(a) The dual goals of creating affordable housing for Vermonters, and conserving and protecting Vermont's agricultural land, forestland, historic properties, important natural areas, and recreational lands are of primary importance to the economic vitality and quality of life of the State.
(b) In the best interests of all of its citizens and in order to improve the quality of life for Vermonters and to maintain for the benefit of future generations the essential characteristics of the Vermont countryside, and to support farm, forest, and related enterprises, Vermont should encourage and assist in creating affordable housing and in preserving the State's agricultural land, forestland, historic properties, important natural areas and recreational lands, and in keeping conserved agricultural land in production and affordable for future generations of farmers.
Established in 1987, the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board remains the forerunner in the nation in pioneering a comprehensive approach to affordable housing and community development linked with land conservation and historic preservation. The results have been impressive. With a cadre of nonprofit organizations working at the local level to identify and develop important projects in each community, the effects of 35 years of investment are discernible in every part of the state. VHCB has supported reinvestment in older housing in town and village centers, revitalizing downtown neighborhoods where residents can walk to services, and rebuilding a sense of community while spurring other private investment. The conservation of Vermont’s open and wild lands preserves the landscape that is such an integral part of the state’s identity, supports the agricultural and forest economies, protects wildlife habitat, and provides public access to the state’s waterways and woodlands.
Since its inception, the Board has awarded $400 million to nonprofit housing and conservation organizations, towns, municipalities and state agencies to conserve land, develop housing and restore historic community buildings in more than 200 towns. This investment has directly leveraged approximately $1.9 billion from other private and public sources and resulted in the creation of more than 13,880 affordable homes, the conservation of 438,400 acres of agricultural and recreational lands, forestland and natural areas, and the restoration of 78 historic community buildings for public use. Many VHCB housing awards have supported housing in buildings eligible, nominated or listed on the State or National Register of Historic Places. Historic barns and farmhouses and archeological sites are located on many farms conserved with VHCB funding.
Addressing Challenges with Creative Solutions
Breaking down traditional silos of housing, economic development, and land conservation, VHCB helps Vermonters tackle issues of chronic poverty, job losses, affordability, and fraying infrastructure. With our partners we provide affordable homes for working families, improve community infrastructure, protect natural areas and recreational land, restore historic public buildings, grow farm and forest businesses, and support energy efficiency and renewable energy generation. The economy of our rural state is becoming more resilient and the quality of life is improving as state agencies, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector work together to develop coordinated solutions to complex issues.
Strategic VHCB investments have improved the economic stability of Vermont communities and downtowns, municipal and non-profit delivery systems, working lands, and Main Street businesses. In meeting multiple economic, environmental, and community objectives, VHCB supports housing, conservation, and community development projects that leverage private and federal funds, contribute to healthy communities and landscapes, promote Vermont's traditional growth pattern with development in town and village centers surrounded by open land, and support economic vitality.
The Board's enabling statute is: The Vermont Housing and Conservation Trust Fund Act, 10 V.S.A. Chapter 15, §§302-325a
Read about the formation of the Housing and Conservation Coalition, passage of the legislation establishing the Vermont Housing and Conservation Trust Fund, and the work of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board since 1987: A Conspiracy of Good Will Among Land Trusts and Housing Trusts Vermonters Jim Libby and Darby Bradley tell the story of the statewide organizing effort by advocates for affordable housing and land conservation which led to the formation of a unique political coalition. Challenges and new opportunities are outlined. Published in Property and Values - Alternatives to Public and Private Ownership, Edited by Charles Geisler and Gail Daneker, Island Press, 2000.
The Vermont Housing and Conservation Trust Fund: A Unique Approach to Developing Affordable Housing by James M. Libby, Jr., Clearinghouse Review, February 1990.