Opening of Garden Street Apartments in South Burlington Celebrated

Posted on Monday, January 13, 2020, by Chris Donnelly

New Apartments, Located Midway Between Al’s French Frys and
Healthy Living, Help New City Center Take Shape

South Burlington, Vermont – City and State leaders clipped the ribbon on 60 new apartments in South Burlington as part of a long-planned – and now coming to life – new City Center.

The apartments, named Garden Street Apartments, were developed by Snyder Braverman Development Company with an agreement to sell the building to the Champlain Housing Trust and Housing Vermont. The apartments will remain affordable forever.

“It’s great to be here halfway between Al’s French Frys and Healthy Living celebrating these new apartments,” said City Council President Helen Riehle. “We’ll keep getting together to celebrate the progress in City Center because this has taken a number of years, involving countless South Burlington residents, committees and boards, and all South Burlington tax payers. This new affordable housing another important step in the culmination of a long-dreamed center that will demonstrate and reflect the community’s inclusive values.”

Nearly a quarter of the funding for the development – $3.9 million – came from the proceeds from Housing for All revenue bond proposed by the Governor and enacted by the Legislature in 2017.

The apartments were built at the corner of Market Street, which was recently completed, and a yet-to-be constructed extension of Garden Street. “We’re so pleased to be able to provide new affordable housing options at this new vibrant center near amenities and jobs and in the core of the county,” added Brenda Torpy, CEO of Champlain Housing Trust. “We are especially appreciative of the people of South Burlington for pushing this vision and creating resources to make it happen.”

The City of South Burlington established one of only a few affordable housing trust funds in the State, and has contributed $150,000 in addition to sponsoring an application for state funds through the Vermont Community Development Program.

Other funders include NeighborWorks® America and the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, which administers the Housing for All bond and also added federal HOME funds for the housing. The largest source, though, is the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program, administered by the Vermont Housing Finance Agency. TD Bank is the investor providing $6.9 million in equity in exchange for the credits flowing from the development. VHFA also provided a construction loan for the project.

“Thanks to a great team and a superior location near jobs, transportation and services, we were able to raise private equity and public capital to create beautiful new homes for people who cannot otherwise afford to live in South Burlington, said Nancy Owens, President of Housing Vermont.  We’re excited to be part of an inclusive community project which offers economic stability and new opportunities for residents.”

People started moving into the 60 apartments in the last month. There are 26 one-bedroom, 20 two-bedroom, 11 three-bedroom, and three four-bedroom apartments. Rent includes heat and hot water, and are targeted to be affordable to wide range of incomes:

1BR apartments                            $713 to $1,080/month

2BR apartments                            $861 to $1,375/month

3BR apartments                            $990 to $1,750/month

4BR apartments                            $1,230 to $1,950/month

For more information on renting, visit the Champlain Housing Trust website at

Presentation: Could CLTs be the Answer to the Housing Crisis in the Global South?

Posted on Tuesday, November 05, 2019, by Chris Donnelly

CHT is excited to bring Dr. Theresa Williamson of Catalytic Communities to Burlington for a presentation and discussion on how the community land trust model is addressing housing insecurity in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro as part of our 35th anniversary celebration. The event will be at Contois Auditorium at Burlington’s City Hall from 7pm to 8:30 on Thursday, November 14. It is free to the public and all are welcome to attend. 

Her presentation, “Could Community Land Trusts be the Answer to the Housing Crisis in the Global South?”, draws and builds upon models developed here in Burlington and will be followed by a panel of guests including CHT’s Brenda Torpy; John Emmeus Davis who has traveled the world consulting on CLTs; and City Councilor Brian Pine, who was Burlington’s Housing Director for years.

The CLT model has shown itself to be resilient and adaptable, without ever losing its core tenets and clear objective: guaranteeing permanently affordable housing that builds community. With the price of land escalating worldwide and threatening people's access to shelter, Community Land Trusts are now being explored more than ever as a way to protect vulnerable communities. In Brazil, residents of the informal settlements knowns as favelas are considering and applying the CLT model after-the-fact.  In this talk specially developed for her visit to the Champlain Housing Trust, Dr. Williamson will present the historical realities and current struggles of Rio de Janeiro's favelas, and how a model so close to home may just offer a revolutionary solution to communities half a world away.

Theresa Williamson, Ph.D. is a city planner and founding executive director of Catalytic Communities (CatComm), an NGO working to support Rio de Janeiro’s favelas through asset-based community development. She is a longtime advocate for the recognition of the favelas’ heritage status and their residents’ right to be treated as equal citizens, has received numerous awards and has been published several times including four op-eds in The New York Times.

CHT Opens New Affordable Apartments on Burlington’s Waterfront

Posted on Monday, October 07, 2019, by Chris Donnelly

Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman, Senate President Tim Ashe, and Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger were among the elected officials that celebrated the opening of 76 new affordable apartments in Burlington Monday.

“Too many Vermonters struggle with housing costs, the largest piece of most families’ budgets. I am pleased to celebrate this opening and recognize its part in meeting our statewide goals of affordable and inclusive housing,” said Lt. Governor Zuckerman.

The building was developed by Housing Vermont and Champlain Housing Trust, with the Housing Trust leasing up and managing the building. The first tenants moved in September 20; as of Monday, virtually all the apartments were taken.

“These new apartments are literally in my neighborhood, so I know how desperately needed they are. More than a hundred people will have a high-quality, affordable new home once the moving trucks have come and gone. I know first-hand as someone who has developed affordable housing how important this is. It’s just what we hoped for when we passed the state housing bond,” added Senator Ashe.

The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board provided close to $2 million, or close to 10%, of the overall cost of the development, including funding from the Housing for All Revenue Bond of 2017 and the National Housing Trust Fund. A significant piece of the funding came from the Low Income Housing Tax Credit allocated by the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, with People’s United Bank as an investor. Several other funders such as NeighborWorks® America contributed to the financing, and the City of Burlington committed funds through their Housing Trust Fund federal HOME Program resources.

“Housing impacts everything that we want and need to do in our city. Even as we continue to work on policy reforms that will make homes more available and affordable for Burlingtonians, it is so exciting to see these 76 new, permanently affordable homes open up at the Laurentide Apartments,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “I am proud that the City has been a partner in creating this new mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood from the beginning. I can’t wait to meet the Burlingtonians who have already moved in to these apartments, and to see this become a home for many.”

Laurentide Apartments is part of a larger, mixed-use, mixed income neighborhood under development along with a new public park on 28 acres along North Avenue. In all, about 800 new homes will be constructed over the next several years. With Burlington’s inclusionary zoning ordinance, a quarter will be permanently affordable. The average rent for a two-bedroom, income-restricted apartment is about $1,000 including heat and hot water – which is more than $500 lower than the Fair Market Rent in the region.

People with a range of incomes have moved in or are moving in to the new apartments, including 14 households who are moving out of homelessness and several apartments that are set aside for those earning above what federal programs are normally allowed to serve, yet cannot find an affordable apartment in the tight Chittenden County housing market.

Building Homes Together campaign: Homes built, affordability lags

Posted on Monday, September 09, 2019, by Chris Donnelly

A campaign to encourage housing production in Chittenden County is keeping apace of its overall production goals, but the gap between housing costs and wages is growing housing leaders announced today.

There were 620 homes developed and ready for occupancy in 2018. Over the first three years of the campaign an average of 758 homes were built each year ahead of the pace needed to meet the campaign’s goal of 3,500 homes over five years.
“While overall housing production is strong, we know that we need to build more affordable housing to sustain truly inclusive communities and we’re just not doing that,” said Brenda Torpy of the Champlain Housing Trust. With over 2,200 homes built in the county in the last three years, only 280, or 13%, became permanently affordable. That’s well shy of the campaign’s goal of 20%.
The Building Homes Together campaign was launched in 2016 by Champlain Housing Trust, Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission and Housing Vermont, and is supported by over 100 public officials, business and nonprofit leaders. The organizations combine public education, advocacy and training in efforts to increase the amount of housing stock for people of all incomes in the County.
“The campaign has succeeded on one front, and that’s good news,” added Charlie Baker of the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, “but we still see anemic vacancy rates which demonstrate a pent-up need and an ongoing need to continue this rate of building.” The long-term vacancy rate in Chittenden County is 1.8%. Experts consider a vacancy rate between 3 and 5% to better balance the needs of renters and owners.
“We are heartened by the understanding in local communities to address the needs of low wage workers and those priced out of the market,” said Nancy Owens of Housing Vermont. “The State’s Housing Revenue Bond is adding some new affordable homes to our region already, with more on the way. Adding to and sustaining this type of investment over several years is the best way to address workers’ housing needs.”
Since the campaign launched, many initiatives to address affordability have started on the municipal level in Chittenden County communities, including active housing commissions or tasks forces in several towns or cities, adoption of additional planning tools like inclusionary zoning are being used or explored, and housing trust funds have been created or expanded by communities to encourage more affordable housing. 
More information about the campaign, including the data collected over the first three years, is available at

CHT Sells Burlington Building to Turning Point Center

Posted on Wednesday, July 31, 2019, by Chris Donnelly

The Champlain Housing Trust and Turning Point Center of Chittenden County jointly announced transfer of ownership of 179 South Winooski Avenue in downtown Burlington, a building which Turning Point Center of Chittenden County has leased for several months with the intent to buy. The purchase Tuesday for $850,000 allows for the programs and nonprofits operating in the building to continue to thrive.

The building has a rich history in providing service to the community. In 1993 several nonprofits came together with the support of the City of Burlington, state and federal agencies and hundreds of donors to create office and program space for their organizations. The Champlain Housing Trust, one of the original nonprofits, stewarded the building for this use over the years. Its facilitation of the transfer of the property to Turning Point allows for a continuation of this commitment to the community.

“We have been so excited to be here,” said Gary De Carolis, Executive Director of Turning Point Center of Chittenden County. “Being able to own this facility, at this location, is helping us achieve our mission and gives us security down the road. We very much appreciate working with the Champlain Housing Trust on this purchase.”

As a celebration of the missions of the two organizations and to mark the Champlain Housing Trust’s 35th anniversary, artist Tara Goreau has been commissioned to create a mural on the building’s south wall illustrating the community bonds that are reflected in the groups’ missions of housing and recovery. The housing trust and the Turning Point Center will be organizing volunteers – no experience needed or expected – to assist with the painting of the mural on the afternoon of Friday, August 16. Those who are interested should contact Jack Commo at 861-7399.

Turning Point Center of Chittenden County is a peer run recovery center for those in recovery from alcohol and/or drug addiction. The Center wants to thank the over 100 donors who made this dream become reality. Special recognition to the Stiller Family, The Hoehl Family Foundation and the University of Vermont Medical Center, Community Investment Fund for their significant contributions. 

Champlain Housing Trust offers affordable apartments to rent and homes to buy throughout Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties in northwest Vermont. It also owns and manages several community and commercial buildings, offers financial education and counseling programs, affordable loans and a range of other services to help residents succeed.

CHT Closes on Financing for Old North End Community Center

Posted on Thursday, April 18, 2019, by Chris Donnelly

The Champlain Housing Trust announced today that it had closed on the permanent financing for its efforts to transform the St. Joseph School into the Old North End Community Center. The $8.8 million transaction secured $2.6 million in federal tax credits by leveraging several other local funding sources.

CHT will now initiate construction and ensure that rents remain affordable for the nonprofit tenants and public uses. Just two weeks ago CHT announced a lead gift of $500,000 from Trey and Dominique Pecor. Since then, $90,000 in donations have come in, leaving just $110,000 to raise from the community to finalize the $8.8 million project.

The Community Center itself required a “community” of financing to close, including:

“TD Bank and its Community Capital Group are proud to assist Champlain Housing Trust with this very important redevelopment of the community center which provides critical services for those who need it most in Burlington,” said Phil Daniels, Market President-Commercial for Vermont, TD Bank. “This development will be a space where the community can continue to develop and thrive, and it will contribute to a larger initiative to revitalize this neighborhood and enhance its economic growth.” TD Bank’s funding assistance includes conventional commercial financing and an equity investment under the New Market Tax Credit Program closed by Jonathan Campbell, Vice President in the Community Capital Group.

Vermont Rural Ventures’ allocation of the federal New Markets Tax Credit Program leveraged almost a third of the overall project costs. “We wanted to invest in the Old North End Community Center because the programs strengthen and support low income people in the community where they live,” said Nancy Owens, President of Vermont Rural Ventures, a subsidiary of Housing Vermont.

The Old North End Community Center is home to a wide range of programs offered by several nonprofits and the City of Burlington. The school closed in 2010 and when it was going to go on the market, existing nonprofit tenants asked the Housing Trust to step in and purchase the building to prevent the displacement of their programs. The addition of the Burlington Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Department as a tenant solidified the prospects of a fully occupied community center in the heart of Burlington.

“The City of Burlington is fully committed to the Center, as demonstrated by both its lease and Community Development Block Grant program allocations,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “Congratulations and appreciation goes out to all the partners that have come together to move this transformational and challenging project along.”

“The Vermont Community Loan Fund is pleased to play a role in this dynamic project that will lift up the lives of so many Vermonters, from young to old, from long-time resident to New Americans,” said Will Belongia, Executive Director of the loan fund. VCLF also provided initial financing for the acquisition of the school by CHT in 2017.

The Vermont Community Foundation made an early investment as well to help with the purchase and make accessibility modifications to the building by installing an elevator. Dan Smith, CEO, added, “Projects like this provides so much more than just programs. They provide a place to connect, a place to belong. The Foundation has been elevating our focus on mission investing in Vermont and this investment reflects our core values and our vision for Vermont communities.”

With significant upgrades to heating, cooling and electrical systems, there were significant grants and investments from the energy sector. Commons Energy made a $500,000 loan and provided technical assistance to facilitate these upgrades. “This old, historic building is beautiful and teeming with activity. It’s also an excellent example of how we can invest in better systems that not only address climate change but will make the space more comfortable – and more affordable – for the users and owners,” said Matt Dooley of Commons Energy.

Work is underway, coordinated by J.A. Morrissey, Inc with tenants managing amongst the construction.

“With the closing behind us, we turn to managing the construction and asking the community to support this amazing project to help us meet our fundraising goal,” said Brenda Torpy, CEO of the Trust. “We are so thankful to have so many partners and so many donors get us to this point.”

To find out more, and to find out how to contribute, visit

Pecor Family makes $500,000 gift to Old North End Community Center Campaign

Posted on Friday, April 05, 2019, by Chris Donnelly

A $500,000 gift has been pledged by Trey & Dominique Pecor to the Old North End Community Center Campaign, campaign committee Chair Peter Clavelle announced today.

“This is a very significant pledge of support – the largest in the campaign. This generosity will support generations of people from Burlington and beyond gain access to programs that build community and support our basic needs,” said Clavelle, a volunteer leading the campaign.


The Champlain Housing Trust purchased the former St. Joseph School on Allen Street in Burlington to create Old North End Community Center in July, 2017. The organization has secured funding to make initial improvements to the building – such as adding an elevator to make it accessible, the installation of a new commercial kitchen and expanded parking – while seeking permanent financing and capital campaign contributions to make more significant renovations to the Center.

“For me, supporting such a great community building was a no-brainer,” explained Trey and Dominique Pecor in a statement. “Our family has enjoyed the benefits of this City and region immensely and for the two of us it’s really a privilege to be in a position to give back in this way.”

With the pledge from the Pecors, the campaign has raised $2 million and is turning to the community to raise the last $200,000. The gym in the center of the building will be named “The Pecor Family Gymnasium and Performance Hall.”

“The Old North End Community Center is a wonderful new resource for the Old North End and the entire city. I have believed in this project from the start, and I am excited to see the next phase in its evolution. Thank you to Trey and Dominique for giving a critical boost to this community effort,” Mayor Miro Weinberger added.

While the building is solid, CHT must invest in upgrading heating and cooling, new wiring, windows, and water systems, including sprinklers. The building serves an estimated 4,000 people a year through the programs of the tenants including The Family Room, Robin’s Nest Children’s Center, AALV and the Burlington Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Department – as well as a variety of community events in the building. The Parks Department also runs senior center activities and leases space to others such as Very Merry Theatre and the City and Lake Semester program.

“We now turn our sights to raising the remaining $200,000 and closing on our permanent financing,” added Brenda Torpy, CHT’s CEO. “I thank Trey and Dominique, the many other donors that have already supported this vision, and all the volunteers that have made gifts and given their time thus far. The community has been so generous so far, and I know they’ll be there with us to finish up the campaign for such a great community resource.”

For more information about giving, call Chris Donnelly at the Housing Trust at 861-7305.

CHT Response to Prolonged Government Shutdown

Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2019, by Chris Donnelly

We’ve received a few inquiries about how the prolonged federal government shutdown is affecting us and our residents. Our tenants should know that their tenancy is NOT AT RISK due to the shutdown. Payments from HUD or USDA-Rural Development may be delayed in the near future if the shutdown continues; if this happens CHT and our properties may experience cash flow challenges but we will work through them as best we can.
To be clear: No tenants will be evicted if HUD or any other federal agency fails to live up to the terms of our contract with the government for rental subsidy. All other residents not receiving subsidy, however, are expected to pay as normal, and tenants receiving subsidy should still pay their portion of their rent.
There may be other impacts, of course, to the government shutdown. The State of Vermont took steps to extend SNAP benefits through February. Social Security benefits are not affected so residents will still receive those payments.
If there are CHT residents who are furloughed employees of the federal government, please call us to verify your employment status and we will work out a plan with you to help you through this difficult time. 
If you need additional assistance meeting your basic needs, please try Vermont 211 at
Lastly, we are in contact with our Congressional delegation to ensure they understand the impacts of the shutdown so they can bring Vermonter’s experience to their colleagues in Washington. If you wish to share your story, please be in touch with your property manager.

Brenda Torpy to Present at The Sanders Institute Gathering

Posted on Monday, November 26, 2018, by Chris Donnelly

The Sanders Institute’s inaugural conference, The Sanders Institute Gathering, is to be held in Burlington from Thursday, November 29 through Saturday, December 1, with an array of speakers coming from both the national and international progressive community. CHT’s Brenda Torpy will be a featured speaker on housing policy during Saturday’s session.

“I am thrilled to be invited to speak about the ways in which we can move towards a society that makes access to housing a right of all citizens, and how we’ve pioneered permanently affordable housing here at Champlain Housing Trust and in Vermont,” said Torpy.

Founded in 2017 on the belief that a vital democracy requires an informed electorate, civil discourse and bold ideas, the Sanders Institute focuses on progressive solutions to economic, environmental, racial and social justice issues.

David Driscoll, Co-Founder & Executive Director of the young, non-partisan think tank, said that the event will host “elected officials, organizers, educators, economists, writers, artists and emerging leaders from a full spectrum of experience and expertise.”

The conference will include leaders from a variety of sectors:

  • Mayors Carmen Yulin Cruz (San Juan, Puerto Rico), Bill deBlasio (New York, NY), Ada Colau (Barcelona, Spain) and Michael Tubbs (Stockton, CA) will be on a Mayor’s Roundtable.
  • Labor leaders such as UE President Peter Knowlton, APWU President Mark Dimondstein, NNU Co-President Jean Ross and former NNU Executive Director RoseAnn Demoro will be speaking.
  • Yanis Varoufakis (former Finance Minister of Greece), Nikki Ashton (Member of Canadian Parliament), Bernie Sanders (Vermont Senator), David McWilliams (Irish author/economist) and others will discuss international cooperation and the need for a Progressive International movement.

Other speakers include well-known names like Danny Glover, Stephanie Kelton, Shaun King, Naomi Klein, Ben Jealous, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Winona LaDuke, Bill McKibben, Nina Turner, Simon Sinek, Cenk Uygar and James Zogby. Researchers and policy development experts such as Jane Kim, Robert Pollin, Chirlane McCray, Michael Weinstein, Radhika Balakrishnan, Matt Nelson, Joseph Geevargese, Karin Ryan, Jo Beardsmore, Diane Archer, Ron Goldfarb and John Davis and many more will be part of the program – which includes fifteen of the Institute’s eighteen fellows.

More information on the conference and speakers can be found at

Jane Sanders, Co-Founder & Fellow, said “the selection of topics and speakers will ensure that the conference is insightful and relevant, as we discuss some of our nation’s most pressing issues and share innovative solutions. Medicare for All, the climate crisis, housing issues, criminal justice, workers’ rights, international cooperation, civil rights and austerity in Puerto Rico are some of the issues that will be addressed.”

“Social justice, economic justice and human dignity will be focuses threaded throughout the conference,” said Driscoll, concluding, “The core intent of The Sanders Institute Gathering is to share replicable policies, develop actionable steps, establish ongoing networks and articulate a progressive vision.”

The McClure Torpy Building

Posted on Tuesday, October 23, 2018, by Chris Donnelly

The McClure family is well known to those of us who live in the Burlington area. You can see examples of their generosity sprinkled about town in support of causes that support children and seniors, improved health, the natural environment, learning and a whole host of services that enrich our community. The Champlain Housing Trust’s work in affordable housing, as well as our efforts to ensure that vital community services have a home, has been buoyed by Lois and the McClure family over the years.

In the 1990s, five nonprofits came together to collectively raise money to create our own homes. This resulted in the acquisition and rehab of three buildings in Burlington: The Vermont Legal Aid and Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf buildings on North Winooski Avenue, and a building at 179 South Winooski Avenue that originally housed COTS, the Chittenden County Court Diversion Program, and Burlington Community Land Trust – now CHT. The McClures made a $1 million gift to that campaign, and their generosity was recognized at 179 South Winooski as the “J. Warren and Lois H. McClure Community Resource Center.”

That building served the nonprofits for many years – and launched these groups into bigger accomplishments and new homes. CHT retains ownership of the building, but it has been leased the Turning Point Center and is used as a seasonal warming shelter and other nonprofit space. Our hope is to, at some point in the near future, relinquish ownership of the building to them. But we didn’t want to leave behind our connection to the McClures.

Beyond the $1 million gift Lois and Mac made for those buildings, Lois and her family’s generosity to CHT over the years has literally helped thousands of people access affordable housing. A second $1 million gift initiated an endowment that will support our work for generations to come. When we approached her and her daughter Barbara to ask their permission to dedicate our headquarters in recognition of all that this giving has accomplished, there was no hesitation – “Of course,” they said.

But – and there was a “but” – they had one request. They wanted to highlight that giving is just one component of success, and that strong relationships, innovative organizations and inspirational leaders also count. That’s why they insisted that the building not just bear the McClure name, but also that of Lois’ longtime friend, CHT’s Brenda Torpy.

We’ve dedicated the headquarters the “McClure Torpy Building” to honor this friendship and partnership, one which has given hope and opportunity to so many in the community. Our deepest thanks and admiration to Lois, her daughter Barbara and son Jim, and the rest of the McClure family.