Vermont Presented with Award for Homeless Assistance
Brattleboro - Prospects are looking up for residents of Great River Terrace, the first permanent supportive housing development in Southern Vermont. Located on the Putney Road, Great River Terrace was created by housing developers Windham & Windsor Housing Trust and Housing Vermont. They acquired and redeveloped the Lamplighter Inn, a former motel, to create 22 affordable homes, half of which are designated for previously homeless individuals.The ribbon cutting was held in June and the efficiency units are quickly filling up, showing the need for housing affordable to very low-income Vermonters--many of them previously homeless.
The development conforms to the recommendations of Vermont’s Roadmap to End Homelessness, a January 2017 report commissioned by the Vermont Legislature that outlines best practices for supportive housing, including incorporating housing for the general population with housing created for homeless individuals.
According to the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust, "Supportive housing combines affordable housing with services — most often located on-site — that can help people who face complex challenges live with stability and dignity. Supportive housing targets the most vulnerable people and gives them the support they need to live a full and healthy life. It provides chronically homeless people a way out of expensive emergency public services, and into their own homes and communities."
Following the Housing First model, there are no conditions for sobriety or other preconditions to obtain or maintain housing and there is no time limit on occupancy. On-site services, which are voluntary, include health counseling, substance abuse counseling and support, life skills education and coaching, employment referral and support, financial capability support, health and wellness coaching, and 24-hour crisis services.
A new community building with office space, laundry facilities, a community kitchen, and living room was constructed and support services are provided by Healthcare and Rehabilitative Services and Groundworks Collaborative. A gut rehab of the two existing motel buildings increased energy efficiency and the quality of construction dramatically.
Beacon Apartments in Burlington, developed on a similar model by the Champlain Housing Trust, opened in January 2016 and has documented savings of $6,300 per resident annually on the costs of housing (rental apartment vs. emergency housing in motel rooms), support services, health care costs, and reduced visits to the emergency room by homeless individuals with chronic health conditions, costs that would otherwise be paid by taxpayers.
Funding sources for the $4.6 million development included VHCB awards of $450,200 in Housing Revenue Bond funds, $458,000 in federal HOME Program funds, and $642,460 in National Housing Trust Funds. The Town of Brattleboro provided $420,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds; the Passumpsic Bank invested $1.4 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits.