VHCB Awards $10.7 Million for Affordable Housing, Land Conservation and Historic Preservation in 17 Towns
At meetings in December and January, the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board awarded $6,360,027 in State funding and $4,341,136 in federal funds for projects in 17 towns that preserve, rehabilitate and create 91 affordable homes, protect 2,412 acres of agricultural and recreational land, forestland, and natural areas, and restore historic resources.
Executive Director Gus Seelig said, “Our Board is proud to support these community initiatives that will create much needed affordable homeownership opportunities; modernize and improve energy efficiency at key housing resources for seniors in Williston, Randolph and Burke; assist in providing support for Vermonters in recovery; and help young farmers acquire land. Two projects will add acreage and enhance access to state parks and Wildlife Management Areas, protecting habitat and improving water quality. Vermont has seen a rise in the cost of housing and land throughout the pandemic. Our community partners are to be congratulated for meeting this moment by working in partnership and leveraging federal and private funding. Together, these investments will enhance quality of life across Vermont.“
Addison County – An award of $345,000 in VHCB funds for pre-development engineering work and debt reduction will enable the Addison County Community Trust to restructure eight mobile home parks they own with financing from VHFA. The parks include a combined total of 273 mobile home lots in the towns of Bristol, Huntington, Monkton, Starksboro, and Vergennes.
Barre – A VHCB award of $175,000 will help Downstreet Housing & Community Development purchase and renovate a deteriorated 1900s duplex apartment building in downtown Barre to create a residence for women in recovery from substance use disorder and their dependent children. Support services will be provided by the Vermont Foundation of Recovery (VFOR), an organization that operates several such residences around Vermont.
Barre Town – The Vermont Land Trust is working with Old Soul Farm on Bridge Street, using $132,000 in VHCB funding to conserve 34 acres from the adjacent Lambert farm to expand this vegetable, berry, and poultry operation. Matt Systo and Kim Rich currently operate Old Soul Farm on 12 acres with several hoop houses, a machinery shed, and a barn that has been converted into a farm store and attracts many customers in the summer months. VLT used Farmland Futures Funds to purchase the land; they will lease it to Old Soul Farm and plan to conserve and sell it to Matt and Kim in 2022.
Bridport - The Vermont Land Trust will add an Option to Purchase at Agricultural Value on the Harvest Moon Farm with $130,000 in VHCB funding, helping to keep the farm in agricultural use and facilitating transfer of part ownership of the farm to the owners’ son, Michael Ingwersen. The productive, 175-acre dairy farm was conserved in 2002. The option will specify two wetland protection zones covering 22.5 acres with clayplain forest and wetlands along the West Branch of Dead Creek. The Vermont Land Trust has secured a $28,000 an Ecosystem Restoration Grant to revegetate these areas in the Spring of 2021.
The Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife will use $415,000 in VHCB funds to acquire 433 acres of farmland south of VT Route 125 along the Lemon Fair River. The land will be added to the Lemon Fair Wildlife Management Area. Most of the acreage will be retired from agricultural use and restored with native vegetation, however a portion of the farmland will be leased for continued agricultural use. The buildings will be removed from the property and two new parking areas are planned, improving public access to the WMA. The project will improve wildlife habitat and water quality in Lake Champlain by reducing runoff from the farm.
Bridgewater – A $50,000 VHCB award will help the Bridgewater Area Community Foundation restore the former Bridgewater Village School. Built in 1914, and owned by the town, the building is located on Route 4 adjacent to the town office. The town plans to create a community center hosting a child-care facility, senior center, community gathering space, retail activity and an emergency shelter. Construction is expected to start in early 2021 with the child care center and some commercial space able to open in June.
Burke – RuralEdge and Evernorth will acquire and rehabilitate 15 senior and family apartments and construct eight additional apartments for families and individuals in the Village of West Burke. There is project-based rental assistance for all units. A VHCB award of $615,269, $545,000 in HOME funds, and $351,504 in National Housing Trust Fund funds will complement a USDA Rural Development low-interest loan, State Housing Tax Credit and Low-Income Housing Tax Credit equity from the Community National Bank, and awards from the Vermont Community Development Program and the Federal Home Loan Bank to complete the budget. Construction is expected to begin in mid-summer.
Charlotte – The Vermont Land Trust will use a VHCB award of $40,500 and $207,500 in funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to conserve 71 acres on the Snow Farm. At closing, the farm will transfer to new owners who plan to operate a vegetable and flower operation with roadside sales. The land is located on Route 7 near the foot of Mount Philo. The prospective owners have been renting farmland and worked with the Intervale Center through VHCB’s Farm & Forest Viability Program to develop a business plan to purchase the farm. The town of Charlotte is contributing $100,000 towards conservation of the farmland.
Randolph – The Randolph Area Community Development Corporation will use $406,649 in VHCB funding, $610,000 in federal HOME funds, and $618,231 in National Housing Trust Funds to rehabilitate Randolph House, 48 apartments with federal rental assistance for very low-income elderly and/or disabled households. The scope of work will include accessibility upgrades to five apartments for people with disabilities and upgrades to the sprinkler system. A one-story addition will be constructed on the back of the building to provide a lobby, common area, kitchen, restrooms, space for support services, and offices for the SASH program and property management. An elevator tower will be added to the exterior of the building to accommodate a full-size second elevator. The parking lot will be expanded and service entrances will improve accessibility.
St. Albans – With $245,500 in VHCB funding and $257,500 in federal funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Nelson Dairies West LLC will conserve 129 acres, working with the Vermont Land Trust. The farm is owned by Bourdeau Brothers, a large feed, fertilizer, and farm equipment dealer serving a multi-state region. The project will add to an 8,000-acre block of conserved farmland—one of the largest contiguous blocks of conserved land in all of New England.
Whitingham - Corse Farm Maple Products is working with the Vermont Land Trust, using $121,500 in VHCB funding and $108,500 from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to conserve 166 acres of sugarbush and fields owned by Roy and Vanessa Corse. The adjacent 291-acre Corse Family organic dairy farm was conserved with VHCB funding in 2012. The conservation easement will include provisions for water quality protection.
Williston - With $449,808 in VHCB funding and $681,972 in National Housing Trust Fund funds awarded by VHCB, Cathedral Square will rehabilitate Whitney Hill Homestead, a 30-year-old housing community in the village for older adults serving primarily very low-income residents. Substantial rehab will include a new sprinkler system, mechanical systems, lighting, kitchen cabinets, interior finishes, insulation, air sealing, siding, windows, and replacement of the majority of the roofing.
Winooski - The Champlain Housing Trust will construct Butternut Station, 20 condominiums on Mallets Bay Avenue with $1,300,146 in Housing Revenue Bond funds and $199,854 in VHCB funds. The development will also use new market tax credit equity, bringing more than $1.4 million of new investment to the state and adding homes to the very tight Chittenden County homeownership market. CHT plans to target sales to BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color) purchasers in the diverse community of Winooski. The City of Winooski will donate the building lot, located in a parking area by the O’Brien Community Center, the City Library, a community health center, a dental practice and an employment training center.