VHCB Awards $2.75 million in State and Federal Funding for Affordable Housing, Land Conservation, Historic Preservation
At a meeting on March 19, VHCB committed $2.75 million in state and federal funding for housing developments, conservation projects, and historic preservation around the state.
"With these actions, the Board is helping to strengthen communities and support the productive and resilient landscape that is key to Vermont's culture and economy", said Executive Director Gus Seelig. "Creating new housing with support services for vulnerable Vermonters and providing home ownership opportunities, protecting farmland and natural areas, recreational and historic resources--these investments help make communities stronger and healthier, in good times and bad."
In Brattleboro, Housing Vermont and Brattleboro Housing Partnerships will develop 18 new apartments to be co-located with Red Clover Commons, a development of 55 new apartments completed in 2016 to replace some of the housing for elderly and disabled residents of Melrose Terrace, which was flooded during Tropical Storm Irene. These 18 new apartments will house tenants remaining at Melrose Terrace, allowing that site to be repurposed through a major floodplain mitigation project. In addition to a previous award of VHCB funding, the developers will use $254,000 in federal HOME Program funds, and $674,400 in federal Housing Trust Funding for Red Clover Commons II.
The Champlain Housing Trust will use $600,000 in VHCB funding to assist with refinancing and reconfiguring apartment buildings they own in Essex to create service-supported Recovery Housing for individuals in recovery from substance use disorder. The apartments will be managed by the Vermont Foundation for Recovery (VFOR), a Vermont organization that currently operates five recovery homes around the state. VFOR will staff each building with a program manager that works with residents in recovery. The two residences are expected to open in July.
Groundworks Collaborative, an organization providing housing and services to individuals and families experiencing homelessness, has secured $2.8 million for a new, two-building campus to be constructed on South Main Street in Brattleboro providing a seasonal overflow shelter, a day shelter and drop-in center, and program and administrative offices. Groundworks will receive an additional VHCB award of $35,000, supplementing a previous VHCB award of $325,000 for the $3.1 million development.
The Board committed $223,652 to the Homeland Program for down payment grants for approximately five households statewide purchasing single-family homes through community land trusts or Habitat for Humanity Chapters using the shared equity model. The program provides grants of up to $50,000 (or 20-25% of the purchase price of a home, depending on area median home prices), whichever is less. Buyers agree to limit the amount of appreciation upon resale and the grant funds stay with the home to be recycled to the next income-eligible buyer.
In Brookfield, with a $25,000 VHCB award and additional fundraising, The Nature Conservancy will acquire a conservation easement on Lamson Pond Fen, 55 acres of managed woodlands plus a 5-acre fen and wetlands that form part of the headwaters of the Second Branch of the White River. Located one mile northwest of the village center on the Taplin Farm, the woodland and wetlands are important habitat for unusual plants and animals and serve to filter and disburse rainwater, mitigating potential flooding episodes downstream while protecting and improving water quality. The conserved land will remain open for public access. The property will be subject to a Forest Management Plan and water quality protections in the easement will pertain to the 5-acre fen. Proceeds from the sale of the conservation easement will allow the farm owners to complete infrastructure projects, improving their business.
The Broad Brook Community Center, a former Grange Hall in Guilford, will be restored and upgraded to better serve the town as a central and accessible hub for social, civic, educational, and recreational activities. The property has already been put into new uses during the coronavirus situation with the public accessing free broadband from the parking lot and the property deployed as a pick-up site for school lunches. The Guilford Food Pantry is also continuing to supply important nutritional support to families, now as a drive-up service.
The circa 1896 Queen Anne-style structure is located adjacent to the town library, meeting house and historical society and near the town offices and the Guilford Central School. With $60,000 in VHCB funding and $1.3 million in other funds, renovations will address safety code issues and ADA standards for accessibility, improve energy efficiency, add an elevator and sprinkler system, restore windows, and refinish floors. A new well and septic system will be installed, the kitchen will be renovated, and a full basement will replace the existing crawlspace.
A popular, 3-acre swimming hole at the Dorset Quarry will be conserved by the Vermont River Conservancy, using $25,000 in VHCB funding and $150,000 from other sources. The oldest marble quarry in the United States, the Dorset Quarry operated from 1780 to 1921 and is listed on the Vermont State Register of Historic Places. Hundreds of swimmers visit the quarry daily during the summer months. Conservation will protect permanent public access.
In Colchester, 124 acres of farmland with 8,500 feet of frontage along the Winooski River will be acquired and conserved by the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, using $459,000 in VHCB funding and $350,000 in other funds. The former dairy is located entirely in the floodplain and subject to regular flooding. The land will be restored to floodplain forest and wetlands and managed as a Wildlife Management Area by the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, improving flood resilience, wildlife habitat, and water quality. Existing buildings will be removed and public access will be provided. The Nature Conservancy has raised $70,000 for the restoration, and nearly $300,000 in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Clean water funds will complement the VHCB award.
The Vermont Land Trust will conserve 313 acres of farmland and woodlands in North Danville, using $142,500 in federal funds from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and $155,500 in VHCB funding. The easement will include buffers along 9,500 feet of streams on the property that drain into the Connecticut River watershed, protecting water quality and enhancing wildlife connectivity.
The Vermont Land Trust will purchase an Option to Purchase at Agricultural Value (OPAV) on the Last Resort Farm in Monkton, facilitating the intergenerational transfer of the farm to Silas Burr-Doyle, son of the owners, Sam Burr and Eugenie Doyle. Silas will operate the organic vegetable, fruit, and berry operation and the OPAV will help maintain the farm’s affordability to farmers in the future. The OPAV will include water quality protections for three wetlands and Pond Brook, which runs through the property.