New High-Performance Manufactured Homes Unveiled in White River Jct.
Homes feature durable, energy efficient design, are more resistant to extreme weather
White River Jct., Vt. --- Housing and energy efficiency advocates unveiled a new high-performance, energy efficient manufactured home today that is the first of its kind in the nation. It is specifically designed for northern climate conditions and uses one-third of the energy of a typical ENERGY STAR rated manufactured home.
The home is one of 10 being constructed by the Vermont Manufactured Housing Innovation Project, a pilot collaboration led by the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, Efficiency Vermont, the High Meadows Fund and others.
“This project puts Vermont on the leading edge of the market transformation to truly resilient and affordable housing,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin. “Buyers need more options, and this is the first step in changing the conversation about what is possible in the manufactured housing market.”
The homes are designed to provide alternatives for Vermont’s aging mobile home stock and to increase the supply options for quality affordable housing. The project arose out of the need to respond to the loss of homes in 2011 due to Tropical Storm Irene where a disproportionate number of mobile homes were damaged or destroyed.
The project convened Vermont housing advocates and energy specialists to collaborate on the design of a new type of mobile home that maximizes both durability and affordability. The aim was to design the highest-quality manufactured home while keeping energy costs at a minimum to make it an affordable option for low-income buyers. The high performance homes also provide a new option for buyers to consider who cannot afford the construction or purchase of a traditional single-family home.
“Improved structural resiliency is only one of the important benefits of these homes,” said Jim Merriam of Efficiency Vermont. “Owners will immediately see a 70 percent reduction in energy costs as compared to a conventional newly-constructed mobile home. This means that total ownership costs - taking into account both mortgage payments and energy costs - will be the same, or lower, every single month.”
VHCB, the High Meadows Fund and other funders are providing purchase subsidies for the 10 pilot project homes, with down payment assistance available through the Champlain Housing Trust and the Addison County Community Trust. The minimum subsidy for qualified buyers of the pilot homes is $30,000. Fixed rate financing will also be available from several Vermont credit unions and banks.
"Mobile home residents represent a vulnerable and historically underserved population, and these high performance homes present the community with an affordable option for energy efficient, durable housing,” said VHCB Executive Director Gus Selig. “It’s a very important development for the housing market and is the result of the hard work, cooperation and teamwork of many Vermonters to make this happen.”
The high-performance homes feature triple-pane windows, built-in heat recovery ventilation systems and high levels of insulation for efficient heating and cooling, durable soundproofing construction and a significant improvement in air quality due to the absence of chemicals in construction materials. The open floor plans offer natural sunlit spaces, a large kitchen, and plenty of closet space and are available in 2-bedroom, 2-bath or 2-bedroom, 1 bath models.
“In addition to the energy savings, what owners will notice immediately is increased overall comfort due to the high-quality construction and design efficiencies,” said builder Steve Davis of Vermod High Performance Homes in White River Junction. “These are very solid units, with no draftiness in the winter or unbearable heat in the summer, and because of the durability of construction, we expect that they will retain their value over time far longer than a traditional unit.”
The 10 high performance 66’–70’ single-wide manufactured homes in the pilot project can be purchased by Vermont buyers and will be placed in non-profit mobile home parks or privately owned lots throughout the state.
"I am very lucky and very happy,” said owner of the first home to come off the line Joel Ferris. “I've been through a lot, but I've had plenty of help to get this new, energy efficient home. I don't have to worry about the burden of fuel in the winter; it's going to be easier without those extra costs. Energy efficiency is the way to go and positive thinking is a great help."
"I am delighted that Twin Pines Housing Trust has been able to participate in this exciting pilot program and that Joel will be buying the first home built for our South Royalton Mobile Home Park," said Twin Pines Housing Trust Executive Director Andrew B. Winter.
The high performance homes are available through Vermont’s network of nonprofit housing development organizations and NeighborWorks® HomeOwnership Centers. For more information, contact the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board at 828-3250, email email@example.com or visit www.vhcb.org/mhip
The Vermont Manufactured Homes Innovation Project is a collaboration between the following organizations and funders:
- Vermont Housing & Conservation Board
- Efficiency Vermont
- High Meadows Fund
- Vermont Community Foundation
- CVOEO Mobile Home Project
- Vermod High Performance Manufactured Housing
- Vermont's NeighborWorks® HomeOwnership Centers
- Vermont Department of Housing & Community Development
- Vermont Housing Finance Agency
- University of Vermont Dept. of Community Development and Applied Economics
- Manufactured Housing Innovation Project Working Group
- Upper Valley Housing Coalition
- Sustainable Futures Fund
- Ben and Jerry’s Foundation.
- Vermont’s Nonprofit Housing Development Organizations: Twin Pines Housing Trust, Champlain Housing Trust, Addison County Community Trust, Lamoille Housing Partnership, Rural Edge, Housing Foundation Inc., Housing Trust of Rutland County, Windham & Windsor Housing Trust, Central Vermont Community Land Trust, Shires Housing and NeighborWorks of Western Vermont.
Contact information is available at www.vhcb.org/mhip.html.
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October 14, 2013
Contact: Karen Freeman, VHCB 828-5067
VHCB Awards $1.67 Million in State and Federal Funding to Conserve almost 700 Acres of Farmland
and to Protect a Community Garden in Burlington
On September 24, the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board committed $1.6 million in state and federal funding to conserve six farms with nearly 700 acres of productive agricultural land in Washington, Windham, and Orange Counties.
VHCB matched $740,000 in state funds with $864,000 in federal funding for farmland protection from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The Vermont Land Trust is raising approximately $170,000 in private and town funds to match the state and federal dollars. In each case, the farmers will sell conservation easements, limiting any future development to the terms of the easement. As a result of these funding commitments, the Vermont Land Trust will conserve farms in Barre Town, Washington, Thetford, Randolph, Westminster and Dummerston. Three projects involve transfers to new owners and two involve new enterprises with young farmers. Two projects will conserve well-established vegetable farms as part of the farmers’ transition planning into new ownership.
Gus Seelig, VHCB Executive Director, said, “Our Board is pleased to support the conservation of these farms, selected from 12 applications. We appreciate the continued strong interest from the agricultural community in selling development rights, especially as a vehicle to facilitate transfers to the next generation or to new farmers, and to help pay for planned expansions or diversification.”
Tim Taylor, owner (with his wife Janet) of Crossroad farm in Thetford, said, “We enrolled in VHCB’s Farm Viability program to help devise a long-term transition plan for our farm business so that we can retire in the next few years. It became clear as we worked on our plan that selling the development rights was a key to our ability to transfer our farm and business at an affordable price. We’re thrilled with the award.”
Conservation will help ensure that their land stays in farming forever. The Vermont Land Trust is raising $60,000 in private and local donations to match the state and federal dollars. The town is contributing $5,000.
Frank and David Pinello conserved their dairy farm in Randolph Center in 2007. When 112 acres of highly productive cropland they have leased from an area landowner for ten years went on the market, the Pinellos sought funding for the sale of development rights to bring the purchase price of the leased land to an affordable level.
VHCB also awarded $68,500 to the city of Burlington to purchase a lot in the Old North End that is used as a community garden. VHCB has invested in over 160 affordable homes within five blocks of the garden site. Using matching funds from the City’s Conservation Fund and the Chittenden Regional Planning Commission, the City will be able to purchase this rented lot and ensure that it remains a community garden forever, available to neighborhood residents to grow fresh, healthy food.
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ENERGY EFFICIENCY: Mobile homes get an overhaul in chilly Vt.
GreenWire, Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Whitney Blair Wyckoff, E&E reporter
Dawn Moultroup knows all too well how mobile homes like hers typically fare in Vermont's harsh climate.
"The skirting and just above it -- they rot out," the Starksboro, Vt., resident said. "They don't weather at all. They'll just start falling apart."
Indeed, experts say mobile homes are constructed in a way that makes them less energy-efficient and less resilient to severe storms than traditional homes.
But now, Vermont's efficiency utility and a housing commission are piloting a program to build a handful of mobile homes that they say will better withstand extreme weather and conserve energy. The groups will debut the homes later this month.
"Our hope is that those [homes] will serve as models for those communities," said Peter Schneider, a contractor for Efficiency Vermont. "And then, as people need or want to replace their home, they would have an alternative to the current manufactured housing."
Mobile homes, which are typically less energy-efficient than their site-built counterparts, often put their low-income owners on the hook for steep energy bills. According to a report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, residents of manufactured homes spend nearly two times more on energy per square foot compared with occupants of site-built homes.
The energy costs can be a strain, said Steve Davis, the owner of Vermod, which is building the homes for the pilot program.
"You go there and sometimes people are just sitting there, crying, and have no money," he said.
As federal funding has decreased for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, which distributes money to states for families that need help paying their heating and cooling bills, energy efficiency problems could have a bigger impact.
The root of the mobile home's inefficiency is the structure's foundation, Schneider said. The base frame of a mobile unit rests on cinder blocks, which often sit on a concrete slab that isn't protected against frost. Because the ground moves, the unit needs to be built from flexible materials, like vinyl.
The flexible materials are susceptible to damage in severe weather -- a problem in a state that has been hit by everything from tropical storm flooding to ice storms, Schneider said.
The new models will rest on permanent, frost-protected foundations. The walls will be made out of Sheetrock, which better contains heat. And the homes will have more insulation, triple-paned windows, an airtight container and Energy Star-certified appliances. Buyers also can opt for a solar power system.
"The durability is so far above and beyond what's currently available on the market," Schneider said. "It really sets them apart."
Irene spurs Vt. to action
Vermont isn't alone in looking to make its mobile homes more efficient.
For the past few decades, Pacific Northwest states, home manufacturers and utilities have worked together to develop standards for more efficient manufactured homes. And both South Carolina and Kentucky are interested in improving the quality of their mobile home building stocks, said Jennifer Amann, ACEEE's buildings program director.
"As other folks are looking for targets that have traditionally been underserved, [mobile home efficiency] is certainly one of them," she said. "It's a tremendous resource for energy efficiency and energy savings. And the impact on the occupants is much greater, just in terms of their quality of life and freeing up their limited resources for other purposes."
While the Vermont mobile home program was a long time coming, Tropical Storm "Irene kind of spurred people to act," said Craig Peltier of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.
About 15 percent of the Vermont homes blighted during the 2011 storm, which flooded dozens of rivers and streams in the mountainous state, were mobile units, although 7 percent of homes in the state are mobile, according to Shaun Gilpin, program director of the Mobile Home Project at the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity.
Both the ACEEE report and Vermont officials came down on the Department of Housing and Urban Development's standards for mobile homes, which have not been updated since 1994 and set lower targets for mobile units. But Gilpin acknowledged that it can be a difficult tug of war between making something safe and making it affordable.
"Too often, I think we're stuck in between that position of making that judgment call of how safe is safe enough in order to maintain that affordability," said Gilpin, whose group was involved with message testing for the program.
The new mobile homes in Vermont will cost about $90,000, making them about $30,000 more expensive than mobile homes currently on the market. Buyers of the first 10 homes will benefit from about $30,000 in state and private subsidies. And officials said buyers can receive tax rebates.
But even with a more expensive price tag, the new homes will reduce energy bills by so much that the total amount homeowners would pay for their mortgage and energy bills would be less than for a typical unit.
"They would, over a number of years, actually end up being in a better situation, with a better quality product with lower energy costs with what it would be if they had gotten a lower-cost sort," Gilpin said.
For mobile home owner Moultroup, efficiency was an easy sell. She's replacing her 1973 mobile home with one of the units from the pilot program.
"I use a lot of fuel in the winter, and my electric bill is very high," she said. "And I think this will save a lot of money in the long run."
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July 3, 2013
Contact: Karen Freeman, VHCB 828-5067
VHCB Invests $5.1 Million in State and Federal Funding to Protect 2,100 Acres Farmland, and
Conserve 3,100 acres Habitat and Recreational Lands in Ira, Poultney, Brattleboro, Westminster
At meetings in May and June, the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board committed $4.2 million in state and federal funding to conserve 2,100 acres of farmland on 19 farms in Franklin, Chittenden, Addison, Washington, Lamoille, Rutland, Grand Isle and Essex Counties. VHCB matched $1.5 million in state funds with $2.7 million in federal funding for farmland protection from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). In each case, the farmers will sell conservation easements, limiting any future development to the terms of the easement. As a result of these funding commitments, the Vermont Land Trust will conserve farms in Bristol, Panton, New Haven, Milton, Essex Junction, Cambridge, Johnson, Hardwick, Jericho, St. Albans, South Hero, Fayston, Pawlet, Guildhall, and Maidstone. Together, the conserved farms include more than six miles of river frontage. Eight farms involve transfers to new owners, and several involve new enterprises with young farmers.
Vicky Drew, State Conservationist with NRCS, said, “We are proud to partner with Vermont’s Farmland Conservation Program to keep Vermont’s best farmland in agricultural use. Also, conserving land along rivers increases our flood resiliency and can protect important wildlife habitat.”
In South Hero, the former Willey Farm will be acquired by a four-person partnership including farmers Eric and Hannah Noel. The acquisition is contingent on VHCB funding for the purchase of development rights, which will be leveraged with private funds raised by the South Hero Land Trust. The Noels are moving their diversified, grass-based organic livestock and vegetable operation from Highgate to South Hero, expanding the operation in the process.
In Rutland County, The Conservation Fund has raised $1.65 million and will raise an additional $1.14 million to match a VHCB commitment of $600,000 to assist in the acquisition of 2,874 acres in Ira and Poultney for the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife, to add to the Bird Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The Department considers this unfragmented, rugged landscape—part of the Taconic Mountain range—a “Rare and Irreplaceable Natural Area” under Act 250. This acquisition will almost quintuple the size of the WMA, offering hugely expanded opportunities for hunting, fishing, trapping and wildlife viewing in the region.
The Conservation Fund’s Nancy Bell said, “This is a very special area to the local communities and we are thrilled its natural resource and public recreation values are acknowledged and will be protected by this grant.”
Marisa Mauro, owner of Ploughgate Creamery, LLC, is purchasing the former Bragg farm in Fayston through Vermont Land Trust’s Farmland Access Program, with VHCB funding for the conservation easement. She will be producing artisanal butter, soft cheese and whey-fed pork on the farm, which includes a landmark historic barn. The town of Fayston is contributing to the project, and VLT completed a fundraising campaign to raise additional support.
Marisa said, “This is an exciting opportunity to establish my dairy business in a beautiful community that has demonstrated strong support for local food operations.”
VHCB also approved funding for seven projects that will provide permanent public access to trails, protect important natural areas, and restore a historic community building:
- The Lake Champlain Land Trust will acquire a six-acre bluff surrounded by wetlands along Lake Champlain in Alburgh.
- The Vermont Rivers Conservancy will purchase an easement on land in Westminster along the Connecticut River, which will include a campsite as part of the Connecticut River Paddler’s Trail.
- The Vermont Land Trust and the Friends of the West River will use VHCB funds to purchase and conserve 21 acres in Brattleboro along the West River, including a section of the West River Trail.
- The Nature Conservancy will add to three existing preserves, in Pawlet (North Pawlet Hills), Bristol (Deer Leap), and Manchester (Mt. Equinox Natural Area).
- The Town of Plainfield will use VHCB funds to help complete renovations to the historic Plainfield Town Hall, used by the community for public meetings, musical and theatrical performances.
Gus Seelig, Executive Director of the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board said, “These funding commitments represent the breadth of VHCB’s conservation mission, encompassing wildlife habitat protection, farmland conservation, public recreation opportunities, and the preservation of historic public buildings. With these elements intact, future generations of Vermonters will be able to appreciate the working landscape, natural areas and community landmarks that are fundamental to our identity and to the tourism and agriculture sectors.”
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June 27, 2013
Contact: Ron Rupp, Vermont Housing & Conservation Board
(802) 828-2912; firstname.lastname@example.org
Vermont Awarded $2.3 Million to Protect Children from Lead Poisoning
MONTPELIER - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded a $2.3 million grant to the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB) to protect children and families from the hazards of lead-based paint. This award will be used to control lead paint hazards in the homes of low-income families and to raise awareness about the dangers of lead paint, which is still found in the majority of Vermont homes.
Senator Patrick Leahy said, “We owe it to our children to provide the best start possible, and VHCB’s Lead Program has a great track record, making more than 2,000 homes lead-safe over the past 15 years. These funds will be used to help Vermont homeowners and landlords reduce lead paint hazards in 150 homes over a three-year period.”
Governor Peter Shumlin said, “It is vitally important that we address the dangers of lead poisoning, which remains the number one environmental threat to young children, causing neurological, behavioral, and developmental damage.”
The HUD Office of Healthy Homes and the Lead Hazard Control grant program support the elimination of dangerous lead hazards from homes owned by low-income households, stimulate private sector investment in lead hazard control, and educate the public about the dangers of lead-based paint.
“Providing healthy and safe homes for families and children is a top priority for HUD,” said HUD New England Regional Administrator Barbara Fields, “HUD is committed to protecting Vermont children from the hazards that can be caused by deteriorated lead paint, and mold that follows moisture intruding into the home.”
Since 1994 the Vermont Lead Hazard Reduction Program at VHCB (also known as Healthy Homes Vermont) has used more than $28 million in Lead Hazard Control Grants from HUD to address lead hazards in more than 2,200 homes and apartments throughout the state. The program also provides lead safety training to property owners, contractors and child care providers and conducts outreach and public education efforts to prevent lead poisoning.
Eligible properties receive free services in the form of testing, risk assessment, work plans, construction oversight, and clearance, as well as grants and 0% interest deferred loans (payable when a property is sold) for the lead hazard control work. Homeowners are eligible for up to $25,000 (40% grant and 60% deferred loan) to pay certified contractors. Landlords and property owners are eligible for up to $15,000 per apartment (30% grant and 70% deferred loan). To learn more and apply, visit: http://www.vhcb.org/lead.html or call (802) 828-5064.
A number of state and federal regulations require property owners and contractors to deal safely with lead paint and prevent the creation of lead-contaminated dust, the most common pathway for childhood lead exposure. Adults can be at risk as well from exposure at work or from certain hobbies. More information about applicable regulations and ways to prevent lead poisoning can be found at http://www.LeadSafeVermont.org
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June 13, 2013
Contact: Gus Seelig 828-3251
VHCB Presents Awards to Housing and Conservation Heroes at 25th Anniversary Celebration
In celebrating 25 years of investment in affordable housing, land conservation and historic preservation at an event at Shelburne Farms on Tuesday, June 11, the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board presented awards to exemplary practitioners and partners. Gus Seelig, VHCB Executive Director, said, “The honorees have dedicated their careers—more than 20 years each—to improving Vermont communities with investments in housing, agriculture and historic preservation. We are proud to work with such talented and inspirational partners. We recognize that our work is only as good as the ability of our partners to produce excellent results. They do that by engaging their communities in solving our most difficult housing and community development challenges and acting on important land conservation opportunities as they arise—often on very short notice! Our partners consistently take on projects that help transform neighborhoods and communities while maintaining our working landscape.”
Brenda Torpy, who has served as the executive director of the Champlain Housing Trust since 1991, was presented with the highest honor, given in memory of Mollie Beattie, one of VHCB’s original board members. Mollie served as Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildife and later as the first woman to head the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Torpy was recognized for her leadership of the Champlain Housing Trust in Burlington, the nation’s largest community land trust, with $250 million in assets under its stewardship. CHT has more than 4,000 members and has developed 2,400 homes in northwest Vermont. Under Brenda’s leadership CHT and partners have engaged in thoughtful smart growth in South Burlington, downtown Burlington, the Old North End and the New North End; later this month a project breaks ground in Shelburne.
In 1988, Brenda coordinated the $21-million tenant-led buyout of 336 homes at Northgate Apartments in Burlington. She was a Ford Foundation Leader for a Changing World 2002, is President of the National Community Land Trust Network, and serves on the Governor’s Housing Council of Vermont. In 2008 CHT won the UN World Habitat Award for the Global North for its leadership in the developing the community land trust model of permanently affordable and community-controlled housing. In addition to housing, CHT has developed non-profit facilities, commercial and retail space. The organization completes $75 million in community development work annually, generating jobs and stimulating the economy.
Paul Bohne accepted a Community Stewardship Award for the Town of Shelburne. Shelburne has supported both housing development and land conservation projects over the years, exemplifying VHCB’s dual goal mission. Beginning in 1989, with the restoration of the farm barn and the conservation of Southern Acres at Shelburne Farms, and then in 1994 with the protection of Shelburne Pond by The Nature Conservancy and the town’s conservation of the LaPlatte River Marsh Natural Area, Shelburne had conserved 700 acres and protected landmark historic structures with public use. Twenty homes were developed at Ockert Apartments by the Champlain Housing Trust in 2003. The Lake Champlain Land Trust conserved an additional 66 acres in the Upper LaPlatte Marsh and created a small park in the village between 2004 and 2008. Today, in a dual goal project close to the village center, 73 apartments are being created for families and seniors at Harrington Village, a new development under construction by the Champlain Housing Trust, Housing Vermont and Cathedral Square. Complementing the housing development, 13 acres will be added to the LaPlatte River greenway, opening up additional opportunities for trails and public access to the river.
The Bolton Valley Nordic and Back Country Land Conservation Project won the VHCB Outstanding Partnership Award, presented to the Vermont Land Trust, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, the Friends of Bolton Valley Nordic and Back Country, the Town of Bolton, the Catamount Trail Association and the Green Mountain Club. The partnership raised $1.85 million to conserve 1,100 acres of land for addition to the Mt. Mansfield State Forest, preserving public recreational use and important wildlife habitat. The project began when a local group, the Friends of Bolton Valley Nordic and Back Country, came together to prevent the loss of public access to forested uplands with miles of ski trails. Since that time, more than 2 years ago, these groups have worked tirelessly to piece together funding to conserve the land. The trails will remain open to the public for generations to come.
Paul Bruhn, Executive Director of the Preservation Trust of Vermont, was presented with a Community Stewardship Award in recognition of PTV’s work building collaborative partnerships to preserve and restore Vermont’s historic places and working with organizations, businesses, municipalities, and state and federal government to revitalize and maintain the integrity of our downtowns and village centers. Paul helped to start the Preservation Trust of Vermont and in 1980 he was hired as executive director to guide the organization in its mission, helping local organizations and communities save and use their historic places. Since that time, PTV has provided assistance with nearly 2,000 historic preservation projects around the state, supporting local groups in their efforts, organizing professional education and administering grant funds. In 2010, PTV received an award for organizational excellence from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Two practitioners were awarded the Community Catalyst Award, named for John Nutting, another original VHCB Board member who was appointed in 1987 to represent the interests of low-income Vermonters. John served as a United Church of Christ minister who demonstrates through his life work the effectiveness of steadily serving his community—both immediate and statewide—by taking on tasks large and small with passion and integrity.
Alex Wylie, retiring Agricultural Director for the Vermont Land Trust, was presented with a John Nutting Community Catalyst Award. Over her 20-year career at VLT, Alex helped VLT conserve approximately 750 farms and 190,000 acres of farmland. Her responsibilities have included overseeing VLT’s farm project development, managing landowner relations, assisting with stewardship decisions, and helping to lead VLT’s Farmland Access Program. Beginning her career with a one-year stint at VHCB and continuing through the early years of the farmland conservation program, Alex assisted in developing state policy around farmland conservation. Before working for the Vermont Land Trust, Alex owned and operated a 120-cow dairy farm in Leicester.
Elisabeth Kulas, Executive Director of the Housing Trust of Rutland County, earned a John Nutting Community Catalyst Award. She has led that organization for more than 20 years during which time she has taken on extraordinarily tough community development challenges with optimism, perseverance and ultimately, success. The results of that work, undertaken with a committed board, talented staff, and partners, are visible throughout Rutland County, and include buildings like the Tuttle Block in Rutland, the Erastus Thayer House in Brandon, the Adams House in Fair Haven and the Stanislaus School and convent in West Rutland.
Download the press release
On Wednesday, May 1, Nan Roman, a member of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Commission, will present the findings of a recently issued report, Housing, America’s Future: New Directions for National Policy, to legislators in a joint House and Senate hearing at 9:30 a.m. in Room 11 at the Vermont State House.
PRESS RELEASE - Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Contact: Nancy Eldridge, Executive Director, Cathedral Square Corporation, 802-863-2224;
Bipartisan Policy Center Report on Housing to be Presented
by National Housing Expert to Joint Legislative Committees
Jennifer Hollar, Deputy Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Housing & Com-munity Development said, “We are honored to welcome Nan Roman to Vermont. The report’s balanced recommendations, with input from Vermont housing leaders, aim to move national pol-icy forward to the benefit of our citizens. A number of the Commission’s recommendations validate successful Vermont housing programs that are serving seniors, renters and homeowners.”
Housing Commissioner Nan Roman, President and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness and one of 21 commissioners who worked on the report, said, “The Commission’s overarching goal was to insure that our housing system enables households to exercise choice in their living situations as their needs and preferences change over time. Vermont has a good head start in several of these policy areas with a nationally recognized network of non-profit afford-able housing developers, an innovative model for homeownership coupled with a statewide housing counseling system, the SASH (Support and Services at Home) Program, that uses hous-ing as a platform to deliver health services to seniors, reducing hospital stays and health care expenses, and strong HOME and tax credit programs serving low-income renters. We need to learn from such successes and develop a new vision for housing policy that provides a path for-ward during this period of great change.”
The Commission aims to reform the nation’s housing policy by crafting a package of re-alistic and actionable policy recommendations that respond to both the near-term and long-term challenges facing the housing sector. Making a continual effort to include both Republican and Democratic perspectives in its outreach and research, the Housing Commission brings together a diversity of housing experts, business leaders, former elected officials, academics, and other key stakeholders.
The report recommendations are the culmination of a 16-month process that engaged the housing community through a series of regional housing forums. In July 2012 Vermont housing advocates and policy makers traveled to Bar Harbor, Maine to offer their perspectives and make policy recommendations to the Housing Commission.
The Commission considers a robust housing sector supported by a strong and stable sys-tem of housing finance to be crucial to allowing the economy to reach its full potential particularly in rural states like Vermont. Major topics and policy recommendations in the report include:
- Reform HUD programs to improve accountability and flexibility within the delivery system and, wherever possible, devolve housing investment decisions to states and locali-ties to address regional needs. Preserve and expand the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) by 50 percent over current funding levels and increase gap funding through the HOME Program;
- A new system is proposed using Housing Choice Vouchers to provide rental assistance to the neediest families (at or below 30 percent of area median income).
- Maintain and rehabilitate existing public housing to preserve the value of prior investments.
- Increase coordination of federal programs that deliver health and long-term care services to seniors in residential settings, resulting in cost savings for the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
- A blueprint for a new system of housing finance that increases the role of private, risk-bearing capital to provide for a vibrant rental housing market and support homeowner-ship, ensuring that mortgages remain available and affordable to qualified homebuyers. Reducing the government’s role in supporting mortgage credit would protect taxpayers while increasing the diversity of funding sources.
During a two-day visit to Vermont, Roman and Nikki Rudnick, Associate Director of the Bipartisan Policy Center, will meet with legislators, Administration officials, Congressional staff and members of the press.
Former U.S. Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell founded the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) in 2007 to combine politically bal-anced policymaking with strong, proactive advocacy and outreach. The BPC Housing Commission was launched in October 2011 to develop a new vision for federal housing policy. The Housing Commission Co-chairs are former U.S. Senators Christopher “Kit” Bond, Mel Martinez and George Mitchell and former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros.
Link to the Executive Summary
Link to the Full Report
Summary of Vermont Housing Programs and the Report Recommendations
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March 29, 2013
BARRE TOWN FOREST PROTECTED
MONTPELIER, Vt. – A 355-acre forest which includes a variety of popular trails used for hiking, mountain biking, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing will be protected as the Barre Town Forest, The Trust for Public Land and the U.S. Forest Service announced today.
The land in Graniteville and Websterville includes the site of one of the first granite quarries in Barre, established in 1790.
“The trail network on the Barre Town Forest and surrounding area is home to unique recreation opportunities,” said Rodger Krussman, Vermont Director for The Trust for Public Land. “Protecting this place for future generations to come is an excellent way to achieve our mission of protecting land for people. We are grateful to the Vermont congressional delegation and our state and private partners for their support for this project that will help the local community.”
The Trust for Public Land facilitated the Town’s acquisition of the land from the Rock of Ages Corp. and other private owners. It will be protected from future development with a conservation easement held by Vermont Land Trust and Vermont Housing & Conservation Board.
“Town ownership of local forests is a New England tradition, dating back to colonial days, said Forest Service Deputy Chief Jim Hubbard. “We’re glad to be partners in this great success story.”
“This is a momentous event for us,” said Barre Town Manager Carl Rogers. “It will improve the quality of life for people who live here by providing the health benefits of outdoor recreation. And it will bring visitors, who will help our local economy.”
Barre Town resident Tom Stuwe applauded the protection, “These trails helped me lose 50 pounds and had a big impact on my health. I am thrilled the property will forever be open to my family and the rest of Vermont.”
Senator Patrick Leahy, along with Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Peter Welch, worked closely with The Trust for Public Land to ensure that the Barre Town Forest received a grant from the U.S. Forest Service’s Community Forest and Open Space Program, authored by Sen. Leahy in the 2008 Farm Bill.
Sen. Leahy said, “A community treasure is being enhanced. The Barre Town Forest will be a tremendous recreation asset for central Vermonters, and it will also draw tourists from across the region. I am proud of the federal participation in this partnership, with The Trust for Public Land and full suite of local, state and nongovernmental conservation partners.”
Congressman Welch said, “The Barre Town Forest project is the result of years of determined effort, partnerships at all levels, and tireless dedication of local volunteers. It will provide generations of visitors with unique recreational opportunities and preserve an important chapter of the region’s rich history. Congratulations to Barre Town, the Trust for Public Land, and all of the partners for the successful results of your dedicated efforts on behalf of this great project.”
The $1.37 million for the project came from a variety of public and private sources. The largest, $400,000, was from the U.S. Forest Service’s Community Forest program. The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board contributed $310,500. Additionally, $220,000 came from the Community Forest Fund established by the Open Space Conservancy and Jane’s Trust, $100,000 each from the Town of Barre and Millstone Trails Association, and the remainder came from private donors and foundations.
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Waterbury Recovery Efforts Get a Boost with $1 Million VHCB Grant Award
27 New Apartments Planned for Ladd Hall on South Main Street in Waterbury
On Thursday, January 24, the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board approved awards of $625,000 in VHCB funding and $455,000 in federal HOME Program funds to the Central Vermont Community Land Trust and Housing Vermont for the acquisition and reconfiguration of Ladd Hall on South Main Street in Waterbury to create 27 new, affordable apartments.
Ladd Hall was originally constructed in the 1890s. A wing was added in the 1950s to provide a dormitory for nurses employed at the State Hospital. The building was later converted to state offices. When Tropical Storm Irene hit in August of 2011, water entered the basement via heating system tunnels connected to other state buildings. Since that time, the building has been vacant.
Vermont State Representative Rebecca Ellis, who serves as vice chair of the Waterbury Select Board and chairs the Waterbury Long-Term Community Recovery Steering Committee, said, “Tropical Storm Irene starkly highlighted the need for affordable housing in the Waterbury area. In our post-flood planning process, Waterbury residents ranked affordable housing among their top priorities for future flood resiliency. I am incredibly pleased that CVCLT and Housing Vermont, working in partnership with the state and local governments, have identified a location that will both enhance Waterbury’s walking downtown and preserve a historic building. The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board’s support is critical to the success of this important project.”
Waterbury was hit hard by Tropical Storm Irene, and more than 200 homes were damaged or lost, putting more pressure on an already tight housing market. Even before the storm, there was a low vacancy rate for rentals and a need for more affordable housing in town. The community group Revitalizing Waterbury, and the non-profit housing developers CVCLT and Housing Vermont have previously developed new affordable housing in the area. The Stimson Graves block, developed in 1993 and rehabilitated in 2010 to increase energy efficiency, is on Stowe Street in Waterbury and houses the senior center, commercial space and 14 apartments for seniors on the upper floors. In 2000, CVCLT developed 14 family apartments at the Seminary Apartments in Waterbury Center.
Christine Hart, VHCB Chair, said, “VHCB is pleased to support this important project with its downtown location and a day care center next door. It complements other flood mitigation work we are involved in, such as replacement units for public housing lost in Brattleboro and $2 million in matching funds for a FEMA program that will conserve land under destroyed homes that need to be rebuilt out of the flood plain.
The 1890s building will be converted into two 3-bedroom apartments on the first and second floors and a one-bedroom loft on the third floor. The historic staircase at the front entrance will remain and each apartment will have a front entrance as well as a rear entrance leading to the elevator. The 1950s wing will be demolished and replaced by a three-story addition with 23 apartments. The entrance lobby, which has direct access to the parking lot in the rear of the building, will also have an elevator and community space. A door from the community space will lead to an outdoor terrace for use by the residents. Common laundry rooms will be provided on the 2nd and 3rd floors.
The new construction portion will be energy efficient with a new heating system to serve the entire building and with the capability to connect to a district heat system. Solar domestic hot water will also be part of the heating system. Once completed, Ladd Hall will offer thirteen 1-bedroom, eleven 2-bedroom, and two 3-bedroom apartments. Construction could start as early as the fall of 2013 and the new apartments will be ready for occupancy by the fall of 2014.
“This redevelopment project is an incredible outcome after experiencing the negative effects of Tropical Storm Irene. Adding more residential capacity in our downtown will only help make us more vibrant,” said State Representative Tom Stevens.
Nancy Owens, President of Housing Vermont, said, “The residents of Waterbury demonstrated the best qualities of Vermonters as they reacted so quickly to the devastation from Tropical Storm Irene. The reconstruction of Ladd Hall will advance Waterbury’s recovery. We appreciate VHCB’s support and look forward to working with CVCLT to make Ladd Hall a contributing resource to a vibrant downtown.”
The Vermont Housing & Conservation Board makes loans and grants for the creation of permanently affordable housing and for the conservation of Vermont’s agricultural and recreational land, natural areas and historic properties. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, VHCB has awarded funds for the creation of more than 10,000 affordable homes, the conservation of 594 farms, nearly 400,000 acres of land and 57 historic buildings restored for community use. www.vhcb.org
Housing Vermont is a private, nonprofit development company founded in 1988 to produce permanently affordable rental housing for Vermonters through partnerships with communities and the private sector.
Since its inception, Housing Vermont has raised more than $255 million in private equity to finance 155 affordable rental housing developments throughout the State. This equity has leveraged an additional $352 million in private financing and public investment. The 4,700 apartments created or renovated in these efforts serve low and moderate income Vermonters including seniors and those with special needs. Many developments also include commercial space. www.housingvermont.org
The Central Vermont Community Land Trust addresses the shortage of affordable housing and the housing affordability gap for low- and moderate-income residents by developing rental housing, single-family homes, and ownership within mobile home parks. Their NeighborWorks® Homeownership Center delivers comprehensive services to homebuyers. The HomeOwnership Center also manages a Property Rehabilitation loan fund and provides property management services for CVCLT-owned rental housing and mobile home parks and for some units developed by other entities. www.cvclt.org
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December 4, 2012
Contact: Connie Snow, (802) 246-2103, email@example.com
More information on the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement awards
Live feed of the Smart Growth award presentation on December 5, 2012 beginning at 11:00 a.m.
Video footage of the ribbon cutting ceremony at the building and an interview with Connie Snow are available on request.
EPA Recognizes Brattleboro Food Co-op and Housing Development with 2012 Smart Growth Achievement Award
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced four winners of the 2012 Smart Growth Achievement Awards. In a national competition among 47 applicants from 25 states, the Brattleboro Food Co-op, the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust and Housing Vermont won the Main Street Revitalization category for their development of a new, energy efficient building for the co-op with 24 apartments on the upper stories. The winning entries were chosen based on their effectiveness in creating sustainable communities, fostering equitable development among public, private, and non-profit stakeholders and serving as national models for environmentally and economically sustainable development. The EPA will recognize the winning organizations at a ceremony in Washington D.C. on December 5.
Located on the corner of Canal and Main Streets, the new building replaces the former co-op storefront in a strip mall on the same lot, which was demolished. The development moved the co-op out of the flood plain and created a small public park along the Whetstone Brook where a pedestrian bridge leads to the town transportation center. The new building façade is even with other downtown buildings that line the sidewalk, restoring the historic development pattern.
Governor Peter Shumlin announced, “Vermont is honored to receive this award from the EPA. The partnership between the Brattleboro Food Co-op and the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust, supported by tax credits raised by Housing Vermont and investments of state and federal funds by the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, is a keystone project promoting smart growth, affordable housing, access to services and equitable community development. This $12 million development has created jobs and will spur the local economy while providing 24 new affordable homes.”
The project was nominated by the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, an EPA Smart Growth Achievement Award winner in the category of Policy and Regulations in 2007. Gus Seelig, VHCB Executive Director, said, “This project epitomizes the implementation of the Board’s policies. It not only represents excellent smart growth, it brings together housing, food systems and conservation all in a manner that promotes a stronger rural economy and the best kind of rural economic development. The partnership honored today continues a 25-year effort in Brattleboro to strengthen its downtown while promoting social equity.”
Connie Snow, Executive Director of the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust, said, “Given the extremely low vacancy rate for rental apartments in Brattleboro, these new units will provide a significant boost to the number of affordable homes in the heart of the downtown—perfect for young people as well as older and disabled citizens—providing ready access to jobs, services, shopping and public transportation.”
Alex Gyori, Manager of the Brattleboro Food Co-op, said, “The Co-op employs 160 people, has 5,000 shareholders and does more than $16 million in business per year partnering with area farmers to offer fresh, local, healthy food. We have hired 15 new employees since the new facility opened in June and a significant increase in sales is projected in the coming year. It has been very exciting to witness the transformation of our retail space and to partner with the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust to add the housing element to our expansion project.”
Senator Leahy secured $200,000 in HUD Economic Development Initiative funding for the housing development. Nineteen of the 24 apartments in the mixed-income development will be affordable to households earning 60% of median income or less and the Brattleboro Housing Authority will provide Section 8 housing vouchers to increase the affordability of five of those apartments.
The building, designed by Gossens Bachman architects, incorporates many energy saving features. Heat generated by the refrigerators will be recycled to heat the store and the apartments and provide hot water. The construction materials include locally harvested and milled flooring donated by the Vermont Land Trust and slate siding manufactured in Vermont. The apartments have continuous fresh air ventilation with heat recovery. The Co-op has a lease agreement for a solar photovoltaic system that will allow them to purchase the system after five years. Storm water runoff will be filtered by a green roof, permeable surfaces in the parking lot and a 20-foot buffer strip in the new public park created along the Whetstone Brook.
Town manager Barb Sondag said, “The new building has been open since mid-June and is bustling with activity. For the town of Brattleboro, this development increases economic activity in the downtown, bringing shoppers to town and creating a ripple effect benefiting other businesses.”
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OCTOBER 30, 2012
Contact: Karen Freeman, VHCB Conservation Director: 828-5067; firstname.lastname@example.org
Vermont Housing & Conservation Board Commits $3.2 Million to Conserve Land for Agriculture, Recreation and Wildlife Habitat
Montpelier – At a meeting in September, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) committed nearly $2.7 million in state and federal funding to conserve 1,562 acres of agricultural land on 13 farms in nine counties and $555,000 to conservation projects in Johnson, Bristol, Barton, Jeffersonville, Maidstone and Proctor.
Commenting on the farmland conservation projects, Chuck Ross, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets said,
“From Berkshire on the Canadian border to Whitingham on the Massachusetts state line and from Wells on the New York state line to Newbury on the Connecticut River, these farms represent the diversity of Vermont’s agricultural enterprises. Four are traditional dairy farms, one is an organic dairy, and one is a dairy processing its own cheese. The others include three beef or mixed livestock farms, two vegetable farms, and two crop farms. The sale of conservation easements will provide these farmers with capital to expand, diversify, pay down debt, or to pass farms to the next generation upon retirement.”
The Vermont Land Trust and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture will co-hold conservation easements on the farms along with VHCB. VHCB uses state revenue from the property transfer tax and federal funds from the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to purchase conservation easements on farmland, permanently protecting the land from development.
At the same meeting, VHCB committed $555,000 to six conservation projects. Active fundraising efforts are ongoing in each of these communities to complete the project budgets.
- The Vermont River Conservancy will purchase and conserve a popular swimming hole in Johnson and transfer it to the town.
- A second Vermont River Conservancy project undertaken in partnership with the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation will increase flood resiliency in Bristol by restricting development in the floodplain of the New Haven River.
- The Vermont Chapter of the Nature Conservancy will acquire over one mile of frontage in the Maidstone Bends portion of the Connecticut River, protecting floodplain forests, establishing a riparian buffer and allowing continued agricultural use of the property.
- The first Abenaki tribal forest in Vermont will be created in Barton, enabling natural resource based economic development for the tribe, as well as providing recreational and educational opportunities for the public.
- The Village of Jeffersonville will acquire a parcel to create a town park adjacent to the historic village center. Conservation will allow the land to continue to provide floodwater storage, protecting the village from flooding during extreme storms similar to those Vermont experienced in 2011.
- The Preservation Trust of Vermont will acquire the Vermont Marble Museum in Proctor, an educational and economic center and tourist destination. The site was once the main manufacturing plant of the Vermont Marble Company, the largest marble manufacturer in the world and, early in the 20th century, the largest U.S. corporation in the world.
Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, VHCB is a state funding agency that makes loans and grants to conserve farmland, natural areas, recreational land, and historic buildings and to preserve and create affordable housing. Since 1987, VHCB has assisted nonprofit organizations, municipalities and state agencies to conserve 395,175 acres of agricultural and recreational lands and natural areas, to restore 56 historic public buildings and to create and preserve 10,725 affordable homes.
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Oct. 1, 2012
Susan Allen, Office of the Governor, 802-279-8493
Ron Rupp, Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, 802-828-2912
Governor Shumlin Announces $1.7 Million Grant for Healthy Homes Program
MONTPELIER – Gov. Peter Shumlin and Vermont’s Congressional delegation announced today that the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB) will receive a $1.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund Healthy Homes Vermont. The new program will add to existing rehabilitation programs, providing assistance to correct building issues that contribute to unhealthy living conditions like mold, moisture and pest infestation, and particularly affect vulnerable groups, such as children with asthma and the elderly.
VHCB will work with the NeighborWorks® HomeOwnership Centers in Burlington, St. Albans, Brattleboro, Barre, West Rutland and Lyndonville, as well as the Vermont Center for Independent Living in Montpelier, to identify and address health and safety hazards in housing serving low-income residents. Parks Place Community Center in Bellows Falls and the Vermont Department of Health will help with outreach and public education efforts. This project will also support efforts by the Rutland Regional Medical Center to address elevated asthma rates in Rutland County.
The project aims to address health and safety hazards in at least 250 units of low-income housing over a three-year period. Outreach events will provide information to an additional approximately 10,000 people. Program funding will be used in conjunction with rehabilitation, weatherization, property maintenance and lead paint hazard reduction to address housing-related hazards in a coordinated fashion. Statewide standards will be developed for health and safety evaluation and hazard assessment.
“Ongoing research demonstrates that unhealthy housing can cause or aggravate a variety of medical conditions and preventable injuries,” the Governor said. “The timing of this award will help us provide further assistance to property owners dealing with health and safety issues related to Tropical Storm Irene, while helping Vermonters across the state to create healthier home environments.”
VHCB has operated a HUD-funded Lead Paint Hazard Reduction Program for 18 years, reducing lead paint hazards in more than 2,000 homes and apartments throughout the state. VHCB also administered a Healthy Homes Pilot Project in 2005, under a separate HUD grant.
“Homes that are lead-free and safe for children has long been a Vermont priority,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy. “This is a healthy-homes investment in one of our great assets, our older housing stock.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders said, “With this award, HUD has recognized Vermont’s excellent track record of protecting children and their families from health and safety hazards in the home. In addition to having a lot of older homes with lead paint, Vermont is now struggling with addressing mold in homes as a result of Tropical Storm Irene. This funding could not have come at a better time.”
“This is great news. These funds will bolster Vermont’s efforts to make homes healthier and safer for children and families throughout the state,” said Rep. Peter Welch.
For many years, Vermont’s Congressional delegation has supported funding for the HUD budget and encouraged HUD to provide funding to mitigate health hazards in addition to lead paint through a more robust Healthy Homes program.
Healthy Homes Vermont will take a comprehensive approach to housing assistance and address a range of potential hazards. A healthy home is commonly defined as dry, clean, well-ventilated, pest-free, safe, contaminant-free, and well maintained.
Healthy Homes Program Director Ron Rupp said, “Given our experience running a pilot Healthy Homes project, we expect to have this program up and running within a few months. More information will be available on our website (www.vhcb.org/healthyhomes) or people can call 828-5064.”
For Immediate Release
Contact: Noelle Karla Sevoian
VERMONT WORKING LANDS ENTERPRISE FUND AND INITIATIVE LAUNCHES
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets is pleased to announce the creation of the Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB), a newly appointed board which will create and execute a fast-paced timeline to support investment in Vermont’s working landscape.
As stated in the Working Landscape Action Plan by The Vermont Working Landscape Partnership, “Over 97 percent of Vermonters polled by the Council on the Future of Vermont (CFV) endorsed the value
of the working landscape as key to our future.” Due to this poll, the 2012 Legislative session brought with it a focused commitment to Vermonter’s values by passing the Working Lands Enterprise initiative. The initiative is at the intersection of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development for the management and investment of $1 million into agricultural and forest based businesses.
Fifteen Vermonters have been appointed to the Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB). The Board will direct the funds for strategic investments and be provided with administrative support by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets. The board is charged with 1) the establishment of an application process for and awarding of grants and loans; (2) entering into performance contracts to provide investments and services; (3) identifying workforce needs and programs, strategic infrastructure and investment priorities; and (4) pursuing additional resources for grants and loans.
The WLEB had its first meeting on August 21, 2012, and is currently in the process of determining the funding criteria for the requests for proposals (RFP’s). The Board has set an ambitious target date of November to announce the first round of RFP’s. Requests for proposals will target Vermont enterprises and non-profits (both public and private) in all stages of growth looking for mini-grants, infrastructure investments, or investments in technical assistance such as business planning and other services. Participation is encouraged from individuals who have not recently (or ever) received funding from the State of Vermont in the past. Participation is also encouraged from individuals who focus on innovation, such as building pilot programs that add value to farm and forest commodities.
Chuck Ross, Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets (Chair); Mike Snyder, Commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation;
Lawrence Miller, Secretary of Commerce and Community Development; Kurt E. Zschau, Forester/Vermont Real Estate Manager;
Emma Marvin, Butternut Mountain Farm;
Mike Rainville, Maple Landmark; Brian Kemp, Mountain Meadow Farms;
Amanda Ellis-Thurber, Lilac Ridge Farm;
Kathleen Wanner, Executive Director of the Vermont Woodlands Association;
Eleanor Léger, Eden Ice Cider;
Eric DeLuca, National Cooperative Business Association;
Steven P. Marsh, Community National Bank;
Jo Bradley, Manager of VT Economic Development Authority;
Ellen Kahler, Executive Director of VT Sustainable Jobs Fund;
Gus Seelig, Executive Director of VT Housing Conservation Board;
As stated by the in The Action Plan of the Vermont Working Landscape Partnership, “Vermonters desire a strong working landscape for all its scenic, cultural, economic, environmental, and recreational benefits.” And, Vermont’s land based economy has proven to be a driver for ongoing economic recovery. The Working Lands Initiative aims to protect Vermont’s countryside for future generations by maintaining a balance between responsible land use practices and economic development within the agricultural and forest product sectors. The initiative aims for healthy, active, and sustainable working lands, just as much as it targets economic development.
Click here to read the full Act, “An act relating to preserving Vermont’s working landscape”
Click here to stay informed on the progress of the initiative at the Vermont Council on Rural Development partnership page
Click here to visit the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets site
Click here to visit the Vermont Department of Forestry, Parks and Recreation site
Click here to visit the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development site
For more information on the Working Lands Enterprise Board or how to apply for funds, please contact Noelle Sevoian at the Agency of Agriculture at 802.578.9072
About the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets: VAAFM facilitates, supports and encourages the growth and viability of agriculture in Vermont while protecting the working landscape, human health, animal health, plant health, consumers and the environment.
Stowe Land Trust Helps Town of Stowe Conserve 258-acre town forest on Cady Hill with 11 miles of Mountain Bike Trails
Stowe Land Trust Press Release
June 21, 2012
VHCB Invests $4.1 Million in State and Federal Funding to Protect 2,000 Acres Farmland, Conserve Habitat in North Pawlet Hills and Bolton Recreational Lands
At a meeting on May 10, the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board committed $3.4 million in state and federal funding to conserve 2,112 acres of farmland on 13 farms in Franklin, Chittenden, Addison and Orange Counties. VHCB matched $1.48 million in state funds with $1.92 million in federal funding for farmland protection from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). In each case, the farmers will sell conservation easements, limiting any future development to the terms of the easement. The Upper Valley Land Trust will conserve 70 acres of farmland in Bradford. The other farms, located in Bristol, Enosburgh, Sheldon, Bridport, Shoreham, St. Albans, Randolph, Ferrisburgh, Monkton and Charlotte, will be conserved by the Vermont Land Trust. Together, the conserved farms include more than 8,000 feet of frontage on rivers. Four farms involve transfers to new owners, and several involve new enterprises with young farmers
Vicky Drew, State Conservationist with NRCS, said, “Vermont’s Farmland Conservation Program keeps Vermont’s best farmland in agricultural use and promotes flood resiliency by conserving river frontage on farmland.”
Adam's Berry Farm, Charlotte - Adam Hausman, a fruit and berry farmer who has been leasing land at the Burlington Intervale Center, will relocate to 58 acres in Charlotte, to be conserved by the Vermont Land Trust. Hausman’s location in the Intervale has been flooded twice and he is excited to be able to purchase this conserved acreage for his business, Adam’s Berry Farm. The town of Charlotte and the Charlotte Land Trust are also contributing to the project.
Adam said, “We are looking forward to starting the field preparation this summer and excited for the future transition to the property.”
Ayers Brook Goat Dairy, Randolph - In Randolph, the former Hodgdon Farm will be acquired by Ayers Brook Goat Dairy LLC, which will establish a demonstration large-scale goat dairy, with the goal of increasing goat milk production and the number of goat dairies in Vermont through public education and outreach to farmers. The dairy will collaborate with Vermont Technical College to offer training and internships to students. Vermont Creamery Founders Allison Hooper and Bob Reese, the Castanea Foundation, the High Meadows Fund and the John Merck Fund have backed the project. The Vermont Creamery will purchase all of the milk produced. (Vermont Creamery is able to source only about a third of the goat’s milk they need in state.)
With a VHCB grant of $375,000, private fundraising, federal funds and a bargain sale, The Nature Conservancy will acquire 524 acres for addition to the North Pawlet Hills nature preserve. One of the most biologically diverse areas in the state, the preserve hosts 14 rare and uncommon plant species. The Nature Conservancy manages the preserve, providing public access for hiking, hunting and cross-country skiing. With beautiful views of the Metowee Valley from Haystack, Middle and Bald Mountains, the North Pawlet Hills is the most visited of The Nature Conservancy’s 54 preserves in the state.
North Pawlet Hills - In Rutland County, the Nature Conservancy will match a VHCB commitment of $375,000 with their own funds, federal funding through the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, and a bargain sale by the owner to acquire 524 acres for addition to a nature preserve at the North Pawlet Hills. This is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the state, with 14 rare and uncommon plant species. The preserve will encompass 1,420 acres with the addition of this parcel on the northern edge, extending the boundary to the Pawlet-Wells town line. The Nature Conservancy manages the preserve, providing public access for hiking, hunting and cross-country skiing. With beautiful views of the Metowee Valley from Haystack, Middle and Bald Mountains, the North Pawlet Hills is the most visited of The Nature Conservancy’s 54 preserves in the state. VHCB has supported TNC’s five previous conservation projects in this area. The Pawlet Town Plan has established a “Highlands” zoning district with a goal to “protect the forest resources, that natural beauty, the purity of the watershed headwaters, and the delicate ecological balance of these areas.”
Back country skiiers in Bolton on miles of groomed trails conserved by the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation and the Vermont Land Trust.
“We are a group of people with a long history of dedication to working, hiking and skiing in this beautiful niche of Vermont forest land. Our ages range from mid-20s to 90 years old. Our intent is to conserve the parcel of land being sold by Bolton Valley and its investors while maintaining access to public use.”
-- Ann Gotham, Friends of Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry
Bolton Backcountry - VHCB made a grant of $800,000 to the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation and the Vermont Land Trust to purchase and conserve 1,160 acres near Bolton Valley ski area, protecting wooded, upland habitat with 90 kilometers of groomed and backcountry ski and snowshoe trails used by over 15,000 people annually. The property supplies a critical wildlife habitat connection between Camel’s Hump State Park and Mt. Mansfield State Forest. An additional 8,000 acres in the area has been conserved over the past 10 years by the Chittenden County Uplands Conservation Project, a community conservation effort. With a bargain sale of $550,000 and an ambitious fundraising plan by the Vermont Land Trust to secure an additional $1.05 million, a closing on the property is planned in June of 2013, with a simultaneous transfer to the Vermont Department of Forests Parks and Recreation as an addition to the Mt. Mansfield State Forest.
The state intends to offer a license agreement to Bolton Valley, or a successor owner of the downhill ski area, to continue to operate the Nordic trail system. The trails are used by several ski teams and clubs, including Essex and Burlington High Schools, Northwest Vermont Nordic Ski Club, and UVM's top-ranked Nordic team. The Vermont Land Trust is working in partnership with a local organization, Friends of Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry, to complete the fundraising goal.
“We are a group of people with a long history of dedication to working, hiking and skiing in this beautiful niche of Vermont forest land,” said Ann Gotham, coordinator of the Friends of Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry. “Our ages range from mid-20s to 90 years old. Our intent is to conserve the parcel of land being sold by Bolton Valley and its investors while maintaining access to public use.”
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Champlain Housing Trust Wins $100,000 Housing for Everyone Award from TD Charitable Foundation
Award to help expand affordable lending program
Burlington, Vermont – The Champlain Housing Trust announced today that the organization has been selected as a winner of the TD Charitable Foundation’s 2011 Housing for Everyone competition, one of 25 selected nationally out of a pool of about 500 submissions.
The Housing for Everyone award comes with a $100,000 grant to advance CHT’s efforts to provide and sustain affordable housing in northwestern Vermont. The grant specifically will be dedicated to an expansion of the Champlain Housing Loan Fund, CHT’s affordable lending arm, including attaining Community Development Financial Institution certification from the United States Treasury.
“We are so very thankful for TD’s support of our work to grow and diversify our programs to build sustainability in these uncertain times,” said Brenda Torpy, CEO of the Housing Trust. “We are challenged by the need for our services even as mainly traditional funding sources have diminished, so we are appreciative that the TD Charitable Foundation stepped forward to help us build our capacity to grow towards the future.”
This year’s Housing for Everyone theme was Building for the Future, focusing on three critical areas in affordable housing:
- Energy efficiency, including weatherization initiatives, HVAC improvements, or implementation of alternative or renewable energy sources;
- Capacity building, including the expansion of programmatic efforts or staff development for organizations that provide affordable housing services for low-to-moderate-income individuals or in low-to-moderate-income communities. Infrastructure investment to expand services provided will also be considered;
- And new unit creation, where organizations focus their efforts on the creation of new affordable housing units that benefit low-to-moderate-income individuals or communities.
The Housing for Everyone grant competition is one of the TD Charitable Foundation’s most widely known signature programs. The competition invites local non-profit organizations from Maine to Florida to submit proposals outlining their plans and initiatives to support and provide affordable housing initiatives in their communities. Twenty-five organizations throughout TD Bank’s footprint from Maine to Florida were awarded a $100,000 grant for a total grant donation of $2.5 million in 2011.
About the Champlain Housing Trust
The Champlain Housing Trust, founded in 1984, is the largest community land trust in the country. Throughout Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties, CHT owns or manages more than 1,500 apartments, stewards 500 owner-occupied homes in its signature shared-equity program, provides services to five housing cooperatives, and offers affordable energy efficiency and rehab loans. In 2008, CHT won the prestigious United Nations World Habitat Award, recognizing its innovative, sustainable programs. More information is available at www.champlainhousingtrust.org or via Twitter (www.twitter.com/chtrust) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/chtrust).
About the TD Charitable Foundation
The TD Charitable Foundation is the charitable giving arm of TD Bank N.A., which operates as TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, and is one of the 10 largest commercial banking organizations in the United States. The Foundation's mission is to serve the individuals, families and businesses in all the communities where TD Bank operates, having made $82.7 million in charitable donations since its inception in 2002. The Foundation’s areas of focus are affordable housing, education and financial literacy, and the environment. More information on the TD Charitable Foundation, including an online grant application, is available at www.TDBank.com.
About TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank®
TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank, is one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S., providing more than 7.4 million customers with a full range of retail, small business and commercial banking products and services at more than 1,275 convenient locations throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Metro D.C., the Carolinas and Florida. In addition, TD Bank and its subsidiaries offer customized wealth management services through TD Wealth, and insurance products and services through TD Insurance, Inc. TD Bank is headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J., and Portland, Maine. To learn more, find TD Bank on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TDMoneyLoungeUS on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TDBank_US or visit www.tdbank.com.
TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank, is a member of TD Bank Group and a subsidiary of The Toronto-Dominion Bank of Toronto, Canada, a top 10 financial services company in North America and one of the few banks in the world rated Aaa by Moody's. The Toronto-Dominion Bank trades on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges under the ticker symbol "TD." To learn more, visit www.td.com.
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August 19, 2011
Contact: Ela Chapin 828 2117
VHCB’s Farm Viability Program Helps Farmers Increase Profits, Expand & Diversify
Montpelier – Farmers around the state are benefiting from in-depth, one-on-one business planning services provided by the Vermont Farm Viability Program. Since 2003, the program, which is administered by the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, has enrolled more than 375 farmers and ag-related businesses, providing on-farm business and financial planning as well as technical assistance ranging from veterinary services to marketing consultants. The program can help farmers to solidify their business skills, examine their farm’s profitability, plan for an expansion or diversification, transfer the farm to a new generation, and more.
Agency of Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross said, “The Farm Viability Program is making a real difference for farmers across the spectrum—from dairy to beef to vegetable farms and for value-added producers like cheese makers—this program is giving farmers the benefit of an inside look at business planning decisions that can increase profits. As a result, farms are expanding, diversifying, and hiring help—all good indicators for the industry and for Vermont’s economy.”
Among the farms that have enrolled in the program are Millborne Farm in Shoreham, a dairy farm also producing yogurt drinks, Stony Pond Farm in Fairfield, where Tyler and Melanie Webb specialize in dairy and beef, and Bread and Roses Farm, a vegetable farm run by Westford native Chris Siegriest.
Millborne Farm, Shoreham: Gert and Arda Schut moved to Shoreham in 1999 by way of their homeland, the Netherlands, where they felt hindered from starting their own farm by a quota system. They farmed in Connecticut for 10 years before moving to Vermont and building up their herd to 160 cows. The Schuts began thinking about diversification in the early 2000s and enlisted the help of UVM’s Food and Nutrition Department to develop a drinkable yogurt, which they began to produce on the farm in 2005, using milk from their own herd.
The yogurt business grew, but slowly, and in 2009 the Schuts enrolled in the Farm Viability Program to work with Al Curler, a consultant with UVM Extension, to develop a marketing plan for the yogurt. Following development of the plan, the Schuts were successful in expanding their drinkable yogurt operation tenfold—they are now utilizing 30,000 pounds of their own milk each week to make their own product and two other yogurt drink products packaged for private labels.
A $6,000 implementation grant from the Farm Viability Program in 2010 matched with their own funds enabled the Schuts to purchase an additional processing tank and a large walk-in cooler to help them expand their value-added enterprise. Producing their own yogurt has allowed the Schuts to operate at a profit and provide employment for seven people while also helping them weather downturns in milk prices.
A $6,000 implementation grant from the Farm Viability Program matched with their own funds enabled the Schuts to purchase an additional processing tank and a large walk-in cooler to help them expand their value-added enterprise.
Tyler Webb built this new farm building for direct marketing with assistance from the Vermont Farm Viability program.
Stony Pond Farm, Fairfield: Stony Pond Farm is a small dairy and beef operation established in 2004 by Tyler and Melanie Webb. Tyler enrolled with the Farm Viability Program in 2005 to produce a business plan for the young farm, giving the couple a solid understanding of how to get their operation off to a sound start. Since then, the Webbs have established a very successful farm business specializing in dairy and beef cows. Using their business plan, the Webbs are refining and improving their operation as they continue to consider diversification strategies for the future.
Since completion of their business plan, Stony Pond Farm has been awarded two implementation grants. A grant of $6,000 was awarded in 2009 and allowed for construction of a hoop house for their growing herd of cows. With the latest implementation grant of $3,500, Webb is finishing construction of a new, multi-purpose farm building. While sales at the farmers market and beef sales to wholesale accounts are booming, soon local customers will be able to purchase beef right on the farm. Now, with a central location for on-farm sales, Webb can increase his business potential and also be in a position to accommodate future value-added farm products. On Saturdays, the Tyler and Melanie can be found grilling their wildly popular grilled hamburgers at the Burlington Farmers Market!
Contact info: Tyler Webb 827-3693
Bread and Roses Farm, Westford: At Bread and Roses Farm, Westford native Chris Siegriest and Laura Williams lease acreage between the Westford Green and the Lamoille River where they grow vegetables under the community supported agriculture (CSA) model. They have grown the business to offer 70 full-sized shares and they remain the only CSA in Westford. Additionally, the farmers have a strong social mission: they produce vegetables to fill 50 smaller shares for residents at a local senior housing development and offer subsidized shares through donations from other shareholders and a cost-share agreement with NOFA-VT.
Chris and Laura completed a business plan with the Farm Viability Program in 2010, working with staff at the Intervale Center. According to Chris, “The Program was incredibly helpful for our business, especially in financial planning and analysis. Mark [Canella] helped walk us through our first loan, so we could establish a line of credit for the business which we used to purchase a bed shaper.”
In 2010, Chris and Laura applied for an implementation grant from the Farm Viability Program. An award of $3,000, matched with their own funds, helped them purchase a cultivation tractor. Chris erected a greenhouse in 2010-2011 that is now pumping out vegetables that were spared exposure to the heavy rains this spring when many direct-seeded crops were lost.
Contact Info: Chris Siegriest 802-233-4781
Chris Siegriest at Bread and Roses Farm in Westford
The Vermont Farm Viability Program works with private consultants and service providers such as the University of Vermont, The Intervale Center and NOFA-VT to deliver services. To produce a written business plan, farmers enrolled in the Farm Viability Program meet and work together with a consultant for approximately one year. In the second year, the program provides additional technical assistance and help updating the business plan. The business planning process involves the farmer in an assessment of the farm operation’s strengths and weaknesses and in an exploration of possible management changes to increase profits and meet production goals. Examples include consultations on keeping better production or financial records, financial benchmark analysis, meetings with crop or animal health specialists, new product enterprise analysis, estate and farm transfer planning, labor management, and value-added processing. Farmers who have completed business plans with the program are eligible for grants towards capital expenses or additional technical support to implement the business plan, when funding is available.
The Farm Viability Program accepts applications quarterly, with the next upcoming deadline on September 30. To request an application, call 828-3370 or visit the website, www.vhcb.org/viability.html. Funded by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the Farm Viability Program is a collaboration with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets with funding assistance provided by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA Rural Development and private foundations, including the John Merck Fund.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Contact: Joan Marie Misek 802 828 3249
VHCB AmeriCorps Program to Receive $1.1 Million, 3-Year Renewal Funding
Montpelier - The Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB) announced today a $1,134,000 grant award from The Corporation for National and Community Service. The funding will allow VHCB to sponsor nearly 100 AmeriCorps members over three years to serve at more than 20 non-profit organizations throughout Vermont, addressing community needs in the areas of housing and homelessness, energy savings, and environmental protection.
Governor Peter Shumlin said, “In 2010 the VHCB AmeriCorps Program was honored as one of the most innovative AmeriCorps programs in the United States. This grant renewal funding reaffirms the value of this important program to our communities. I congratulate the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board for receiving this grant and thank all those who have answered the call to service by joining AmeriCorps.”
Program Director Joan Marie Misek said, “In a difficult budget year and through a very competitive application process, we are thrilled to be able to continue this successful program, now entering it’s 15th year. Our members provide exemplary public service at non-profit housing development organizations, homeless shelters, home ownership centers, and at conservation organizations such as the Catamount Trails Association, the Green Mountain Club, the Nature Conservancy, the Vermont Institute of Natural Science and the Vermont Natural Resources Council.”
Over the 3-year grant period, nearly 100 new AmeriCorps members will connect individuals and families with affordable housing, deliver financial literacy programs, tackle energy efficiency measures and home repairs, steward public parks and conserved lands and educate youth on environmentally sustainable practices.
AmeriCorps is a national service program that engages Americans of all ages and backgrounds in service to meet critical needs. Its members serve in thousands of nonprofit organizations throughout the nation, developing civic and leadership skills that can last a lifetime. Among other activities, AmeriCorps members tutor and mentor youth, expand health services, build affordable housing, run after-school programs, support veterans, help communities respond to disasters, and recruit and train volunteers.
The Vermont Housing & Conservation Board AmeriCorps Program is currently recruiting members for the 2011-2012 service year, which begins on September 19 and runs until August 17, 2012. Members receive a $13,702 stipend, professional skills development trainings, an education award of $5,350 upon completion of the program, health insurance and possible school loan forbearance. For a list of available positions, call 802 828 3253 or see the website, www.vhcb.org/acorps or apply online by visiting AmeriCorps.gov
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May 24, 2011
Vermont Garners Two National Awards for Affordable Housing Programs
Washington, D.C. -- Vermont received national recognition for award-winning affordable housing programs on May 3 when the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development announced the Doorknocker Awards at the 20th anniversary of the HOME Program. The HOME Program is a block grant to states and cities used to fund housing affordable to lower-income Americans. The Green Mountain State took home two awards and an honorable mention in the competition, with only 14 awards presented nationally.
Senator Patrick Leahy, who has been a leader in securing federal funds from HUD to create affordable housing in Vermont, said, “For almost 20 years, Vermont has made terrific use of HOME funding to develop affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households. For many families, stable, affordable housing is a stepping stone to economic independence. Our affordable housing programs are well coordinated, productive and nationally known.”
The State of Vermont HOME Program, administered by The Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB), was the only winner recognized for capacity building among community-based, non-profit housing development organizations. VHCB provides annual operating grants, technical assistance and training to the network of affordable housing developers serving every county in the state. These organizations have created and preserved more than 10,000 affordable homes in Vermont since 1987. VHCB has administered nearly $60 million in HUD HOME Program funds for the state of Vermont since 1992.
VHCB’s Executive Director, Gus Seelig, said, “"It is truly an honor for Vermont to be recognized for all the ground work that has made our affordable housing delivery system a national model. Vermont’s system has benefited from federal funding since the inception of HUD’s HOME Program. The combination of HOME funds, state funding and private equity investments make it possible to serve very low-income households at a greater rate than the national average, bringing housing security to the most vulnerable Vermonters.”
The City of Burlington’s Community & Economic Development Office (CEDO) was selected as one of four winners in the category that recognized permanently affordable housing. CEDO partners with the Champlain Housing Trust to deploy HOME funds in the development of housing, and used a new building on King Street in the City as an example of the effectiveness of the partnership. The Champlain Housing Trust and Housing Vermont completed the LEED-certified building at 88 King Street in January, 2009, to serve as its headquarters and to provide twenty new apartments in downtown Burlington. Overall, CEDO has committed HOME funds to more than 1,200 affordable rentals in Burlington.
“I’m pleased that the City of Burlington has been able to partner with the Champlain Housing Trust to create perpetually affordable housing through the use of HOME funds,” said Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss. “Working together, this investment has helped us build a more sustainable and equitable community. It’s a 20-year partnership that has clearly paid off.”
The Housing Trust of Rutland County (HTRC) received an honorable mention for their development of 25 affordable apartments in previously deteriorated buildings on Cottage and Pine Streets. Using a combination of demolition, new construction and rehabilitation, HTRC transformed seven buildings, greatly improving downtown neighborhoods.
Elisabeth Kulas, Executive Director of the Housing Trust said, “We are excited that a small project in Rutland, Vermont received national recognition for its green design, community impact and commitment to permanent affordability. These small infill redevelopments can turn our struggling neighborhoods around. The Housing Trust’s permanent commitment to own well-managed affordable housing in Rutland’s hardest hit neighborhoods can be seen as another positive turning point for the City.”
More information is available on the HUD website.
Gus Seelig, Vermont Housing & Conservation Board 802-522-4079
Brian Pine, Burlington’s Community & Economic Development Office, 802 865-7232
Chris Donnelly, Champlain Housing Trust 802 861-7305
Elisabeth Kulas, Housing Trust of Rutland County 802-558-4826; 802 775 3139
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May 18, 2011
Contact: Ela Chapin 802-828-2117
Vermont Farmers to Benefit from $157,700 in Grants and Technical Assistance
Montpelier – The Vermont Farm Viability Program announced today the award of $95,000 in grants and $62,700 in technical assistance awards to Vermont farmers to assist them in implementing their farm business plans completed through the program. In this latest round of funding, 21 farmers around the state received grants ranging from $650 to $7,000. An additional 21 farmers received technical assistance awards ranging from $700 to $4,000 to cover the cost of consulting with specialists. Among the implementation grants presented:
Manchester Center - At Earth Sky Time Community Farm, Oliver and Bonnie Levis grow vegetables and orchard fruits and run a commercial kitchen to make value-added products such as breads, spreads, pickles, and a new product, the VT Goldburger, a veggie burger made with Vermont produce. Following completion of their business plan in 2009, Oliver and Bonnie applied for a Farm Viability Implementation Grant in November 2010 to upgrade their farmstand and to purchase veggie burger production equipment. They were awarded $7,000 towards a total project cost of $20,000.
After purchasing the equipment, Oliver said, “Though we have been making VT Goldburgers in our farm kitchen for several years, we had neither the equipment we needed to ramp up production or a clear understanding of what the veggie burgers cost us to make. The Farm Viability Program helped us get a handle on the finances of the project, and the grant funding for equipment purchase made our regional product launch a reality. We are thrilled that VT Goldburgers are now available in 15 natural food co-ops in Vermont, New York and Massachusetts. Thanks to this program we are utilizing thousands of pounds of organic VT grown produce and supporting our farm with year-round income.”
Hinesburg - Linsday Harris and Evan Reiss own The Family Cow Farmstand, a small grass-based dairy farm. They sell state-certified raw milk directly to customers from their farmstand and by delivery. Lindsay and Evan started Family Cow in 2008. They wrote a business plan through the Farm Viability Program in 2010. They applied for an Implementation Grant in November 2010 to renovate their milk room and improve the milk handling system. They were awarded $4,000 in February towards the $8,676 project, quickly set to work, and completed the project in April. The grant helped to fund a new sink, bulk tank, dishwasher, floor, and washable ceiling.
Lindsay said of the renovations, “We are really happy with how our project came out. It has already made our day-to-day farming operation a lot safer, easier and cleaner.”
Three of the farmers receiving technical assistance awards to work with specialists were:
- Ray Shatney and Janet Steward (Greenfield Highland Beef, Plainfield and Greensboro Bend) received an award to cover development of promotion materials for the farm and consultation on their watering system;
- Reynolds and Celia Hackett (Hackett’s Orchard, South Hero) will receive consulting on the intergenerational transfer of their orchard;
- An award to Jeremy Michaud (Clair-A-Den Farm, East Hardwick) will cover the costs of construction engineering for a new on-farm value-added processing facility, Kingdom Creamery of Vermont.
The Farm Viability Program accepts applications for business planning assistance quarterly. To request an application, call 802 828 3370 or see www.vhcb.org/viability.html. Farmers who complete business plans with the program are eligible to apply for implementation grants to help with capital expenses or additional technical support to launch new on-farm projects identified in the business planning process. The technical assistance awards pay for consultants to work one-on-one with farmers to further the goals of the business plan, such as meeting with crop or animal health specialists, planning for new farm enterprises, estate or farm transfer, or to develop ideas for value-added processing, for instance. There is a $75 fee to enroll in the Vermont Farm Viability Enhancement Program. Aside from this enrollment fee, business planning and technical assistance services are provided free of charge if your farm is chosen to participate.
The Farm Viability Enhancement Program is funded by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board in collaboration with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, with funding assistance provided by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), USDA Rural Development and private foundations, including the John Merck Fund. In addition to private consultants contracting with the program, consultants are provided by the University of Vermont, the Intervale Center, and NOFA-VT. More than 350 Vermont farmers have used the services of the Farm Viability Program since it was established in 2003.
April 26, 2011
HUD AWARDS $1.4 MILLION TO HIV-AIDS HOUSING PROGRAMS IN VERMONT
Funding supports stable housing for individuals and families at extreme risk for homelessness
BOSTON – Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced an award of $1,430,000 to the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, a HOPWA grantee of HIV-AIDS housing programs in Vermont. This supportive housing grant will offer critically needed housing and support services to extremely low-income persons living with HIV/AIDs. During each of the next three years, this HUD funding will help provide permanent supportive housing so they can manage their illnesses while receiving critically needed support services.
Gus Seelig, Executive Director of VHCB said, "This renewal funding will enable Vermont to continue providing integrated housing assistance and supportive services to households affected by HIV/AIDS. These funds are critical to improving the quality of life for individuals that might otherwise be at risk of homelessness. Working with the network of AIDS service organizations and partnering with the Vermont State Housing Authority, Vermont is pleased to continue these important programs."
The funding announced today is offered through HUD’s Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS Program (HOPWA) and will renew HUD’s support of these previously funded projects in Vermont.
“These grants are a vital source of support to the local programs that are on the ground working to keep families healthy,” said New England Regional Administrator Barbara G. Fields. “Knowing that you have a place to call home can make all the difference to the wellbeing of families living with HIV/AIDS, many of whom have been on the brink of homelessness.”
Housing assistance and related services funded by HOPWA are an essential part of the comprehensive system of care for low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS. A stable home environment is also vital for these households in allowing them to access consistent medical care and maintain their health.
Vermont's innovative program provides long-term rental assistance, short-term emergency housing assistance, and supportive services and case management through regional AIDS service organizations. The program integrates housing, health care, and a range of supportive services into a single statewide delivery system. This grant award will support 30 individuals annually with tenant-based rental assistance and 108 households with short-term rent, mortgage and utility assistance. Additionally, 251 individuals will receive supportive services annually. To deliver services through the HOPWA Program, VHCB partenrs with the Vermont Committee for AIDS Resources, Education and Services, AIDS Project of Southern Vermont, Vermont State Housing Authority, and HIV/HCV Resource Center.
Ninety percent of HOPWA funds are distributed by formula to cities and states based on the number of AIDS cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HUD’s formula grants are managed by 124 local and state jurisdictions, which coordinate AIDS housing efforts with other HUD and community resources. HUD is making available a record $334 million in HOPWA funds this year to help communities provide housing for this special needs population. Overall, these resources assist 60,669 households annually to promote stable housing and reduced risks of homelessness for those living with HIV and other challenges.
For more information contact:
Ms. Willa Davidian, Federal Housing Programs Manager
Phone: (802) 828-5061
March 30, 2011
Contact: Karen Freeman 828 5067
Vermont Housing & Conservation Board
CONSERVATION CONFERENCE BRINGS 150 TO RUTLAND ON APRIL 2
On Saturday, April 2, from 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., more than 150 town conservation commission members, nonprofit staff and board members, public officials, government agency staff, volunteers and citizens will take part in a statewide conservation conference at the College of St. Joseph in Rutland. Governor Peter Shumlin, Secretary Deb Markowitz of the Agency of Natural Resources, and Secretary Chuck Ross of the Agency of Agriculture will address the conference. Eighteen workshops led by more than 40 speakers will provide for discussion, information and resource sharing. Participating organizations will host displays at a resource fair. Birdwatching enthusiasts will take a mid-day field trip to the conserved West Rutland Marsh. A field trip to the Rutland Farmers Market will put a point on a workshop covering Vermont’s Farm to Plate initiative, a 10-year strategic plan to strengthen Vermont’s food system. Following the conference, a reception catered by Roots, a Rutland restaurant, will feature locally raised vegetables, meats and Vermont cheeses.
The conference, Conservation Connections: Building Partnerships for Action, is sponsored by the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board with support from the Land Trust Alliance, a national conservation organization. Planning partners include the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link, the Association of Vermont Conservation Commissions, the Vermont Land Trust, the Nature Conservancy, the Upper Valley Land Trust and the Vermont Association of Conservation Districts.
See the agenda and session descriptions at: http://www.vhcb.org/conservationconnections
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Monday, October 25, 2010
Local Organizations Receive $350,000 Grant from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to Demonstrate Connection Between Energy Efficiency and Housing Affordability
BURLINGTON – Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, in partnership with Vermont Housing & Conservation Board and Champlain Housing Trust, has received a $350,000 grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The two-year grant will be used to demonstrate how deep energy efficiency retrofits in single- and multi-family residences can make housing permanently and comprehensively affordable by reducing energy usage and costs.
In addition to establishing energy usage as a significant component of housing affordability, the project will also show how various sources of government funding might be harnessed to finance energy efficiency retrofits.
“This exciting partnership will help us to demonstrate how deep investment in energy efficiency can support housing affordability,” said Scott Johnstone, Executive Director of Vermont Energy Investment Corporation. “This is a win-win project that will provide a roadmap for achieving the twin goals of reducing energy usage and addressing the need for affordable housing in our community.”
The project will target at least five single-family residences for deep energy efficiency improvements. The goal of these improvements is to achieve energy savings of at least 50%, and potentially much higher. The homes, recently acquired following foreclosure, will then be sold to low-income households and be made permanently affordable through the Champlain Housing Trust’s programs.
Three multi-family buildings in West Rutland, Enosburg, and Windsor, financed in part by the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, will receive substantial energy efficiency improvements, again targeting energy savings of at least 50%.
“This is an exciting time in building energy science and this funding will help us determine what level of energy retrofit measures makes financial sense for permanently affordable rental housing. We are grateful for the opportunity presented by this generous award and will apply the findings to increase energy efficiency in Vermont’s portfolio of multi-family housing,” said Gus Seelig, Executive Director of the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board.
A comprehensive set of energy efficiency and renewable energy measures will enable the expected very high level of projected energy savings. These will include building shell improvements such as air sealing and insulation; heating system improvements such as advanced control biomass heating systems; electrical efficiency improvements such as super-efficient LED lighting; and renewable energy systems such as solar domestic hot water heating systems.
”We are thrilled to collaborate with these two partners to demonstrate how effective, targeted use of resources can create lasting assets for low-income households and our communities,” said Brenda Torpy, Chief Executive Officer of the Champlain Housing Trust.
This project was one of nine projects selected to receive funding through the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s national competition soliciting ideas for scalable approaches to spurring energy efficiency retrofits of existing buildings in the United States. Launched in April 2010, the selection process was highly competitive, with 372 pre-proposals submitted by organizations in 44 states. The process included review by a panel of experts in real estate, finance, construction, efficiency technologies and government policies. More information on the competition can be found at www.ddcf.org/retrofits.
The Vermont Energy Investment Corporation is a mission-driven nonprofit organization, founded in 1986, dedicated to reducing the economic, social, and environmental costs of energy consumption through cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. VEIC has consulted in 25 states, 6 Canadian Provinces and 7 countries outside North America to design programs that reduce energy use through energy efficiency and renewable energy. In addition, VEIC operates Efficiency Vermont – the nation's first statewide energy efficiency utility – as well as other implementation services across the country. For more information: www.veic.org
The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board is an independent, state funding agency providing grants, loans and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations, municipalities and state agencies for the development of permanently affordable housing and for the conservation of important agricultural land, recreational land, natural areas and historic properties in Vermont. www.vhcb.org
About Champlain Housing Trust
The Champlain Housing Trust, founded in 1984, is the largest community land trust in the country. Throughout Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties, CHT owns or manages over 1,500 apartments, stewards 485 owner-occupied homes in its signature shared-equity program, provides services to five housing cooperatives, and offers affordable energy efficiency and rehab loans. In 2008, CHT won the prestigious United Nations World Habitat Award, recognizing its innovative, sustainable programs.
About the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
Established in 1996, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation seeks to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and the prevention of child abuse, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties. The foundation’s Environment Program focuses on enabling communities to protect and manage wildlife habitat and create efficient built environments.
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Vermont River Conservancy Receives Award for Work on Connecticut River Paddlers' Trail in Guildhall
The Vermont River Conservancy has received the Vermont Trails and Greenways Council's Project of the Year Award for work on a public access for the Connecticut River Paddlers' Trail in the northern Vermont town of Guildhall.
The Vermont River Conservancy is a Montpelier-based non-profit created to help protect and provide public access to waters of Vermont. Information: www.vermontriverconservancy.org or call VRC at 802-229-0820
“This award recognizes an outstanding trail project that demonstrates creativity, cooperation, excellence and stewardship in providing and/or enhancing trail opportunities in Vermont,” said Jessica Ricketson of the Vermont Trails and Greenways Council.
The award cites the work of the Vermont River Conservancy with Guildhall area residents to improve the river access, part of the growing paddlers' trail that has been referred to as a river equivalent of Vermont's famed Long Trail. Project coordinator Noah Pollock, of Burlington, VT, accepted the award at the Trails and Greenways Council's 2010 Vermont Trail Symposium at the NorthWoods Stewardship Center in East Charleston in October.
“It is a real honor to receive this award,” said Pollock, noting that the project was a team effort.
He cited the work of the NorthWoods Conservation Corps, whose members did the work under his supervision, and the generous donation by Guildhall resident Alfred McVetty of lumber for the project, milled from McVetty's property about five miles away. He also noted that the project was funded in part by the Vermont Recreational Trails program and the Tillotson Foundation, which has provided funds to support the development of the Connecticut River Paddlers' Trail.
The trail is a collaborative effort by organizations ranging from the Upper Valley Land Trust to the Connecticut River Joint Commission to create a series of primitive campsites and access points from the Connecticut's headwaters to the Massachusetts border.
The Guildhall site, just below the bridge connecting Guildhall and Northumberland, NH, serves as a public access point to reach the river as well as a paddlers' take-out and a portage around the breached Wyoming Dam. The trail there had not been maintained for years, and erosion was causing environmental and safety problems. Pollock and his crew and volunteers regraded the trail and installed two sets of stairs and signs noting the access point and warning paddlers of the breached dam.
“I hope that continued efforts to develop the Connecticut River Paddlers’ Trail will foster nature-based recreation that leads to protection and stewardship and stimulates sustainable economic development,” said Pollock.
Information on the Connecticut River Paddlers' Trail, including a list of campsites, is at www.connecticutriverpaddlerstrail.org.
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GUS SEELIG Honored with ART GIBB AWARD
photo: Ashley Colloton
Gus Seelig, Executive Director of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB), is
Smart Growth Vermont’s 2010 recipient of the Arthur Gibb Award for Individual Leadership.
This award is given in honor of Arthur Gibb’s legacy of commitment to safeguarding Vermont’s
values and unique landscape. Each year, Smart Growth Vermont honors an individual whose
leadership, vision and courage has brought about positive and lasting change in the way their
community or our state integrates growth with conservation.
At a ceremony on Wednesday, September 15 at the T.W. Wood Gallery and Art Center in
Montpelier, 140 people applauded as Gus was presented with the award. Senators Sanders
and Leahy, and Representative Welch all
sent their greetings.
“It is both a great honor and truly humbling to be recognized in any manner with the imprint Art
Gibb left on Vermont,” said Gus. “In accepting this award, I have to say that the work of the
Vermont Housing & Conservation Board has only been possible because dozens of talented
Vermonters have served on the board, because we’ve had an extraordinarily dedicated and
creative staff, and most important, because our community partners, both grass roots groups and
organizations with professional staff, have identified important projects and been committed to
the vision of Vermont laid out in our statute of vibrant communities with historic character and a
working landscape where people can make a living.”
“Gus’ leadership in bringing together Vermont’s housing and conservation programs has become
the root of VHCB’s success,” said Noelle MacKay, Smart Growth Vermont Executive Director.
“This type of collaboration is at the heart of our work and of implementing smart growth
principles. Having the differing views of housing and conservation together helps craft creative,
unique solutions to land use issues facing Vermont.”
“You have embraced the principles of smart growth and mirrored the leadership traits of Art
Gibb,” wrote Congressman Peter Welch. “Your skill and perseverance in forging a consensus on
conservation and housing issues and your devotion to maintaining our sense of heritage and
history will benefit Vermont for generations to come.”
Senator Bernie Sanders’ greeting cited Gus’ successful implementation, “sometimes in the face of
significant opposition – of a unique-in-the-nation approach to creating affordable housing,
conserving agricultural and recreational lands and promoting historic preservation. The results
have been impressive. VHCB has supported tens of millions of dollars of public reinvestments in
towns, village centers and downtown neighborhoods, funded almost 10,000 units of
permanently affordable housing, and conserved over 370,000 acres of farmland, wildlife habitat
and recreational areas.”
“Under your leadership,” wrote Senator Patrick Leahy, “the Vermont Housing and Conservation
Board has led the discussion, implemented policy and carried out actions to make Vermont a
better place to live. Our farms, our downtowns, our cultural assets, our forests, our communities
and thousands of families owe you a long overdue thank you.”
In his remarks introducing Gus, Steven Kimbell said, “Gus epitomizes Art Gibb in so many
ways. His general demeanor, the way he deals with people, his willingness to listen. If you knew
Art Gibb at all, you can see the parallels with Gus’ personality and the kind of leadership Art
Gibb epitomized. We need more of the kind of the kind of quiet, collaborative leadership Gus
As founding executive director of the VHCB, Gus and his staff and board built a nationally
recognized model to address both affordable homes and conservation of open space. During his
tenure, he worked with Senator Leahy on the pilot project Farms for the Future which has
become the national Farm Protection Program. Vermont now has almost 500 conserved farms
and 50 historic buildings preserved for
Smart Growth Vermont is a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to forging growth and
conservation solutions for Vermont communities and working rural lands. We work both on-theground
in communities and at the state level to help develop and implement land use legislation
designed to foster growth that works to strengthen our downtowns and village centers while
conserving our working landscape and open areas. For more information, please visit Smart
Growth Vermont’s website at www.smartgrowthvermont.org.
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VHCB AmeriCorps Program Earns National Recognition
The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board AmeriCorps Program has been selected from a pool of nominations from across the country and chosen to be included in a collection of profiles to be published this summer, Transforming Communities through Service: A Collection of the Most Innovative AmeriCorps State Programs in the United States. The report is published by America’s Service Commissions (ACS) and Innovations in Civic Participation. The Program was selected based on exceptional performance, lasting impact on members and communities, among other criteria.
Joan Marie Misek, Director of the VHCB AmeriCorps Program and representatives from the Vermont Commission on National and Community Service attended the annual meeting of ACS in New York City on Sunday, June 27, where the publication was unveiled. The Vermont Youth Development Corps will also be profiled in the report.
"It is a great honor for our program to be chosen," said Joan Marie, "Our members are making a difference in communities across the state. The combination of housing and conservation goals is unusual in one program and now in its 12th year, VHCB AmeriCorps has placed more than 350 AmeriCorps members in service, while also recruiting hundreds of volunteers to magnify the impact of our members' efforts. After graduating from our program, many of our members continue on to contribute to the well being of Vermont by entering its public sector workforce as skilled, engaged and well-informed individuals."
The Vermont Housing & Conservation Board places AmeriCorps members to serve one-year terms with 28 nonprofit housing and conservation organizations around the state. Members provide financial literacy education and foreclosure prevention support, assist homeless individuals and families, provide activities for children and families, implement energy efficiency and weatherization outreach, make repairs on low-income homes, provide environmental education, maintain trails and mobilize volunteers.
The Vermont Housing & Conservation Board and participating nonprofits will be recruiting 33 new members for the 2010-2011 term of service which begins in September. More information is available at www.vhcb.org/acorps or by calling 828-3253.
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Vermont Farm Viability Program Awards $65,000 to Five Ag-related Businesses
Montpelier – The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board announced grant awards by the Vermont Farm Viability Program to five meat, poultry and grain processing businesses totaling $65,000. Secretary of Agriculture Roger Allbee said, “With producers all over Vermont raising more grain, poultry and meat in response to the increasing demand for local foods, processing facilities are stretched to the limit. These grants will enable businesses in Westfield, Sharon, Bridport, West Glover and Morrisville to purchase equipment, expand facilities and increase capacity, enhancing the processing infrastructure of Vermont’s food system.”
Vermont Rabbitry in West Glover has marketed high quality fresh rabbit meat throughout Vermont and New England since 1987. In 1992, Brown’s Custom Meats was established, adding services including butchering and packaging of beef, pork, veal, lamb and goat. With a $15,500 grant matched with his own investment and a bank loan, operator Phil Brown anticipates doubling his capacity to process rabbits and significantly increasing his capacity to process other locally raised meats. Equipment will be upgraded, allowing him to offer vacuum packaging of custom meat and a wider variety of products including rabbit sausages and ground rabbit to be sold in meat cases across the state.
In Bridport, Gleason Grains is an organic milling facility on a small farm operated operated by Ben and Theresa Gleason. The largest operation of its kind in Vermont, the mill facility was built in 1988. The Gleasons raise soybeans, black beans, seed clover, hay and wheat on 100 acres of land. They process the wheat to provide whole wheat flour, pastry flour and wheat berries to customers including bakeries, food co-ops, health food stores, an internet business, a brewery, CSAs, schools and restaurants. In 2010, the Gleasons expect to double the amount of wheat they are processing through a collaboration with three Addison County farmers. In order to process the increased yield, Gleason Grains will use a $15,500 grant from the Farm Viability program to expand and upgrade the current mill facility, storage and drying facilities.
Butterworks Farm in Westfield is a farm and milk processing business, producing bottled heavy cream and yogurt and raising corn, soybeans, sunflowers, barley, oats, wheat and peas on 200 acres of owned and leased land. A $14,000 Farm Viability grant will be matched by Anne and Jack Lazor to purchase equipment for hulling whole oats and spelt grain and producing rolled oats and spelt flour to be sold through Vermont Food Coops. Butterworks Farm will offer grain processing services to area farmers to encourage more farmers to raise grains in order to meet a growing demand for locally grown foods.
Darryl and Brenda Potter will purchase a cryovac wrapping machine for vacuum packaging at their slaughterhouse, Sharon Beef, where they process beef, lamb, pork and bison for farmers and producers in the agricultural communities of Vermont and New Hampshire. A $15,500 grant, matched with a construction loan and in-kind labor will allow the Potters to make structural and lighting improvements to their facility and install the new machinery. Offering cryovac packaging will increase processing business for commercial customers that are looking for a professional presentation of meat for retail sales. The Potters plan to maintain their current slaughter capacity but to increase the number of customers using their processing services who currently take their meat elsewhere for packaging.
In Morrisville, Spring Hill Poultry Processing began operating in the summer of 2009, leasing a mobile processing unit outfitted by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture in response to the scarcity of poultry processing facilities. Operator George Eisenhardt will make improvements to the mobile facility to accommodate a doubling of demand for his services. With a $4,500 grant he will add refrigeration capacity, improving services and reducing costs of the mobile poultry processing.
The Ag-Related Business Implementation awards are funded by private foundations including the John Merck Fund. The Vermont Farm Viability Program offers business planning and technical support to Vermont farmers, supporting and enhancing the viability of agriculture in Vermont. Farmers and ag-related businesses that complete business plans with the program are eligible to apply for implementation grants. The Farm Viability Program is operated by the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, in collaboration with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets. For more information, please contact Director Ela Chapin at 828-2117 or see www.vhcb.org/viability.html
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April 22, 2010
National Report Shows Vermont
Rental Housing Grows Further "Out of Reach"
Vermont’s high cost of housing highlighted in new housing affordability report
BURLINGTON – Vermonters who rent live in the 15th least affordable state in the nation, according to a new report jointly released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a Washington, DC-based housing advocacy group, and the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition.
For Vermont’s renters, the news isn’t good. Rural Vermont ranks in the top 10 most expensive rural areas in the nation. Vermont’s "Housing Wage" has risen to $17.70 per hour, or $36,812 per year. This represents an increase of 54% since 2000. The national Housing Wage is $18.44 in 2010.
The report, Out of Reach 2010, provides the Housing Wage and other housing affordability data for every state, metropolitan area and county in the country, comparing 52 jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. A Vermont fact sheet is attached. The full report is available online at www.nlihc.org/oor2010/.
The Housing Wage is the hourly wage a family must earn–working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year–to be able to afford rent and utilities for a modest two-bedroom apartment in the private housing market at the average Fair Market Rent (FMR). “Affordable” housing is generally defined as costing no more than 30% of a household’s annual income. This year’s FMR for a two-bedroom apartment in Vermont is $920 statewide. It is $821 in all non-metro areas combined, and $1,116 in the Burlington-South Burlington Metro Area, which includes Chittenden, Franklin, and Grand-Isle counties. In the Metro area, the Housing Wage has risen above $20 an hour for the first time ever and now stands at $21.46.
Even during a time of economic downturn, when rents could normally be expected to decline, decent affordable housing has remained out of reach for many Vermonters. The inability to afford housing has pushed many new families and individuals into homelessness. This year’s Point in Time Count, conducted on January 27, counted approximately 2,800 homeless Vermonters statewide. This number reflects a sharp rise in homelessness in recent years – a 25 percent increase since 2008. The Point in Time Count is a 24-hour count of the homeless coordinated by the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness and the Chittenden County Homeless Alliance and conducted by service providers throughout the state.
“With rents continuing to climb further out of reach, homeless shelters have become the housing of last resort for Vermont’s working poor and people living on fixed incomes,” said Melinda Bussino, Director of the Brattleboro Area Drop-In Center and Co-Chair of the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness. “This report underscores the need for the State to provide sufficient funding for affordable housing, homelessness prevention and other safety net programs.”
Vermont’s rental housing market has been among the Nation’s tightest for several years. Low-vacancy rates help push rents upward. That, combined with the fact that many Vermonters work in relatively low-wage jobs, creates enormous pressures for thousands of households in the Green Mountain State struggling to pay for necessities.
The situation for Vermonters with disabilities living on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is absolutely dire: with a monthly payment of only $726, they can afford no more than $218 for their housing costs—severely short of the $751 FMR for a one-bedroom apartment, or even the $655 FMR for a studio apartment.
The typical renter in Vermont earns $11.28, which is $6.42 less than the hourly wage needed to afford a modest unit. A worker making the minimum wage ($8.06/hour in Vermont) can only afford to pay $419 a month for rent and utilities, less than half the cost of a modest two-bedroom apartment. Working at the minimum wage, a family must have 2.2 wage earners working full-time–or one full-time earner working 88 hours per week–to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment.
An estimated 55% of renters in Vermont do not earn enough income to afford a two-bedroom apartment at the Fair Market Rent, a two percentage point increase from last year.
“I work on a daily basis with programs that provide advocacy and services for low- and moderate-income people. I am not surprised to hear that safe, affordable housing is even more out of reach today than it was a year ago for many in our state,” says Ted Wimpey, Director of Statewide Housing Services at the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity and Chairperson of the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition. “Funding, planning, permitting and development of new and rehabilitated affordable housing, as well as availability of housing subsidies, are simply not keeping up with needs which have only increased with the economic downturn.”
Vermont fact sheet
For more information contact:
Marissa Fischer, (802) 660-9484
Erhard Mahnke, (802) 233-2902
The Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition is Vermont’s only statewide membership organization dedicated to ensuring that all Vermonters have decent, safe and affordable housing, particularly the state’s low and moderate-income residents, elders, and people with disabilities.
The Coalition’s 70 plus members represent most of Vermont’s non-profit affordable housing developers, community land trusts, housing and homeless advocacy groups, public housing authorities, regional planners, funders, state agencies, and other organizations and individuals with an interest in affordable housing. Together, VAHC’s members provide housing and services to tens of thousands of Vermonters.
For information on the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, visit www.vtaffordablehousing.org.
For Immediate Release
March 31, 2010
Contact: Pam Boyd, VHCB 828-5075
State Energy Program Uses Federal Recovery Funds to Increase Energy Efficiency in Affordable Housing
Montpelier- Statewide operators of affordable housing developments will be looking at lower energy costs this year, thanks to a variety of building energy upgrades designed to reduce overall building energy demand and enhance building systems operations and efficiency. Targeted improvements include building shell upgrades, improvements in mechanical systems and renewable energy installations such as solar pre-heating of domestic hot water. It is anticipated that average building energy savings will exceed 25% with many buildings experiencing savings above 40%.
Gus Seelig, Executive Director of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB), said “These energy improvements are being provided in part with $2 million in funding we are administering from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act State Energy Program (ARRA-SEP) through the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund. In 2010 more than 36 developments across Vermont with 70 buildings and 500 units of housing will benefit from energy retrofits, thanks to these federal funds.”
VHCB has facilitated a strategy to maximize the benefit of the funding by partnering with the Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA), Vermont’s Low Income Weatherization Program, Efficiency Vermont, and Housing Vermont. The project will also use Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) funding from the sale of carbon credits, which is administered by a statewide coalition of weatherization agencies. Buildings have been targeted for this program based on an assessment of energy needs by VHFA and VHCB and the ability of the development to satisfy the near term implementation requirements of ARRA-SEP funding.
Complementing and concurrent with these energy improvement measures is a research effort launched by VHCB and VHFA and funded by a grant from the MacArthur Foundation to explore optimal whole building, science-based implementation strategies to position the statewide affordable housing portfolio for the 21st century energy environment. Two major studies are under way in support of this effort: a “roadmap” to energy efficiency focused on retrofit strategies based on various assumptions about the future price of oil and “optimal mechanical systems” research that will explore issues related to mechanical system design and performance in multi-family buildings.
Vermont’s network of nonprofit affordable housing providers began to embrace the use of renewable energy and deep retrofits several years ago, but these efforts intensified after the spike in the price of fuel oil in 2008. Senator Bernie Sanders recently secured a U.S. Department of Energy grant to install solar water heaters at Salmon Run Apartments in Burlington and at three large housing complexes with more than 1,000 residents at Highgate (Barre), Westgate (Brattleboro) and Applegate (Bennington) Apartments.
In Brattleboro, the Windham Housing Trust saw energy bills reduced significantly this year following installation of solar panels on the roof of the Daly Shoe Building, a former commercial warehouse that was converted in 2007 to create 29 affordable apartments.
In Waterbury, the historic Stimson Graves block on Stowe Street, with senior housing on the second story, a senior day center and various retail spaces on the street level, will undergo an energy retrofit in 2010. The combined funding sources (ARRA-SEP, RGGI and Weatherization) will allow the non-profit property owner and manager, the Central Vermont Community Land Trust, working together with Housing Vermont, to provide elderly residents with comfortable, energy efficient apartments while keeping rent levels stable and affordable and saving thousands on heating costs, said Eileen Peltier, Exectuive Director of the organization.
“These apartments were developed in 1993 after the building had stood vacant for many years. Today, 17 years later, we will be bringing the latest thinking on energy resources to tighten the building envelope, use renewable energy from the sun to preheat the water, and consequently save hundreds of gallons of heating oil in the next heating season. These improvements will help secure a sustainable operating budget in these difficult economic times.”
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March 1, 2010
Contact: Ela Chapin, Program Director 828 2117
Farm Viability Program Announces $203,365 in Grants and Technical Assistance
Montpelier – The Farm Viability Enhancement Program, a program of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board in collaboration with the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, announces business plan implementation grants to farmers totaling $119,200 and technical assistance awards totaling $84,165. Business Plan Implementation Grants are made for capital projects—for construction costs or equipment, for example, while technical assistance awards provide professional services to advise farmers on topics as varied as website and marketing consulting, facilities design, enterprise analysis, composting, irrigation, cropping, or grain production.
The range of activities funded represent the variety of farm enterprises in Vermont today, from traditional dairy farms, to farmers raising beef, goats, or sheep, to farmers growing grain, vegetables, berries and flowers, to those making all manner of value-added products including cheese, maple syrup, pickles, soups and sauces.
Gus Seelig, Executive Director of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board said, “We are very pleased to be able to provide 46 farmers with grants and awards ranging from $500 to $8,000. These funds and services will give farmers a leg up on creative initiatives to increase profitability and establish new ventures. This is an exciting time in Vermont agriculture and the Viability Program implementation grants and services enable farmers to make infrastructure improvements and act on innovative ideas developed in the business planning process.”
Among the awards announced:
Judith Irving, Calley Hastings and Steve Reid operate Fat Toad Farm, a goat dairy in Brookfield. A technical assistance award of $5,000 will pay for a consultant to advise the farmers regarding manufacturing equipment and processes with a goal of increasing production and quality control. A $4,000 grant will allow them to implement production improvements and increase quality control.
Joe Buley grows vegetables on Screamin’ Ridge Farm in East Montpelier. A technical assistance award of $5,000 will pay business planning and grant writing services, legal assistance and an accountant as Joe develops a new enterprise and markets a line of soups and sauces; with a $4,000 grant he will purchase a used tractor.
In North Ferrisburgh, Cheryl and Jon DeVos operate one of the largest organic dairies in the state. They will use $3,000 in business planning and legal services to help them establish a creamery, adding value to their milk. An $8,000 grant will enable them to construct an on-farm retail store.
Paul and Mark Boivin, on a dairy farm in Addison
, will use a $6,000 grant to purchase a guidance system for strip tillage equipment. They are experimenting with the use of this equipment which has the potential to substantially reduce the costs of growing crops in Vermont and reducing environmental impacts due to tilling the soil.
, Paul De la Bruere will restore his dairy barn and implement a specialized grazing system on his organic dairy with a $2,000 grant.
Gert & Auda Schut make a yogurt drink on Millborne Farm in Whiting
and plan to improve their processing systems with a $6,000 grant.
Neil and Kristin Urie will expand their farm in Craftsbury Common
, constructing a new barn and planning for a creamery with a $6,000 grant. A $5,000 technical assistance award will be used for feasibility analysis and facilities design.
On Stony Pond Farm in Irasburg
, Tyler Webb will build a walk-in freezer, food preparation and storage area with a $3,500 grant.
Funding for the grants and awards is provided by the John Merck Fund and other private foundations, the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, USDA Rural Development and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Program services are provided by UVM Extension, the Intervale Center, NOFA-Vermont and independent consultants.
To read more about the Farm Viability Program, see the website, www.vhcb.org/viability or call 828-2117. Program services are free to farmers after a $75 enrollment fee. Farmers must complete a business plan with the Farm Viability Program to be eligible to apply for Implementation Grants and Technical Assistance Awards, which are awarded in annual cycles.
The next round of awards to be made by the Farm Viability Program will be for slaughter houses, meat, poultry and grain processing facilities. Applications were due in February and awards will be announced in May.
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November 18, 2009
South Burlington Land Trust Gives $7,500 to Support Purchase of Leduc Farm
In 2003, a small group of local community members formed the South Burlington Land Trust (SBLT) out of growing concern about the loss of the City's natural areas and agricultural heritage due to rapidly increasing suburban development. This week, SBLT made their first financial contribution to a local conservation project by committing $7,500 to the Vermont Land Trust’s effort to protect of the Leduc Farm.
“When we founded the South Burlington Land Trust six years ago we made a decision that we don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” said Sarah Dopp, chair of the SBLT Board. “There isn’t a ton of land left to conserve, and we believe in partnering with those already in the conservation business that have the ability to do the important stewardship that land conservation requires. Now we are putting our money where our mouth is and helping the Vermont Land Trust with a fantastic conservation effort.”
Adam Wilson and Corie Pierce, co-owners and operators of Bread and Butter Farm, are bringing their agricultural enterprise to South Burlington this fall. Adam is moving his specialty dairy and bakery—the Essex Creamery and Adam’s Village Bakery—from Essex Junction to the Leduc Farm, where he will join his business with the promising winter greens and summer vegetable operation to be headed by Corie. Together, they will produce fresh milk, grass-fed beef, pastured pork, vegetables, and traditional German breads
Bread and Butter Farm has purchased the 143-acre Leduc Farm from the Vermont Land Trust for $225,000. A conservation easement was placed on the land at the time of sale to help ensure that it will permanently remain productive farmland. The purchase price—far below market value—was made possible with the support of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the City of South Burlington, and the Town of Shelburne, which supported the conservation effort with allocations of $470,500, $500,000 and $250,000, respectively.
The Vermont Land Trust has been working to raise an additional $25,000 this fall. With the $7,500 commitment from the South Burlington Land Trust there is just $7,500 more to be raised to complete this conservation effort. SBLT hopes to meet this goal in part by asking their members to match $2,500 of their commitment.
“We are urging the local community to join the South Burlington Land Trust and make a donation to the Vermont Land Trust by the end of the year,” said Dopp.
Adam and Corie were selected as the new owners of the Leduc Farm after submitting an extensive proposal and business plan to a competitive process conducted by the Vermont Land Trust as part of their Farmland Access Program. This conservation program helps diversified, experienced farmers gain access to productive, affordable farmland. Bread and Butter Farm’s varied, synergistic operations are well matched for the Leduc Farm’s soils, infrastructure, and location.
“Providing enterprising farmers such as Adam and Corie with access to high quality and affordable farmland is critical to agriculture’s future,” said Gil Livingston, President of the Vermont Land Trust. “And because our farming future is dependent on public support, it is also important to connect community members with farmland and farmers. This project presents South Burlington and Shelburne with a marvelous opportunity to have a local, exciting agricultural initiative close to town.”
For many years, Maurice Leduc operated the farm with help from his brother, Norman. Maurice sold his herd in September of 2004 as he approached retirement age. “We are glad that the farm will be conserved with the Vermont Land Trust and will continue to be farmed.” said Jeanne Leduc.
“The towns of South Burlington, Shelburne, the Leducs, and the Vermont Land Trust have come together to protect this farm,” said Corie Pierce. “They have offered us this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a farm that grows both food and community. We are honored to be chosen.”
Secretary of Agriculture Roger Albee, who serves on the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, said, “Conservation of this property is a win-win for the farmers and for South Burlington and Shelburne residents. Bread and Butter Farm will market a wide variety of products and the land will remain in agriculture, with a trail for the public to enjoy. The farm abuts two other conserved farms and the Shelburne Pond Natural Area, creating a small block of protected land in the heart of an area with intense development pressure.”
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For Immediate Release
November 2, 2009
VHCB Recognized in Earning Vermont 5th Place in Worldwide Stewardship Ranking
MONTPELIER, Vt. — Vermont is ranked 5th in the world for "destination stewardship" by the National Geographic Society. Vermont's scenic countryside, lively small towns, historic streetscapes and local businesses helped account for the state's high ranking as a travel destination and led to high marks for "environmental- and social-sustainability practices."
"Vermont, more than any other American state, has worked to preserve those qualities and characteristics that make it unique," commented one panelist. "It is one of only four U.S. states that completely prohibit outdoor advertising (i.e. billboards). It has a very effective statewide land trust and the state-funded Affordable Housing and Land Conservation Trust that rehabilitates historic buildings, like old mills, for low-income housing, and purchases conservation easements on farmland and forests. It has limited the spread of big-box retailing and works to retain locally owned retail, such as village stores. If you want to see New England as you imagine it, go to Vermont."
The sixth annual “Survey of Destination Stewardship,” conducted by National Geographic Society’s Center for Sustainable Destinations, is published in the November/December issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine. In ranking destinations, 437 global panelists considered six criteria including environmental and ecological quality, social and cultural integrity, condition of historic buildings and archaeological sites, aesthetic appeal, quality of tourism management and outlook for the future.
“Vermont is ahead of the curve and well positioned for managing tourism growth responsibly,” said Vermont Governor Jim Douglas. “We have protected thousands of acres of our state’s land through conservation efforts and helped revitalize our historic downtowns.”
Vermont Tourism and Marketing Commissioner Bruce Hyde said, “Vermont has worked tremendously hard to preserve its natural resources and scenic beauty.”
Since 1987, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board has worked with Vermont municipalities and non-profit organizations to conserve more than 376,500 acres of farmland, natural areas and recreational lands and to develop more than 9,700 affordable homes, most of which are located in historic buildings in Vermont's town and village centers.
For more information, visit http://traveler.nationalgeographic.com
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Vermont River Conservancy, Landowner Offer New
Connecticut River Campsite in Northern Vermont
|Landowner Sam Ward, Vermont River Conservancy Staff and Volunteers created a public campsite on the Connecticut River six miles south of Guildhall.
A generous landowner and the Vermont River Conservancy have combined to create a new paddlers’ campsite on a beautiful stretch of the Connecticut River in northern Vermont. The site is just south of Guildhall in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom and was made possible through the generosity of Sam and Anne Ward.
Sam Ward is a professor at the University of Arizona in the dry Southwest and loves being able to spend summers along the cool and clear-flowing Connecticut in northern Vermont, so he decided to make part of his land along the river available to paddlers.
“I feel so privileged to be able to be on a river like the Connecticut that I’ve been trying to help in any way I can to make the river accessible,” he said.
Ward contacted the Vermont River Conservancy in Montpelier, and —together with Noah Pollock, a consultant who works with VRC — they selected a site on the Ward’s land. Ward and Pollock then collected wood donated by the Garland lumber mill in Lancaster, NH. Working in Sam Ward’s shop, they and a crew of volunteers built a set of river-bank stairs, a picnic table, paddlers’ register, signs and a box privy. On a weekend in late August, the group floated their work upstream to the site and installed it, creating a welcome, clearly marked and clean stop for paddlers that encourages environmental etiquette.
The new site six miles south of Guildhall fits into the Vermont River Conservancy’s goal or making Vermont’s rivers accessible to more people. It also fits into the concept of an Upper Connecticut River Paddlers’ Trail that would create a series of paddlers’ campsites from the start of the river in northern New Hampshire to Vernon, VT. The project was a collaborative effort with the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, which provided technical assistance with the campsite design, a boat to help shuttle materials and volunteer support.
“We appreciate Sam and Anne’s generosity in allowing us to build this site, said VRC Executive Director Steve Libby. “They realize that having sites spaced every 10 miles or so will make the Connecticut River much more usable by recreationists, and will benefit the local businesses that can provide services to the increased number of people on the river.”
The site is the fourth VRC project on the Upper Connecticut River, and the group hopes to add several more over the next few years
The Vermont River Conservancy is a nonprofit organization based in Montpelier that works to preserve and protect important land along Vermont waters such as waterfalls, gorges, swimming holes, wetlands, river and lake shores and islands. It has preserved water access at 26 sites around the state. For more information contact the VRC at (802) 229-0820 or visit www.vermontriverconservancy.org.
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April 29, 2009
Vermont Farm Viability Program Awards $40,000 to Meat Processing Facilities
Montpelier -- The Vermont Farm Viability Program announced today $40,000 in grant awards to meat processing facilities in Troy, Randolph, Barre and Enosburg. The grants are the first round of a new funding opportunity for “agriculture-related businesses,” established to develop and invest in agricultural infrastructure and to improve the viability of agriculture-related businesses. Two subsequent rounds of grant funding will be announced later this year and in 2010. Eleven processors with combined requests of $183,600 applied for $40,000 of available funding. The grant funds are supplied by a private foundation.
Four operators ranging from small custom processors to larger commercial processors will use grant funding to expand facilities and increase efficiency, resulting in greater availability of meat processing services for farmers and others raising livestock. The grant recipients are: Brault’s Market in Troy, The Royal Butcher in Randolph, Vermont Smoke and Cure in South Barre, and the Enosburg Meat Market. Three of the four offer retail sales on site.
“The importance of these funds to meat processing facilities in the state cannot be underestimated. We have seen a tremendous increase in demand in people looking to buy local. I call it a renaissance of the past—knowing where and how your food is grown is again becoming an important aspect to consumers when buying food,” said Secretary of Agriculture Roger Allbee. “These grants will give meat processors in Vermont the ability to expand and improve their facilities to help meet the increased demand for Vermont products. With improved processing facilities, farmers have the potential to increase what they produce and it opens new market options to them.”
Brault’s Market, providing custom and commercial meat processing and a retail market in Troy, will construct an addition, increasing their processing area and retail space. The Royal Butcher, a meat processor, butcher shop, retail store and bottle redemption center in Randolph, will expand and improve their processing area. Vermont Smoke and Cure, a smokehouse and processing facility in South Barre distributing ham, bacon and sausage throughout New England and beyond, will purchase processing equipment to increase their production capacity. The Enosburg Meat Market, a retail meat market and custom cutting shop, will construct an addition, adding processing and cooler space while creating separate processing areas for game and farm animals.
The Vermont Farm Viability Program was established in 2003 by the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board in partnership with the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets. The program uses business advisers from the University of Vermont Extension, the Intervale Center, NOFA-VT and independent consultants to provide business planning services to participating farmers. The business advisors work with farmers to focus on specific business goals such as improving production or financial records, performing financial benchmark analysis, evaluating new farm enterprises and value-added processing ventures, developing estate and farm transfer plans, and increasing profitability. On-farm consultations result in the preparation of a written business plan.
Upcoming Implementation Grant rounds are announced to farmers that have completed business plans with the Viability Program and to agriculture-related businesses. Farmers and ag-related businesses can find out more and apply by visiting www.vhcb.org/viability.html or by calling Program Director Ela Chapin at 828-2117.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 8, 2009
Contact: Gus Seelig, VHCB Executive Director: 828 3251
Energy Efficiency Funds to Assist Affordable Housing Developments
Montpelier - The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, a funder of affordable housing development statewide, announced today that they will provide $355,400 for energy improvements to 17 organizations around the state. The investments will increase energy efficiency and reduce operating costs in 175 apartment buildings owned by non-profit housing developers. Small grants, ranging from $1,000-$50,000, will assist with the costs of installing solar hot water systems, improving heating system control technology, and installing programmable thermostats in the inventory of affordable housing owned by non-profit developers.
These developers manage more than 9,400 affordable homes across the state. They are committed to providing quality housing at rent levels affordable to low and moderate income Vermonters. The unpredictable costs of heating oil and propane pose a challenge to affordable housing developers because heating costs are generally included in the rent and the affordability restrictions that accompany state and federal funding sources limit the developers’ ability to raise rents.
Christine Hart, VHCB Chair and Director of the Brattleboro Housing Authority said, “Reducing operating costs is critical in the business of affordable housing and these energy investments will provide immediate savings and pay for themselves in the not-too-distant future. Upgrades to be funded with these grants have an estimated payback period between six months to five years and the estimated savings from the improve-ments range from 5-30% in annual fuel usage. These are impressive numbers that will really help housing managers keep a handle on fuel use and heating costs.”
The new grants will assist affordable housing developers to add to energy conservation work already in place in response to last summer’s spike in fuel prices. Developments in Bennington and Brattleboro are sporting new solar hot water systems, while West River Valley Senior Housing in Townsend uses wood pellets to fuel the furnace and heat hot water.
In Brattleboro, the Windham Housing Trust (WHT) has turned to the sun for assistance in maintaining the affordability of its rental apartments, installing its first set of solar panels last fall on the Daly Shoe Building on Birge Street. Funding for the solar energy project came from the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation’s Solar and Small Wind Incentive Program. Solar hot water systems present a promising opportunity for nonprofit developers to improve the energy performance of their housing portfolios.
Daly Shoe’s new solar hot water system acts as a pre-heater for the existing indirect water heaters, which are heated by the building’s oil-fired boilers, and provides an estimated 70% of the hot water needs for the building. WHT expects water heating bills to drop 50%–80% by going solar. And because the sun’s energy is free, WHT will be protected, in part, from fuel shortages and price hikes in the future. In turn, this will help WHT to keep its rents affordable and its tenants comfortable.
The VHCB Energy Fund grants are among one of several energy initiatives under development by the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board:
- In February, VHCB announced a $600,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The funds will be used to develop comprehensive energy audit guidelines for multi-family rental housing developments, to assist with the costs of the audits, and to train property managers in efficiency measures.
- Jessica Garrett is serving as Energy Conservation Coordinator, a new AmeriCorps position at VHCB. Jessica is establishing a database of alternative heating technologies, working with non-profit housing developers and their residents on strategies to decrease fuel usage, and undertaking a variety of educational efforts.
- VHCB plans to work as a partner/subcontractor with Central Vermont Community Action Council which is administering funds from the sale of carbon credits from the Regional Green House Gas Initiative (RGGI). The funds will be used for energy-related improvements to both single family and multi-family housing.
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For Immediate Release: March 13, 2009
Contact: Gus Seelig, 802 828 3251
Farmers Participating in Business Planning
Implementation Program Increase Profits, Add Jobs
A telephone survey of farmers participating in the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board’s Farm Viability Program showed that program investments are helping farmers to increase profitability and create and sustain jobs on farms by conserving energy, expanding and diversifying operations, and increasing production efficiency.
The survey, conducted in February 2009 by the Vermont Small Business Development Center, analyzed the impact of professional services provided over the past two years to help farmers implement goals identified in the business planning process. Thirty-four out of 44 participating farm businesses were reached for the survey.
Gus Seelig, Executive Director of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, said, “We are thrilled that farmers are able to convert small grants and targeted technical assistance to increase their profits and affect the bottom line. In today’s economy, the services provided by the Viability Program are not just keeping farms in business, but adding jobs in the ag sector.”
The survey found:
- One hundred percent of farmers surveyed said the business plan implementation assistance had a positive impact on their farm business.
- Twenty-nine farmers (85% of those surveyed) said the business plan implementation assistance helped to increase the profitability of their farm businesses.
- Twelve farmers out of 34 respondents saw an increase in jobs on their farm between summer 2006 (prior to assistance) and the time of the survey (post assistance). The farmers attributed this increase (an average of 1.4 full-time jobs per farm) at least in part to the implementation assistance provided.
- The total number of jobs combined on the 34 farms increased from 96.5 in summer 2006 to 112.8 in early 2009.
Steve Paddock, Business Advisor at the Vermont Small Business Development Center, who conducted the study, said, “The survey results reaffirm the tremendous success of the Vermont Farm Viability Enhancement Program. People’s lives are being improved as they make real changes to their farm businesses with the assistance of the farm business planners provided by the program. This program enriches lives and builds the economic future of the Vermont farmers who participate.”
Funding for the grants, which ranged from $2,000–$6,000, was provided by a Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) from USDA Rural Development. In 2007 and 2008 the Viability Program assisted more than 40 farms with implementation grants for non-capital projects ranging from completing farm business transfer or retirement plans to designing new barns or on-farm processing facilities, creating marketing plans for new, value-added products, designing websites, developing federal grant applications, evaluating energy conservation opportunities and updating business plans and financial statements.
Developed in 2003 in collaboration with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, the Farm Viability Program uses business advisers to provide technical assistance to fulfill specific business goals such as assisting farmers to keep better production or financial records, perform financial benchmark analysis, analyze new farm enterprises and value-added processing ventures, conduct estate and farm transfer planning, and assist with labor management. The business planning process involves the farmer in an assessment of the farm operation’s strengths and weaknesses and in an exploration of possible management changes that could increase profitability. On-farm consultations result in the preparation of a written business plan. Farmers who have completed business plans with the Viability Program are eligible to apply for implementation grants.
Groups contracting with the Viability Program (the University of Vermont Extension Service, the Intervale Center, NOFA-VT and independent consultants) provide business planning services free of charge to participating farmers. To read more about the program or to apply, visit www.vhcb.org/viability.html or call Program Director Ela Chapin at 828-2117.
For Immediate Release: February 26, 2009
Contact: Gus Seelig, VHCB 802 828 3251
John Fairbanks, VHFA 802 652 3424
MacArthur Foundation Awards $2.6 Million to
Vermont Housing Initiatives
for Energy Efficiency and Rental Preservation
Montpelier – Thousand of Vermonters who live in affordable rental housing will be able to keep that housing, thanks to a $2.6 million investment by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Vermont’s longstanding commitment to the preservation of rental housing was recognized by the investment of grants and loans by the foundation, which will be used in conjunction with other private and public investment to preserve thousands of apartments over the next decade.
The demand for affordable rental housing in Vermont already greatly exceeds the supply, which results in Vermont having one of the lowest rental vacancy rates in the nation and makes Vermont the 4th most expensive state in the country for renters. Nearly 72,000 Vermont households are renters.
The MacArthur Foundation investment, announced today, is made up of a $600,000 grant to the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) and a $2 million loan to Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA). VHCB and VHFA will use the funding to increase energy efficiency, provide technical assistance, finance predevelopment and bridge loans, and establish a demonstration project using Medicare and Medicaid for supportive services for senior housing.
“Vermont’s creative efforts, including support services for the elderly living in subsidized rental housing and energy retrofitting of assisted properties will not only preserve affordable rental units, but also strengthen local communities and economies,” said MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton.
“This investment by the MacArthur Foundation brings an innovative new funding source for affordable housing preservation to address the issue of expiring rental subsidies while also improving energy efficiency and increasing technical assistance. It will help us focus on preserving our historic downtowns and village centers,” said VHCB Executive Director Gus Seelig.
“The MacArthur Foundation’s award is both a recognition of the creativity and effectiveness of Vermont’s affordable housing network and a prudent investment in a critical need here in Vermont,” said VHFA Executive Director Sarah Carpenter. “This will help us promote long-term affordability, in part by reducing energy costs.”
MacArthur’s support for these projects is a part of the Foundation’s Window of Opportunity initiative, a $150 million, 10-year effort to preserve affordable rental homes across America. By investing in these public-sector efforts, the Foundation hopes to help create a wave of policy reform in cities and states that will make it possible to double the rate of preservation in a decade—to one million units.
VHFA and VHCB competed with 80 applicants to be among the 12 awardees to receive funding from the MacArthur foundation under the initiative. Further information is available at: www.macfound.org/housing/vermont
VHCB will use its $600,000 grant to provide technical assistance and training workshops to nonprofits working on preserving affordable housing. A standardized appraisal guide for subsidized properties will be created, and developers will be assisted with the costs of required energy efficiency and capital needs assessments for all preservation projects.
VHFA will use its $2 million loan to capitalize three loan programs, including an ingenious loan product that will convert energy savings into the primary means of loan repayment. VHFA will offer a new equity bridge loan program, lengthening the period over which investors can contribute equity and allowing for higher contributions, in order to bring more equity to preservation products. A third program will expand an existing pre-development loan product.
Given the fact that it generally costs twice as much to build an affordable home as to preserve one, Vermont’s efforts to preserve affordable housing are critically important and serve as a model for other states throughout the country.
Over the next decade, Vermont faces a potential loss of subsidized rental housing that will affect more than 7,000 households statewide. The MacArthur Foundation investment is aimed at ensuring the preservation of between 50 and 75 percent of that affordable housing which is at risk due to expiring private and federal subsidies.
Many rental housing developments were originally financed with private tax credit equity that guaranteed a 15-20 year period of affordability or with federal Section 8 Certificates that are due to expire within the next several years. Anticipating the potential loss of affordability in these apartments, the agencies are working together to refinance and convert the units to permanently affordable housing.
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The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is a private, independent grantmaking institution helping to build a more just and sustainable world. The foundation fosters the development of knowledge, nurtures individual creativity, strengthens institutions, helps improve public policy, and provides information to the public, primarily through support for public interest media.
VHCB Grants $1.9 Million for Windham County
Projects in Marlboro and Brattleboro to Conserve
Hogback Mountain and Develop New Housing
On Friday, September 26, the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB) awarded three grants totaling $1,904,590 million towards the acquisition of 593 acres of land surrounding Hogback Mountain and to develop affordable and mixed income housing for 49 households in Brattleboro and West Brattleboro.
Gus Seelig, VHCB Executive Director, said, “These VHCB investments will help the Windham Housing Trust to continue its solid record of restoring and revitalizing Brattleboro’s historic neighborhoods to create permanent community assets. In the village of West Brattleboro, 21 new apartments will be created by a partnership between Housing Vermont and the Brattleboro Housing Authority. In Marlboro, we are pleased to support a grassroots group working to preserve public access and open land surrounding the Hogback Mountain Overlook.”
Brattleboro - For more than 20 years, the Windham Housing Trust has developed affordable housing in and around downtown Brattleboro. With a VHCB grant of $431,000 and $380,000 in federal HOME Program funds, WHT will acquire, rehabilitate and refinance 28 apartments and one commercial space in five buildings in the historic Canal and Elliot Street neighborhoods. WHT will take title to 172 Elliot Street, a severely distressed property that is under the control of the federal government due to past drug activities. The blighted building will be demolished and WHT will construct a 4-apartment building in its place, designed to be compatible with surrounding structures. Six apartments at 12 and 16 Horton Place will rehabilitated and an additional apartment will be created at 16 Horton Place. WHT is in the process of creating an historic district in this neighborhood of former worker housing, which would enable the organization to utilize federal historic tax credit financing. At 10 and 18 Canal Street, where WHT has an ownership interest, the group will refinance an expiring tax credit partnership and create a new limited partnership to own the buildings for the next 15 years. Energy efficiency improvements are planned for the 17 apartments at the Abbott Block (10 Canal) and 18 Canal Street.
West Brattleboro - Housing Vermont and the Brattleboro Housing Authority (BHA) will develop 21 new rental apartments at the Ann Wilder Richards building on Route 9 in the center of the village of West Brattleboro using $525,000 in VHCB funds and $250,000 in federal HOME Program funds awarded by VHCB. The development will convert a commercial building to residential and commercial use. The apartments will be affordable to low- and moderate-income individuals and families. Five of the apartments will receive project-based rental assistance, making them affordable to households earning less than half of median income. The development is adjacent to BHA’s Hayes Court development, where 24 units will be converted to assisted living. Development of the Ann Wilder Richards building will enable the BHA to begin the assisted living conversion three years sooner than originally projected.
Marlboro - The Hogback Mountain Conservation Association, working with The Vermont Land Trust, will use a VHCB grant of $318,590 to support the acquisition and conservation of 593 acres located between the summits of Hogback Mountain and Mount Olga. Included in the property are the peak of Hogback Mountain, the former Hogback Mountain ski area, portions of Mt. Olga, the lands visible directly below the Hogback Mountain Overlook, and land adjacent to Molly Stark State Park. The land falls on both the north and south sides of Route 9 in the vicinity of the Hogback Mountain Overlook, where there is a 100-mile view to the south. Route 9 is a designated Scenic Byway, also known as the Molly Stark Trail, an historic Revolutionary War pathway over the southern Green Mountains. Conservation will ensure permanent public access for recreation, protect wildlife habitat and natural areas. A forest management plan will be developed and an iconic vista over three states will be preserved. Additional fundraising is underway to complete the project budget.
VHCB GRANTS WILL CONSERVE LAND, BUILD AND
RENOVATE HOUSING AND FIGHT HUNGER IN CENTRAL VERMONT
Montpelier - On Friday, September 26, the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB) awarded three grants totaling $1.19 million towards the acquisition of approximately 100 acres to create a new public park and plan for the development of housing on Sabin’s Pasture in Montpelier, to conserve a farm in Warren to be purchased by the Vermont Foodbank, and to increase energy efficiency in 45 Montpelier apartments owned by the Central Vermont Community Land Trust.
Gus Seelig, VHCB Executive Director, said, “These are essential community projects. With food costs severely straining family budgets, we are proud to support the Vermont Foodbank’s initiative to grow and distribute local, affordable produce. Creating a new city park and developing mixed income housing in Montpelier is smart growth. These projects illustrate how housing and conservation can complement each other and enhance the quality of life for all the citizens in our communities.”
Sabin’s Pasture - A grant of $212,500 to the City of Montpelier and The Trust for Public Land will assist with acquisition costs of 100 acres, commonly known as “Sabin’s Pasture” with frontage on Barre Street in Montpelier. A new city park will be created on the upper portion of the land. The City will hold title to the land and manage the park. A residential neighborhood including both rental and homeownership would be developed along Barre Street.
The City has committed $188,000 towards land acquisition for the new park. Additional acquisition costs will be raised by the Trust for Public Land and by the sale of approximately 15-20 acres to a housing developer. A separate grant by the board of $43,962, matched by the Trust for Public Lands, will support work related to housing development, such as engineering, permitting, a market study, an updated appraisal and architectural plans.
Mayor Mary Hooper said, “The community of Montpelier is very grateful for VHCB support in the creation of what will be a great new neighborhood in Montpelier and a park within walking distance to the neighborhoods and businesses on the south side of the river. We are delighted at the prospect of new homes and an expanded tax base in the city, as well as continued recreational use of a beloved parcel of land.”
Although privately owned, for years the public has informally enjoyed Sabin’s Pasture for its recreational opportunities and scenic beauty. When a private developer proposed a 600-unit housing development for the site in 2002, many in the community voiced strong opposition, which began a lengthy public dialogue about its future.
In 2007, the Trust for Public Land convened community leaders in both conservation and housing and formed the Sabin’s Pasture Working Group. After numerous meetings, hearings, and further debate, the group developed a comprehensive set of recommendations for the site which has received broad community support and unanimous approval by the City Council.
The new public park will encompass an historic slate quarry and diverse natural habitats including meadows, mixed hardwood forest, wetlands, and riparian areas. Sabin’s Pasture and adjacent properties comprise a nearly continuous block of 500 acres of wildlife habitat within the city limits.
Kingsbury Farm, Warren and Waitsfield – Using $168,000 in VHCB funding, the Vermont Foodbank, a statewide non-profit dedicated to addressing hunger in Vermont, will work with the Vermont Land Trust to purchase and conserve 20 acres at the Kingsbury Farm on Route 100. The Foodbank will grow food for distribution to Mad River Valley and Central Vermont food shelves, pantries and partner agencies and will use the farm as an educational resource, establishing a community meeting space and community gardens.
The town of Warren will contribute to the acquisition from its conservation reserve fund. Over the next several months the Vermont Land Trust will lead a local fundraising campaign necessary in order to purchase the conservation easement and complete the sale to the Foodbank.
“The Vermont Foodbank’s purchase of the Kingsbury Farm, and the conservation of additional farmland in the valley, will directly increase the amount of locally grown food that is available and affordable to area residents,” said Liza Walker, Mad River Valley Director for the Vermont Land Trust. “To respond to the community’s call for greater self-sufficiency in the Valley, VLT will need the generous support of the entire community. The long-term protection of agricultural land will make a difference for this generation and generations to come.”
A protective buffer will be established along the Mad River and permanent public access will be ensured along a new section of the Mad River Path system there, connecting to an existing trail on town-owned land to the south. The property includes nearly 2,400 feet of frontage on the Mad River, including a swimming hole.
In November 2007, the Vermont Land Trust became interim owner of the Kingsbury Farm as part of a community-driven effort to conserve the property and find a new farm owner. VLT solicited proposals from prospective farm buyers, and after reviewing them with a local advisory group, chose the proposal from the Vermont Food Bank.
In 2006, the Vermont Foodbank distributed nearly 6.5 million pounds of food to its Network Partners around the state from its 26,000 square foot warehouse in Barre.
Central Vermont Community Land Trust Rehabilitation and Refinancing:
The Central Vermont Community Land Trust will use $420,000 in VHCB funds and $350,000 in federal HOME Program funds awarded by VHCB to rehabilitate and refinance 45 apartments in downtown Montpelier. The 39-unit North Branch Apartments on Elm Street, developed in 1992, will get a sprinkler system, a new fire alarm system, solar hot water, new boilers, improved insulation and weatherization, new doors, windows, thermostats, energy efficient lighting and repairs to the foundation walls into the riverbed. Overall, the rehabilitation will increase energy efficiency in these homes by more than 50%. Apartments at 47 Barre Street and 6 Monsignor Crosby Avenue will be similarly rehabilitated.
CVCLT Director Eileen Peliter said, “At today’s fuel costs, addressing energy efficiency in our housing portfolio is crucial to our bottom line. In 2009 our fuel budget for these properties will increase by more than $15,000—a 40% rise in cost. While improving the technology of the building systems is necessary, efficiency improvements are only part of the solution. CVCLT is meeting with our tenants to develop ideas for changing how we live and work in order to further reduce energy demands."
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