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By: Mia Watson on 11/19/2018

Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) has issued a Request for Proposals to provide trustee services for VHFA’s bond issues.

The details of the RFP can be found on our website. The deadline to submit a proposal is Tuesday, December 11, 2018.

Proposals and questions should be directed to finrfp@vhfa.org with your questions. We will be posting your questions related to the RFP, and our answers, on the RFP page.

By: Mia Watson on 11/16/2018

Doug Hemmings, President of Vermont Resident Service Coordinators (VRSC), passed away this week after a brief illness.

In addition to his work with VRSC, Hemmings was Resident & Community Services Coordinator at Highgate Apartments in Barre since 2006. Of his work in resident services, Hemmings said, “At times, I am a counselor, conflict resolution specialist, cruise director, lease compliance cop, professional good listener and chief cook and bottle washer; it all depends on the day and the resident issues.”

Hemmings also served on the Board of Children’s Literary Foundation and was a long-time volunteer on the New England Resident Service Coordinators (NERSC) conference planning team.

Through VRSC and NERSC, many VHFA staff had a chance to work with and become friends with Doug and his family. “This is a great loss not only for the families at Highgate, but for the Resident Service Coordinators statewide, as so many of us looked to Doug to learn from his experiences,” said Sarah Carpenter, VHFA’s Executive Director. “He was a kind and generous man who was genuinely dedicated to helping support residents.”

Throughout his career, Hemmings was a tireless advocate for children, families, and the most vulnerable. His leadership and commitment to social justice was an inspiration to many in the Vermont housing community.   He will be missed by his colleagues at VHFA.


By: Mia Watson on 11/15/2018

Over 400 housing professionals from across Vermont came together this week at the Hilton Burlington to discuss strategies to promote stable, affordable housing. The high level of attendance at the conference reflected the concern that many Vermont communities feel over the increasing cost of housing in their communities.

“This opportunity to connect and learn about new paths to addressing housing imbalances in Vermont communities could not come at a better time,” remarked Vermont Housing Finance Agency Executive Director Sarah Carpenter. “We are hearing much more frequently from our municipal partners that they are ready to look at new ways to expand housing opportunities in their jurisdictions,” she continued.

The conference offered workshops on a variety of tools for communities to use to make housing more available, safe, and affordable, such as zoning and employer assisted housing. Experts emphasized the importance of building connections between housing and schools, infrastructure, healthcare, and addiction treatment. Speaker Tiffany Manuel from Enterprise Community Partners stressed that appropriate messaging is essential to building community support for affordable housing.

“We need to think about what actually gets people to lean in rather than lean out,” said Dr. Manuel. “If we don’t build a larger story about how housing both benefits people personally and the community as a whole, they may tune out the message.”

The conference also featured keynote speaker Liz Ogbu, a designer, urbanist, and social innovator who described how emphasizing the lived experience of people at the heart of housing issues can build consensus and inclusivity in the housing development process, ultimately resulting in stronger, more sustainable communities.

“Instead of talking about the number of housing units created, we need to start talking about the number of better stories lived through our efforts,” said Ogbu.

The conference also featured interviews with policy experts at the state and national level. Erhard Mahnke of the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition interviewed Stockton Williams of the National Council of State Housing Agencies and David Lipsetz of the Housing Assistance Council, who suggested that although a divided Congress can sometimes result in gridlock, housing’s bipartisan nature should provide opportunities for political cooperation.

At the state level, Rebecca Ramos of the Necrason Group interviewed Mitzi Johnson, Vermont Speaker of the House, and Katie Buckley, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development. Johnson emphasized that, for the first time in a decade, the State of Vermont is not struggling to overcome a budget deficit. Buckley and Johnson agreed that this widens the possibilities for making the state more affordable for Vermonters.

In addition to highlighting community practices supporting affordable housing, the conference honored three statewide leaders for their service and achievements. Vermont State Senator and President Pro Tempore Time Ashe received the “Legislative Housing Hero” award for his strong leadership and stewardship of important housing bills, including the $37 million state housing bond and expanding the state housing tax credit for down payment assistance for first-time buyers.

Gisele Kloeckner and Hilary Melton jointly received “Innovation and Impact Housing Hero” awards for decades of service and vision for affordable housing. As Relationship Manager at TD Bank, Kloeckner personally oversaw over $400 million of credit towards the development and rehab of affordable housing, impacting over 1,000 homes. Hilary Melton received the award for her pioneering work as the Founder and Executive Director of Pathways Vermont, which brought the Housing First model of ending homelessness to Vermont. Since Pathways Vermont was formed in 2009 it has ended homelessness for 550 people.

By: Mia Watson on 11/7/2018

Residents of Hickory Street apartments in Rutland celebrated the completion of the total redevelopment of their complex at a ribbon-cutting ceremony held last week. The project, sponsored by Rutland Housing Authority and Housing Vermont, transformed a public housing development previously known as Forest Park. The project was supported by Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA), which awarded state and federal tax credits. 

Forest Park was badly in need of recapitalization after years of service. The ribbon-cutting event marks the end of the third stage of redevelopment, whose first phase began in 2010. The renovated complex incorporates 78 apartments, including both market-rate and affordable units in duplexes and larger apartment buildings. The project is intended to transform the neighborhood, adding new roads and sidewalks. The renovated complex also offers a community center and community gardens.

Phase three includes 22 apartments, 21 of which are set aside and made affordable for low-income households. The apartments will have access to services offered by Rutland Housing Authority through the SASH program and the Homeless Prevention Center (HPC), which will provide support for residents with disabilities or who are formerly homeless.

The $6 million phase three received three-quarters of its funding from VHFA, including $462,000 in federal 4% and 9% housing tax credits and $95,000 in state credits, which were sold to investors to raise an estimated total of $4.4 million in equity for construction. This project also received funding from Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Housing Trust Fund program, the Vermont Community Development Program (VCDP), City of Rutland revolving loan funds, and the Federal Home Loan Bank’s Affordable Housing Program (AHP).

By: Mia Watson on 11/6/2018

Last week, Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) celebrated Halloween with a staff benefit event for United Way of Northwest Vermont. During the event, VHFA was honored to receive the President’s Award in recognition for its support of United Way in 2017.

Among the Halloween festivities were trick-or-treating for children of staff and costume and pumpkin carving contests. Entry fees from the contests will be donated to United Way.

United Way CEO Jesse Bridges and Campaign Associate Henry Rabinowitz stopped by to discuss their organization’s important work in reducing substance abuse, promoting mental health, supporting families, advancing employment, and meeting basic needs in Chittenden, Franklin, and Grand Isle counties. They presented VHFA with the 2017 President’s Award, which is bestowed on organizations that achieve 80% employee participation in United Way fundraising and $75 per capita employee giving.

In 2017, VHFA achieved an 83.8% staff participation rate for its campaign activities and raised nearly $12,000. 2017 campaign events included a charity mini golf tournament, holiday basket raffle, and a Thanksgiving pie auction. The Halloween event kicked off VHFA’s new year of United Way fundraising, in which VHFA hopes to exceed last year’s donations.

Pictured: United Way of Northwest Vermont Campaign Associate Henry Rabinowitz, and VHFA Director of HR and Administration Steve Gronlund (in a prize-winning pig costume)