VHCB Awards Funding for Flood Resilience and Refugee Housing

MONTPELIER, Vermont – At a meeting on June 20, the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB) awarded $3.7 million in funding to back two initiatives that will support affordable housing in the state.

Brattleboro – An award of $2.5 million was given to Tri-Park Coop Housing to pay for infrastructure, site work, and demolition and relocation of a maintenance garage, to allow space for the creation of 26 infill lots throughout the Mountain Home community. The manufactured home community was in the path of fast moving waters in the flood zone when Tropical Storm Irene hit Vermont in 2011. The space created for the new lots will be sited away from the flood zone, as the risk of extreme weather and flooding continues to increase.

“We know that climate change will continue to bring challenging weather events that have the potential to displace Vermonters,” said VHCB Executive Director Gus Seelig. “This investment will ensure resilience by allowing Tri-Park households to continue to live safely and affordably in their community.”

Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.) provided critical support to Tri-Park by securing $1.2 million of federal funding through a Congressionally Directed Spending award. By including funding for Tri-Park in the federal budget, Senators Sanders and Welch ensured that the dollars would directly serve the Brattleboro community. VHCB helped to administer the grant and completed the allocation of the funding to the project as part of the June board meeting award.

“As we work to address Vermont’s housing crisis and recover and rebuild from this summer’s devastating floods, I am proud that Senator Welch and I have secured more the $1.2 million in much-needed federal funding for Tri-Park Cooperative Housing in Brattleboro,” said Sen. Sanders. “The oldest and largest resident-owned manufactured housing community in the state, Tri-Park makes up ten percent of the housing in Brattleboro and is one of the largest unsubsidized providers of affordable housing for low-income people in Vermont. Yet Tri-Park's residents – many of whom include working families, senior households, and Vermonters with disabilities – are still even now recovering from Tropical Storm Irene and remain at risk to flooding today. Unacceptable. This essential funding will go a long way in helping Tri-Park residents move out of harm’s way, strengthen and expand the community, and increase its climate resilience for years to come.”

"Climate change has made events like flooding increasingly common and more severe in communities in Vermont and across the United States,” said Sen. Welch. “This grant funding will support flood resilience upgrades at Tri-Park Cooperative Housing, helping low- and middle-income families cope with flooding and remain in the community they love. That’s a win for working families and huge step forward to help this Brattleboro community become more resilient to climate change. I’m proud to have joined Sen. Sanders and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board to secure funding for this project, and I congratulate Tri-Park on this exciting award.”

VHCB funding for this initiative will be leveraged to access capital from the Flood Resilient Communities Fund (FRCF) and Vermont state homeownership tax credits through Windham and Windsor Housing Trust for the purchase of zero energy modular homes to replace the damaged homes.

Montpelier – Downstreet Housing & Community Development (Downstreet) was awarded innovation funds in the amount of $1.2 million to establish a pool of capital that will allow the non-profit to be nimble in the overactive real estate market. Downstreet has been working with a local Montpelier community group, Central Vermont Refugee Action Network (CVRAN), to identify potential homes or buildings that could be purchased and rehabilitated to meet the rental needs of larger refugee families. VHCB’s decision to grant the Barre non-profit preapproval and faster access to capital enables Downstreet to move quickly enough to be competitive in securing a suitable property in the very hot Montpelier real estate market.

“We recognize the challenges that the current housing market presents to our partner organizations, and we want to continue to support their efforts to make affordable homes available to those who need them the most,” said Gus Seelig, VHCB Executive Director. “Our support of Downstreet’s initiative to provide housing for refugees is in line with our belief that all are welcome here, and everyone deserves a home.”