Vermont Housing & Conservation Board Invests $29 Million to Support Eight Permanently Affordable Housing Developments and Protect Nearly 2,000 Acres Statewide

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 3, 2024
Contact: Cara Hansen, @email; 828-5075

Vermont Housing & Conservation Board Invests $29 Million to Support Eight Permanently Affordable Housing Developments and Protect Nearly 2,000 Acres Statewide

Montpelier, Vt. – At its June meeting, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) approved $5.4 million in funding for two historic preservation projects and 15 conservation projects that will protect 1,942 acres in eight counties, and $23.4 million to support eight housing projects in five counties, and two statewide housing initiatives.

“The volume of projects presented at our June meeting reflects Vermont’s urgent need for more housing, protection of our natural environment, and investment in our agricultural communities,” said Gus Seelig, Executive Director of VHCB. “We’re grateful for our partners’ dedication to housing and conservation efforts that balance these priorities throughout the state."

Included in the housing developments that received support were 82 shelter beds, 30 new affordable condominiums to add to the Burlington homeownership market, and 117 affordable rental apartments for mixed-income households and households experiencing homelessness. Grants were also made to support state-wide down-payment assistance programs for first time homebuyers and to fund program and operating costs that allow home access modifications for low-income Vermonters with physical disabilities.

Conservation projects will protect 85 acres of working forestland, 373 acres of natural land and recreational area, and nearly 1,500 acres of farmland. The total acreage to be conserved includes 134 wetland acres and 12.5 acres of riparian buffer.

Together, these projects protect Vermont’s natural environment and provide critical access to homes for Vermonters through the state’s housing crisis. Preserving Vermont’s natural and working lands is an important part of enriching biological diversity and ensuring Vermont’s food security for the future. Land conservation benefits include mitigating climate change, reducing flooding risk in Vermont’s communities, and protecting water quality. The housing investments help to ensure Vermonters have access to a range of housing types from rental to safe access to owned homes for Vermonters with disabilities.

Summary of June 2024 funding awards approved by VHCB, listed by county:

Addison County:

$568,500 was awarded for the conservation of 206 acres of agricultural land in Orwell, with 14 acres in a wetland protection zone.

$403,500 was awarded for the conservation of 153 acres of agricultural land in Shoreham, including a 5-acre wetland protection zone.

$190,000 was awarded for a retroactive Option to Purchase at Agricultural Value (OPAV) on 296 acres of conserved land in Whiting.

$95,875 was awarded for the conservation of 42.46 acres of land in Shoreham and Bridport.

Bennington County:

$4,000,000 was awarded to Shires Housing to preserve an existing 29-unit affordable housing property, which includes historic buildings, in Arlington Village for families and seniors. The homes, owned by Shires Housing, are close to schools, shops, and the health center, and are served by public transportation. 

Chittenden County:

$3,850,000 was awarded to Champlain Housing Trust (CHT) to create 30 new affordable condominiums in the Cambrian Rise neighborhood, which will add two- and three-bedroom units to the very tight Burlington homeownership market. These homes will provide affordable homeownership opportunities for buyers in an increasingly competitive market that puts home purchase out of reach for many. Cambrian Rise includes a common green for all residents, community gardens, and easy access to the bike path and Lake Champlain.

$4,500,000 was awarded to Champlain Housing Trust and Evernorth for the construction of Windy Ridge Apartments in Hinesburg’s Village Growth Center. The new development will create new one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartment homes for 36 mixed-income households, including seven units designated to serve households experiencing homelessness. These homes will be built on a 45.6-acre parcel that was gifted by a generous donor.

$310,000 was awarded for a retroactive Option to Purchase at Agricultural Value (OPAV) on 56 acres of conserved land in Charlotte, including 2 acres in a wetland protection zone.

Franklin County:

$275,000 was awarded to the Preservation Trust of Vermont for the historic preservation and restoration of the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi Food Shelf and Headquarters in Swanton. The site hosts a food pantry, center for cultural heritage, counseling, and wellness clinics.

$1,048,500 was awarded for the conservation of 334 acres of agricultural land, adding to an expansive block of conserved farmland in Swanton and including a 65-acre wetland protection zone.

$523,500 was awarded for the conservation of 152 acres of agricultural land in Swanton including 23 acres in wetland protection zones and 1,500 of stream frontage.

Lamoille County:

$24,000 was awarded for 12.9 acres and a short section of the Long Trail in a remote area in Johnson.

Orleans County:

$4,502,746 was awarded to RuralEdge and Evernorth to restore and redevelop the historic Greensboro Town Hall creating 20 rural rental apartments for a mix of income levels, including three units for households exiting homelessness. Funding for this project work will support the renovation of the existing building and a three-story addition, as well as upgrades to the property’s wastewater and storm water system.

$505,500 was awarded for the conservation of 229 acres of agricultural land in Albany, including 12.5 acres of riparian buffer protection.

Washington County:

$8,023,225 was awarded to Downstreet Housing and Community Development (Downstreet) to purchase and renovate the Quality Inn hotel on South Main Street in Barre City. Downstreet will continue operating the 42-unit property as a hotel that serves people experiencing homelessness, fleeing domestic violence, in need of a stable environment for medical respite, or with another short-term shelter need. On-site services will be coordinated to help residents stabilize and identify permanent housing options as quickly as possible.

$30,000 in project capacity funding was awarded to Good Samaritan Haven (GSH) to support the development of additional shelter capacity to serve homeless individuals with complex needs.

$3,508,814 was awarded to Randolph Area Community Development Corporation (RACDC) for the redevelopment of two existing buildings, the construction of a new seven-unit apartment building on the same property, and the acquisition and renovation of two additional buildings. In total, the development includes 32 permanently affordable rental units in Randolph, seven of which will be new, and eight of which will be set aside for households exiting homelessness.

$180,000 was awarded for the conservation of 85.4 acres of working forestland in Stowe.

$281,500 was awarded to the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation (VTFPR) and Waterbury Land Initiative (WLI) for the purchase and protection of 83.25 acres that will expand C.C. Putnam State Forest (CCPSF) and the Perry Hill trail system in Waterbury.

Windham County:

$4,283,727 was awarded to Groundworks Collaborative to build a new adult shelter in Brattleboro with 40 beds, adequate bathrooms, kitchen space, storage, and essential one-on-one meeting space where shelter staff and service providers can meet with residents for case management and housing support services. The new building will replace an existing structure to accommodate more beds and incorporate a trauma-informed design and safety features for staff and residents.

$342,000 was awarded for the conservation of 57.5 acres of agricultural land: 47 acres in Wilmington and 10.5 acres in Whitingham.

$300,000 was awarded to Putney Mountain Association to acquire and conserve three contiguous parcels in Putney, totaling approximately 159 acres, and adding protection to Windmill Hill Ridgeline Block with access for trail-based and dispursed recreation.

Windsor County:

$110,000 was awarded to Norwich Community Collaborative and the Preservation Trust of Vermont for the historic preservation and restoration of the Grange Hall in Norwich. The 1892 building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and sits on .17 acres, where it has served as a community gathering place since 1916.

$228,000 was awarded to the Upper Valley Land Trust to acquire and conserve 75 acres adjacent to Hartland’s Village center. The new conserved land will create the Pohl Conservation Area, providing community recreational access, agricultural practices, and the promotion of four-season outdoor activities. Seven acres will be reserved for affordable housing.

Statewide:

$2,600,000 to support homeownership across the state through down-payment assistance grants for first-time homebuyers, construction of new Habitat for Humanity homes, and the stewardship of existing homes.

$445,000 was awarded to Vermont Center for Independent Living (VCIL) for program and operating costs of their Home Access Program (HAP). HAP provides home entry and bathroom accessibility modifications for low-income Vermonters with physical disabilities so they can remain in their homes, while increasing opportunities for participation in the civic and social life of the community.

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