordable apartment complex continues to serve very low income seniors today. The O’Brien brothers are responsible for much of the Burlington area’s affordable rental housing stock. 

As the company more recently shifted some of their development interest to workforce housing and decided to sell some of their affordable properties, they worked very closely with VHFA to responsibly transition those properties to owners to ensure long term affordability and protection of the residents who lived there.

VHFA Executive Director Sarah Carpenter remarked, “I have worked with Leo and Dan for over 40 years and know what solid and caring business people they are and how committed they are to the Chittenden County community and to the State of Vermont. They have provided outstanding service to the community and continue to work on that through the values they have set for their family business.”

Photo from O'Brien Brothers