News

Harbor Place Guests Ruled Members of the General Public

Posted on Thursday, December 01, 2016, by Chris Donnelly

The Shelburne Development Review Board, on a 4-2 vote, reaffirmed that Harbor Place, CHT’s motel serving people who are in crisis or who are experiencing homelessness, complies with the Town’s Zoning Bylaws. Town officials issued a Notice of Violation in October, 2015 and CHT appealed the Town’s claim.

Central to the dispute was whether or not people who access public benefits, services from social service agencies or care from the UVM Medical Center were members of the general public. The bylaws stipulate that hotels and motels must make rooms available to members of the general public. The Shelburne DRB agreed with CHT’s assertion that they were, writing:

"There is no question that Harbor Place's clientele consists of members of the general public who are in need of an affordable place to stay on a temporary basis while looking for permanent housing or recuperating from a medical condition or disability.  CHT's decision to pursue a particular market, a subset of the general public, does not mean that Harbor Place fails or refuses to offer transient lodging accommodations to the general public.

…The Bylaws require that motels offer transient lodging accommodations to the general public, without unlawful discrimination, but do not prevent motels from appealing to particular segments of the general public for business, particularly if the hotel/motel industry underserves that segment of the general public."


Community Meeting Announced on Changes at St. Joseph's School

Posted on Monday, November 21, 2016, by Chris Donnelly

CHT has reached an agreement with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington to lease and then purchase the St. Joseph’s School on Allen Street in Burlington’s Old North End. The former Catholic School has been home to Robin’s Nest Children Center, Association of Africans Living in Vermont, and the Janet S. Munt Family Room providing needed services to the community. The purchase will allow these programs to continue in the building along with a new tenant, the City of Burlington’s Parks & Recreation Department.

CHT will host a meeting at the school (20 Allen Street) on November 30 to let the community know about the plans and solicit feedback. The meeting will begin at 5:30 with pizza, with a presentation at 6pm. Old North End residents are encouraged to attend. For more information or to request interpretive services, contact Chris Donnelly.


CHT Exceeds Governor’s Goal for Housing People Experiencing Homelessness

Posted on Thursday, September 15, 2016, by Chris Donnelly

The Champlain Housing Trust announced today it had exceeded a benchmark set by Governor Shumlin to house more people who are without a home. In April, 2016 the Governor signed an Executive Order which “calls for owners of housing that receive state funds to make available at least 15 percent of their portfolio of housing units to Vermonters experiencing homelessness.” The Housing Trust identified 16 percent of the residents of its rental portfolio fitting the criteria under the Order.

“While we have made tremendous strides over the last few years resulting in a 28% decline in homelessness in Vermont, there still are over 1,100 Vermonters who are homeless,” said Michael Monte, COO/CFO of the Champlain Housing Trust and a member of the Governor’s Council on Pathways from Poverty. “We have met the target, but we know that there’s more to do.”

The Housing Trust counted 255 formerly homeless households in the 1,640 apartments in its portfolio that qualified under the definition put forth by the Shumlin Administration. In just the last year, 85 of these individuals moved into their new home.

“This progress is the work of collaboration amongst many partners and organizations,” Monte added. “The focused work of the Chittenden Homeless Alliance is the primary reason we’re seeing good results, but more resources are needed to reach our goal of making homelessness both rare and brief.”

Additional initiatives are underway. These include are an agreement with the Burlington Housing Authority to house 42 formerly homeless individuals with housing vouchers and services, as well as a partnership with the UVM Medical Center to provide housing with services for frequent users of the emergency department or individuals in hospital beds with no other safe place to go.

Not included in the count are ongoing efforts by Champlain Housing Trust that address emergency needs of Vermonters, including providing a building for a warming shelter in Burlington and at Harbor Place, a motel in Shelburne. 

Ending Chronic Homelessness

Posted on Tuesday, July 12, 2016, by Chris Donnelly


Last year the Champlain Housing Trust made a commitment to end chronic homelessness in our region. This commitment was grounded in collaboration – working with a variety of partners to solve what has seemed an intractable problem. 

Collectively, we are making good progress, and there's a video below that describes some of this work, or you can click here to go straight to YouTube and see it.

Chronic homelessness declined 31% last year. Already this year, working with the Burlington Housing Authority and others, another 40 individuals or families experiencing homelessness moved into one of CHT's affordable apartments. 

But there’s more to be done. Harbor Place, the motel we've been running since 2013, still provides needed accommodations and services every night to dozens of people who have no other place to turn.

For taxpayers, homelessness is expensive: a study done in San Francisco showed it costs $80,000 each year in a myriad of programs to serve people who are homeless in that city. Providing housing with services costs 56% less – and results in increased stability, dignity and opportunity. 

Out of our efforts, new partnerships have evolved that have similarly shown immediate results, and promise lasting impact. The UVM Medical Center looked at data from the 95 patients they discharged to Harbor Place and documented a savings of almost $1 million in health care costs from these guests, along with a 42% reduction in Emergency Department visits and 68% fewer inpatient admissions. If we can demonstrate this type of result from a motel, we're certain that permanent housing will have even more of an impact. 

Our work with Community Health Centers of Burlington resulted in creating Beacon Apartments in South Burlington, a former motel CHT acquired and converted to 19 apartments for people who have been chronically homeless and with medical vulnerabilities. In the video below, you’ll meet John Graves, a Beacon Apartment resident – and former guest at Harbor Place, who speaks about how he now has a place to store his belongings and can aspire to get work. Safe Harbor provides case management with funding from the UVM Medical Center and Vermont Community Foundation.

Most of us feel compassion for those in need. Many agree there's a moral imperative to help. Even if we ignore these motivations, it's clear new approaches to addressing homelessness are needed. We've been spending more to keep people homeless than it costs to provide a home. 

More than hope, we have confidence. With the partnerships and collaboration underway, tackling big problems like ending chronic homelessness don’t seem so insurmountable anymore.


Coalition Launched to Increase Production of Housing

Posted on Monday, June 27, 2016, by Chris Donnelly

Dozens of Chittenden County leaders in the fields of housing, business, local and state government, and social services announced this morning a new campaign to increase the production of housing and setting a target of 3,500 new homes created in the next five years.

The new coalition, called Building Homes Together, was formed by the Champlain Housing Trust, Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission and Housing Vermont and released an initial list of nearly 100 community leaders supporting the effort. Several leaders shared words of support.

“Working together we will accomplish this goal,” said Brenda Torpy, CEO of Champlain Housing Trust. “For the sake of our communities, our workers and local economy, we will educate and advocate together for more housing.”

The housing shortage in Chittenden County has been well noted with unhealthy vacancy rates and high rents,” added Charlie Baker, Executive Director of the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission. “Employers can’t find workers, and workers themselves spend more time in commutes and with a higher percentage of their paychecks on housing costs.”

Twenty percent of the 3,500 goal are targeted to be developed by nonprofit housing organizations. The remainder by private developers.

“This step-up in production will not just provide new homes and infrastructure for communities, it’ll be a boost to the economy and contribute to the tax base. Building homes together is a big win for all of us in Chittenden County,” said Nancy Owens, President of Housing Vermont.

The campaign will provide up-to-date data to the community on the need for and benefits of new housing, build cross-sector and public support for housing development, increasing access to capital, and supporting municipalities.

Individuals, businesses or organizations that wish to sign on and participate in the campaign are encouraged to by sending an email to Chris Donnelly at the Champlain Housing Trust. 

Building Homes Together Infographic

List of supporters (as of June 26, 2016)

What others are saying about Building Homes Together


CHT wins national Renewal Award

Posted on Tuesday, January 26, 2016, by Chris Donnelly

Great news! The Champlain Housing Trust's shared equity homeownership program was one of six selected by Allstate and Atlantic Media, publishers of Atlantic Monthly and the National Journal, recognized with a Renewal Award at an event in Des Moines, Iowa Tuesday. For the past year, Atlantic Media sought out "prag­mat­ic prob­lem solv­ers from among loc­al gov­ern­ment, non­profit groups, small busi­nesses and or­din­ary cit­izens," and ultimately chose CHT as one of the six awardees. We are thrilled to be selected.

CHT's homeownership program provides help in the form of down payment assistance to people priced out of the market. Homeowners get their own mortgage and in exchange for the initial subsidy, they agree to share a portion of the market appreciation of their home when they decide to sell. This sharing keeps the home affordable for another buyer, but also allows owners to build equity from the pay down of their mortgage and a piece of market appreciation. The original subsidy has primarily come from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. Studies have shown that two-thirds of owners go on to buy in the market, and are 10 times less likely to fall into foreclosure.

“We are very thankful that Atlantic Media and Allstate selected Champlain Housing Trust’s shared equity homeownership program for recognition with a Renewal Award," said Brenda Torpy, chief executive officer of CHT. "Our program creates sustainable homeownership for low and moderate income families, leading to both security and opportunity for people who may have remained renters their whole lives. In this country, homeownership is still the primary way most folks build up assets. Our program has demonstrated success – often by breaking generational cycles of poverty – by giving people a shot at reaching the American Dream.”

There are almost 570 homes in CHT's shared equity portfolio, the largest in the country. In February, CHT anticipates the 1,000th purchase of one of our homes.

CHT Purchases Ethan Allen Apartments from UVM

Posted on Thursday, January 21, 2016, by Chris Donnelly

The Champlain Housing Trust announced today that it has purchased the Ethan Allen Apartments in Essex from the University of Vermont. The property, with 31 apartments in 11 buildings, was sold for $3.9 million.

“We are excited to acquire this property, and appreciate UVM’s desire to work with us to eventually create more affordable homeownership opportunity,” said Michael Monte, chief operating and financial officer for CHT.

The organization will offer existing tenants an opportunity to sign a new lease in June. Eventually, 19 of the 31 apartments will slowly be converted to affordable homeownership through CHT’s shared equity program.

The remaining twelve apartments will remain for rent, and will provide future flexibility for CHT to address affordable housing needs for people in need.

"Champlain Housing Trust have been ideal partners to work with on the sale of Ethan Allen Apartments,” said Annie Stevens, Vice Provost for Student Affairs at UVM. “We know that Champlain Housing Trust will be excellent stewards of this property and that they are committed to providing a smooth transition for the student residents and their families as well as assistance for their ongoing affordable housing needs.”

CHT is receiving financing for the purchase through Community Housing Capital, a national Community Development Financial Institution which serves as a direct lender to members of the NeighborWorks America network, like CHT. Most recently, Community Housing Capital financed a similar rental-to-homeownership initiative of CHT’s in Burlington’s south end. The university is also financing a portion of the sale.

More than a simple gift of bread

Posted on Tuesday, November 17, 2015, by Chris Donnelly

Earlier this week 19 loaves of homemade bread arrived at Harbor Place, CHT’s temporary, emergency housing motel in Shelburne. The bread was donated by 4th and 5th grade students of the Renaissance School, made possible through an innovative grant making program of King Arthur Flour called Learn Bake Share. The company donated all the ingredients, and the school incorporated bread-making into their math, science and reading curriculum. 

Students then brought enough ingredients home to bake two loaves – one for their family, and one that they shared with our guests at Harbor Place. "I felt good because I was doing something for a good cause," said one of the kids in the class.

"What a great project," one parent added. "(Our son) was so excited and felt empowered to teach us how to make bread. It was such a great way to spend time as a family."

While the gift of the bread is so generous by itself, all of us at CHT appreciate knowing that the bread was made by families this past weekend with compassion in mind. That makes us even more thankful.

CHT a finalist for a Renewal Award

Posted on Saturday, October 24, 2015, by Chris Donnelly

The Champlain Housing Trust's award winning shared equity homeownership program continues to get noticed. This time, CHT's program is a finalist in the inaugural Renewal Awards, which seek to recognize innovative solutions to American communities' pressing challenges. Presented by Atlantic Media and Allstate, the Renewal Awards will be presented to six organizations at the National Summit on Local Innovation in Des Moines, Iowa next January. Each winner will receive a $10,000 award, plus recognition at the summit. As part of the selection process, online voting is available until November 2 -- we encourage people to vote for the Champlain Housing Trust to help share with America what success we've had here building a stock of permanently affordable homes.

CHT's shared equity program, launched in 1984 under then-Mayor Bernie Sanders, has been long seen as a sustainable, innovative approach to affordable homeownership. A winner of the United Nations World Habitat Award in 2008 and a grantee through the Social Innovation Fund, shared equity homeownership, where buyers of limited means share market appreciation when they sell to keep homes affordable, is increasingly being seen as a way to better invest limited public funds to help people attain the American Dream. 

Bright Street Co-op Update

Posted on Tuesday, September 22, 2015, by Jonathan Shenton

A New Housing Option in the Old North End.


Update

We are moving full steam ahead on creating a new, 40-unit housing cooperative on Bright Street. Construction has begun, and our Selection Committee (members of other housing co-ops) is starting to interview applicants.

The way to apply is to attend an orientation and then submit an application; you can find the next orientation dates and register for one via our calendar. Applicants will be considered in date order.

As well as the autonomy, community and security that all co-ops offer, the Bright Street Co-op will provide underground parking, covered bike parking, a community room, and laundry facilities on-site. We are also working with the city to try to create a community garden right next to the co-op.

What is a housing cooperative?

In a housing co-op “the members are the landlord.” It is a business that the members own and run together, doing the work a landlord would do in a rental.

The shared control and responsibility makes co-ops different from either renting or owning your own home. Financially a co-op is more like renting, but the members’ control and responsibility lead to an ‘ownership attitude’ without the financial commitment of buying a home.

Cooperative housing is not for everyone. As an intentional community it is ideal for people with the desire and skills to work with their neighbors and to help create a stable community.

The co-op will feature:

  • Forty apartments and townhomes 
  • A vibrant mix of household sizes and incomes
  • New, energy-efficient construction 
  • Self-management that brings a sense of community and security
  • Underground parking, laundry room, community room, elevator
  • Shared outdoor space

Time frame

  • Construction started in August, 2015; we expect to open in the fall of 2016. 
  • We are taking applications now.

Apartment sizes and approximate monthly charges (heat included):

Thirteen 1BR apartments in the range of $675 to $975/month
Twenty-one 2BR apartments in the range of $780 to $1,250/month
Five 3BR apartments in the range of $975 to $1,350/month
One 4BR apartment in the range of $1,300 to $1,450/month

Interested? To learn more and apply, come to a one-hour Orientation to Cooperatives. 
Register online or with Julia Curry at jcurry@getahome.org or (802) 861-7378.