News

Building Homes Together Campaign Releases Results of First Two Years

Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2018, by Chris Donnelly

Chittenden County housing leaders, joined by Congressman Peter Welch, Vermont Speaker Mitzi Johnson and Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, announced today that one of two housing production goals was being met for the county, indicating mixed results for the second year in a row. The Building Homes Together campaign, supported by over 100 local and state leaders, stayed on pace to create 3,500 new homes over five years but is falling short of a target of 700 new permanently affordable homes by the end of 2020.

“Every Vermonter should have the peace of mind that comes with a safe and affordable home. The Building Homes Together campaign has brought us a few steps closer to that goal. Today, we celebrate its success and recommit to the work ahead of us,” Congressman Peter Welch told the assembled crowd.

“Over the first two years of this five year campaign we’ve seen an uptick in housing production with over 1,600 net new homes added to our housing stock,” explained Charlie Baker, Executive Director of the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, one of the three groups coordinating the campaign. “The homes are being absorbed by the market and it is clear to us that we must continue to build at this pace or greater to satisfy the housing needs of the region.”

Vacancy rates remain below what is viewed as a healthy market, with the latest report pegging vacancy at 1.7% in July, 2018. Market analysts usually look for a rate closer to 5%.

While the overall construction goals being met demonstrate a strong housing market, the inability to meet the affordable targets concerns many. “There’s a tremendous, pent up need for housing that is affordable to low-income individuals and families,” said Brenda Torpy, CEO of Champlain Housing Trust, another leader in the campaign. “We need to increase the affordable production if we want communities that are inclusive to all.” There have been 191 permanently affordable homes created over the past two years – well shy of 140 per year needed to reach 700 in five years.

Representative Mitzi Johnson, Speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives, added, “Every Vermonter deserves the opportunity of a home they can afford. A stable home is critical for children to learn, for workers to hold down jobs, for people to succeed in addiction recovery, and to build strong, healthy communities. We’re making good progress through such efforts as the Housing for All bond passed by the Legislature last year. But we can’t rest – we have much more work ahead to ensure all Vermonters have access to safe, affordable housing.”

“The lack of housing supply remains our largest regional challenge. Robust housing growth in the cities and towns of Chittenden County strengthens our schools, makes us more equitable, and reduces our climate impact by allowing people to live closer to neighbors, services, and workplaces rather than farther out into Vermont's hills and pastures,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “If we are serious about making housing a human right, we must continue to work to break down the barriers to building new and affordable housing.”

The overall production numbers include all new apartments, condominiums, single family homes, and accessory dwellings that received their certificate of occupancy in 2016 or 2017. Homes that have been demolished – and there were nearly 100 in 2017 – were subtracted from the total. Not included in the count was the impact of student housing. Over this period, the University of Vermont demolished two dormitories (391 beds), but replaced them with a new dorm (695 beds) for a net gain of on campus housing.

Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe reflected back over the last couple of years. “We set an ambitious new housing target when we got together for the kick off of this initiative. We’ve made good headway, and the Senate is committed to keeping up the momentum. As someone with a housing development background I know how many hurdles any housing project needs to get over. So the progress we’ve all made together is worth celebrating.”

Nancy Owens, President of Housing Vermont, the third organization leading the Building Homes Together campaign, expressed some hope for the future. “The impact of Vermont’s $37 million Housing for All revenue bond will soon start to be felt. New senior housing is wrapping up in South Burlington, and CHT and Housing Vermont are under construction with 136 new apartments that will be completed in 2019. But,” she cautioned, “It’s still not enough.

The campaign called for increased investment through local trust funds at the community level and full funding of state sources like the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, offered support for zoning changes in communities that want to address the shortage of housing, and said that planning for a second housing bond – the original proposal by the groups included a $70 million version – should begin now as the benefits and needs are clear.

The Building Homes Together campaign was initiated by the Champlain Housing Trust, Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission and Housing Vermont in 2016. The campaign’s goal is to increase the production of housing, setting a target of 3,500 new homes created over next five years, with 700 of them permanently affordable. Over 100 local and state officials signed on to the campaign. More information can be found at http://www.ecosproject.com/building-homes-together/.

Construction Underway for Garden Apartments

Posted on Wednesday, September 19, 2018, by Chris Donnelly

City and State leaders used ceremonial shovels to mark the beginning of construction of 60 new apartments in South Burlington as part of a long-planned new City Center. On hand were South Burlington City Council President Helen Riehle and Senator Tim Ashe, President of the Vermont Senate.

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

“This is just the latest in a number of celebrations here in South Burlington’s new City Center marking our progress,” said City Council President Helen Riehle. “We’ll keep getting together to celebrate 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 Vermont’s recently passed Housing for All bond. Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, a leader in the effort to pass the $37 million bond, said, “This is exactly what we envisioned when we committed to investing in communities, in places to live for low and moderate income people, and our economy. Seeing this new housing get underway and spurring additional economic development is exactly what Vermont and Chittenden County needs right now.”

The apartments will be built at the corner of Market Street, which is also under construction, 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 established one of only a handful of affordable housing trust funds in the State, and has contributed $75,000 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.

“It really does take multiple partners and institutions to pull together, agree on a common vision and see it to the point where we can get under construction,” said Nancy Owens, President of Housing Vermont. “We’re excited to come back next fall and welcome people moving in.”

The sixty apartments will be a mixture of sizes, with an understanding of the needs of the regions. There will be 26 one-bedroom, 20 two-bedroom, 11 three-bedroom, and three four-bedroom apartments. Occupancy is expected in the fall/early winter of 2019. For more information on renting, visit the Champlain Housing Trust website at www.getahome.org.




CHT Buys Dorset Commons in South Burlington

Posted on Wednesday, August 15, 2018, by Chris Donnelly

The Champlain Housing Trust announced today that it had acquired a 15-acre property with 105 apartments on Dorset Street in South Burlington. Dorset Commons, which was originally built in the late 1970s, was sold by Catic Exchange.

“Across Chittenden County, rents continue to rise and vacancy rates remain very low,” said Michael Monte, Chief Operating and Financial Officer at the housing trust. “Purchasing Dorset Commons preserves this stock of housing as affordable for the tenants who live there.”

A number of properties over the past several years have been demolished and redeveloped, or seen rents rise beyond what people could afford, leading to displacement of tenants.

“While the increased construction in Chittenden County is, in general, a good thing, there continues to be a lack of housing for low and moderate income individuals and families. We felt it necessary to step in and save this property,” added Monte.

Properties such as Dorset Commons are sometimes referred to as “naturally occurring affordable housing” since there were no public funds invested in constructing the development or restrictions on rent or incomes of tenants. The average rent for a two-bedroom at Dorset Commons is currently $1,200 – Fair Market Rent in the region is $1,442.

All the current tenants will have their leases honored and rent kept stable. New mangers and maintenance staff will be onsite to introduce themselves Wednesday and answer questions. As with all tenants of the housing trust, Dorset Commons’ residents will automatically become members of the organization giving them access to free credit counseling and homebuyer education classes. Members also are invited to a summer picnic each year, and an annual meeting and awards dinner to elect the board of directors.

Bank financing was provided by TD Bank, N.A. In order to keep the rents moderately affordable, financing was also provided by the State of Vermont Treasurer’s Office Local Investment Program, the Vermont Community Foundation, and the Sellers, with an equity grant provided by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board

“All Vermonters deserve safe and affordable housing options,” said Vermont Treasurer Beth Pearce. “The Treasurer’s Office is committed to working with our partners, like Champlain Housing Trust, to identify capital gaps and leverage State dollars to fill the need and improve Vermonters’ quality of life.”

The Champlain Housing Trust has nearly 3,000 homes under its stewardship, including approximately 2,300 apartments. CHT serves the communities of Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties.

KeyBank Makes Major Grant to Help End Chronic Homelessness

Posted on Tuesday, June 26, 2018, by Chris Donnelly

CHT announced today a three-year $240,000 commitment from KeyBank Foundation to support our goal of eliminating chronic homelessness in Chittenden County. The grant will be used to hire a social worker to help homeless individuals and families attain access to permanent housing, as well as provide ongoing support and services to help them retain housing.

“KeyBank’s recognition that this bold goal is achievable demonstrates what a committed community partner they are,” said Brenda Torpy, CEO of the Champlain Housing Trust. “In collaboration with many partners, we’ve made tremendous progress over the past few years. With this infusion of funds we will eliminate chronic homelessness in Chittenden County.”

A point-in-time survey done in January 2015 identified 101 individuals as “chronically homeless” in the county. Collaboration and coordination among various agencies reduced that number to 35 individuals by January 2018.  Currently, there are approximately 330 formerly homeless residents in CHT apartments – including 76 new residents in the past year. “Support for people after they’ve moved into their new apartment has been as critical as housing them in the first place,” commented Torpy.

“We are thrilled to provide needed funding to Champlain Housing Trust at a critical juncture in their efforts to end chronic homelessness,” said KeyBank Market President Donald Baker. “They have proven to be an effective leader in this campaign, and we are happy to partner with them as they continue to improve the lives of so many in our community.”

The $240,000 grant is the largest investment KeyBank Foundation has made to the Burlington community in recent years. It will be paid out over three years beginning in the summer of 2018. The Champlain Housing Trust intends to advertise for and hire the new staff shortly, and will continue to work with the Chittenden County Homeless Alliance to achieve this goal.

KeyBank representatives commit to $240,000 in funding to Champlain Housing Trust.  From left: Brigitte Ritchie, KeyBank Corporate Responsibility Officer, New England Region; Donald Baker, KeyBank Vermont Market President; Margaret Bozik, Champlain Housing Trust Director of Asset Management and Special Initiatives and co-chair, Chittenden County Homeless Alliance; Brenda Torpy, Champlain Housing Trust CEO.


Mixed Results in first year of Building Homes Campaign

Posted on Wednesday, September 27, 2017, by Chris Donnelly

Governor Phil Scott joined municipal officials, nonprofit leaders, lawmakers and housing developers Wednesday to applaud progress toward meeting residential building targets in Chittenden County, while acknowledging that more needs to be done to increase the number of affordable apartments and for-sale homes available to working people.

The Building Homes Together (BHT) campaign, launched by the Champlain Housing Trust, Housing Vermont and the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission in 2016, set a target of 3,500 new homes to be constructed over five years, with 20% of them being permanently affordable. The campaign goals are supported by over 100 community leaders and public officials.

In 2016, Chittenden County saw a net increase of 916 new homes including accessory dwellings, assisted living apartments, apartments and homes for sale. This is nearly twice the average annual production of homes during the past five years. Despite this increase, there were only 69 new affordable homes added in 2016, or 8% of the total.

“The construction of new homes is an important part of our efforts to increase availability of affordable housing statewide, and is great for our economy, employers and citizens. I am pleased to see progress made in Chittenden County, but we have more work to do here and across Vermont,” said Governor Phil Scott. “This data illustrates our continued need for more moderately priced homes to ensure Chittenden County is affordable for low and middle-income Vermonters. I believe the $35 million Housing for All bond I proposed, and the legislature passed, this year will help us make more progress in Chittenden County, and across the state.”

The BHT campaign uses certificate of occupancy data collected directly from municipalities as the basis for the reported numbers. Looking ahead, it appears there will be approximately 360 new rentals added to the market in 2017 with 52 of them affordable. There are no accurate data available to project the number of new homes for sale that will be occupied in 2017.

In 2018, the first affordable homes will be built using the innovative bond funding authorized by the Legislature this year. Nonprofit organizations described willingness to build over 300 affordable homes almost immediately.

“The data show us that, yes, there has been a building boom in Chittenden County this year,” said Charlie Baker, Executive Director of the CCRPC. “However, the July vacancy rate of 2.5% is still lower than we’d like to see for a healthy housing market. Rents also continue to rise at almost 4% a year.”

“There’s an imbalance in the market. We really need an influx of capital if we are truly going to make Chittenden County more affordable,” added Nancy Owens, President of Housing Vermont.

“We get more than ten applications for every available apartment,” said Brenda Torpy of the Champlain Housing Trust. “If we are going to house our workforce or eliminate homelessness and protect the most vulnerable, the time is now to invest.”

The BHT campaign held their announcement on Market Street in South Burlington, site of the long-planned City Center. Multiple buildings are planned by developer Snyder Homes over the next several years. The first to be built is Allard House, senior housing that will be owned and managed by Cathedral Square. Ground breaking is expected in the next two weeks.

For more information on Building Homes Together, or to sign on to the campaign, please visit: http://www.ecosproject.com/building-homes-together/ or contact Chris Donnelly: chris@champlainhousingtrust.org or (802) 310-0623.

What other officials are saying about the progress and mission of the Building Homes Together campaign:

Vermont Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe

“It takes many strategies over many years to make progress on the big stuff like our chronic housing shortage. Several years ago, Ginny Lyons and I worked hard with the South Burlington City team to enable the creation of South Burlington's TIF district. We applaud them for making the vision a reality. Despite criticism from some partisan groups, the Legislature maintained funding for the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board when it was under threat, steadily expanded the Downtown and Village Credit program, funded an innovative down payment assistance program at VHFA, and so much more. Without this foundation in place, the goal of 3,500 new homes would be a pipe dream. It’s important to recognize the critical role public investment plays in meeting community needs.”

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger

“The road to greater housing affordability and remaining an equitable, diverse community requires both increased housing opportunities for our most vulnerable and getting our land use policies right to encourage much greater production of new homes overall. Burlington is committed to this dual strategy and is grateful for its partnership with the Building Homes Together coalition pushing for the same solutions countywide. With the passage of last year’s Housing For All bond, major projects underway throughout the county, and growing awareness of the importance of increasing Chittenden County homes, this crucial effort has exciting momentum.”

Agreement reached on affordable homeownership at Cambrian Rise

Posted on Tuesday, September 05, 2017, by Chris Donnelly

The Champlain Housing Trust and Eric Farrell announced today that an agreement has been reached on the development of 30 affordable condominiums on the former Burlington College land now known as Cambrian Rise. This will be the first of what is expected to be a two phase project.

The agreement stipulates a purchase price of the 30 condominiums of $6.3 million. The sale price is discounted from estimated market value of $8.5 million due to Burlington’s Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance, and is dependent on CHT securing funds to help finance the purchase. Some of the funding is budgeted to come from the proceeds of the affordable housing bond recently enacted by the Vermont Legislature. An application is pending at the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board seeking that funding.

A second phase is anticipated that would double the number of permanently affordable condos to be built for a total of 60 affordable homes. The condominiums are planned to be built over the next two to three years. 

“We look forward to adding this significant number of permanently affordable homes to this very challenging housing market in Chittenden County,” said Michael Monte, COO/CFO of the Champlain Housing Trust. “Combined with the affordable family and senior rentals planned for this site, there will be nearly 200 new affordable homes in Burlington to provide a wide range of options.”

These condominiums will help fill a large need for affordable housing in Chittenden County. After subsidy, the 30 condominiums in the first phase of the development will have an estimated sale price of between $140,000 and $180,000. The median priced home in Chittenden County sold for $287,000 in the first half of 2017.

“I’ve always believed in sustainability when developing new homes,” added Eric Farrell. “Sustainability doesn’t only mean all the renewable energy systems and environmental protections that we’re including at Cambrian Rise, it also means equity and ensuring people of all incomes can live here.”

The condominiums will be made affordable through CHT’s shared equity homeownership program. This program provides down payment assistance and homebuyer education for qualified buyers. In exchange, buyer agree to share a portion of the appreciation of their home when they sell, keeping the home affordable. This program was recognized by the United Nations with a World Habitat Award in 2008.

The construction of the new affordable homes are part of a larger development with 739 planned homes, a 12 acre public park with beach access, a community garden and commercial space.  In addition to the 60 new affordable homes for sale, the 739 homes will also include 128 affordable rentals for families and seniors with incomes of less than 65 percent of the Chittenden County median income.  The first apartments in Liberty House (the old Orphanage) are occupied, and the remaining affordable and market housing will be constructed after Farrell receives necessary permits.


Bel Aire Motel Converted to Apartments to House Homeless

Posted on Wednesday, July 26, 2017, by Chris Donnelly

The Champlain Housing Trust, UVM Medical Center, community leaders and other partners came together today to celebrate the opening of the Bel Aire Apartments in Burlington’s South End. The former motel has been converted to eight apartments that will become home to 12-15 people.

The new apartments, owned by the Champlain Housing Trust (CHT), will house people who have experienced chronic homelessness or who are living in unsafe conditions that would inhibit their ability to recover from a medical condition. Case management and social work from the Community Health Centers of Burlington will provide services to residents. This is the latest step in a coordinated campaign to end homelessness in Chittenden County, one that has contributed to a nearly 50% reduction in the past three years, according the annual Point in Time count.

CHT’s purchase and renovation of the property was made possible by a grant from the UVM Medical Center. The UVM Medical Center is also providing funding for case management and operations. Earlier collaborations in Vermont – and similar programs around the country – demonstrate health savings that outweigh the cost of the housing while helping people become healthier.

“If a patient is discharged from the hospital without a safe and reliable place to store medication or simply to sleep, it can be difficult to avoid a trip back to the Emergency Room,” said Eileen Whalen, President and Chief Operating Officer at the UVM Medical Center. “By helping the patients we serve who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless, we help them focus on getting better and save health care dollars.” 

“Four years ago, we committed to redoubling our efforts towards virtually eliminating homelessness in our region,” said Brenda Torpy, CEO of Champlain Housing Trust. “Today is another, very important step towards that goal, and we can’t thank the UVM Medical Center enough for their partnership.”

The former motor lodge with 12 rooms was a family-run business originally built in the 1960s. The location and structure of the building lent itself almost perfectly for this adaptation and next chapter in its life. The renovation was managed by 2nd Generation Builders. The property now has one efficiency, five 1-bedroom, one 2-bedroom and one 4-bedroom apartment. Five of the apartments will subsidized through a voucher made available by the Burlington Housing Authority; the remaining will be covered by the UVM Medical Center. More information can be found on a "Frequently Asked Questions" sheet [PDF].

The apartments will come furnished and Burlington Telecom is providing discounted rates to the residents. CVOEO’s Weatherization Program provided support for the building renovation, and local businesses donated plants for window boxes.

The UVM Medical Center will fill three apartments with patients for whom continued hospital stay is not necessary, but may not have a safe place to recover. The remaining five will be people identified by community organizations as most in need, as determined by an ongoing assessment coordinated by the Chittenden County Homeless Alliance. Tenants will move in mid-August.

“Congratulations to the Champlain Housing Trust and UVM Medical Center for coming together with this innovative partnership to create the Bel Aire Apartments,” Mayor Miro Weinberger added. “The City of Burlington is committed to do anything within our means to end chronic homelessness. Housing First strategies are proven to work, and we are excited that efforts like this one at the Bel Aire will make significant headway to address this issue.”

The conversion of the Bel Aire is the latest in a series of collaborative efforts with these partners and others. Harbor Place, a motel in Shelburne, has provided emergency lodging for people with no other place to turn. It has saved the state over $1 million and saved an estimated $1 million in health care costs – all while being more effective at helping people find permanent housing.

Beacon Apartments in South Burlington used to be the Ho Hum Motel. It is now home to 19 people who had been chronically homeless with medical vulnerabilities. That property opened in January, 2016

For more information and a short video on these partnerships, please visit: www.getahome.org/housing-is-healthcare. If you are interested in providing support for these initiatives, please contact Chris Donnelly.

Legislature Approves Historic Affordable Housing Investment

Posted on Wednesday, June 21, 2017, by Chris Donnelly

After years of education, outreach and advocacy, we’ll soon see some significant movement towards alleviating the severe housing affordability challenges Vermonters face. 

The Vermont Legislature just passed a budget that included a historic investment in affordable housing, enabling the issuance of up to $35 million in revenue bonds to support the creation of much needed housing for Vermonters. It is cause for celebration, and it is cause for hope that we can move closer to ensuring every Vermonter has a safe and decent place to call home. 

Today is a very good day: the $35 million investment in affordable housing is the largest in Vermont’s history.

The housing bond, which was introduced by Governor Phil Scott and embraced by Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe and House Speaker Mitzi Johnson – and business and municipal leaders – will also act as an economic stimulus for Vermont communities by leveraging as much as another $100 million in capital to build and rehab affordable housing in all corners of the State.

The bond will help pay for the development or rehab up to 650 homes for Vermonters struggling to afford to live in their communities. In fact, recent data demonstrated that Vermont is the 13th most expensive state in the nation to live for people that rent. The annual Point in Time count of homelessness showed that after a couple of years of progress, there has been an 11% increase statewide, with some regions especially challenged. Not all the news is negative: collaborative efforts in Chittenden County have returned a 45% reduction in homelessness since 2014; a primary barrier to more progress is simply building more housing, especially important now that federal cuts to social safety net programs loom on the horizon.

The resources are dedicated to housing that is permanently affordable and ensure that different populations benefit: at least 25% of the housing must be affordable to households who earn half of the median income, and at least 25% must be affordable to those earning between 80% and 120% of median. These two income bands have been identified as the ones who most lack housing options across the state. The rest of the bond proceeds will serve people earning less than 120% of area median income.

Homelessness Drops in Chittenden County for Third Straight Year

Posted on Monday, May 01, 2017, by Chris Donnelly

Members of the Chittenden County Homeless Alliance and Mayor Miro Weinberger today announced more progress towards their shared goal of eliminating homelessness in Chittenden County, with this year’s Point in Time count indicating a 12% drop in the number of homeless individuals. This progress includes a reduction in both the number of families experiencing homelessness and those who are chronically homeless. The 12% drop brings the overall decrease in homelessness to 45% over the past four years. The January count found 291 people in shelters, other temporary housing options, or completely unsheltered.

“The reduction this year, and for the past three years running, is a testament to collaboration and making sure we all have our eyes on the same prize,” said Erin Ahearn of the Community Health Centers of Burlington and a co-chair of the Homeless Alliance. “We have steadily decreased homelessness across all demographics and can see a future where homelessness is rare and brief.”

The Point in Time count is completed at the end of January each year in communities across the country. The count offers an opportunity to collect data on not only the numbers of people experiencing homelessness, but additional information such as household size, numbers living with mental illness or substance dependency, or the number of veterans without permanent housing. In this way, the count not only provides an ability to evaluate progress year-over-year, but also helps identify where services and resources may be deployed better.

“This third year in a row of decreases is an indication that the public investments to reduce and eliminate homelessness are working. There’s more work to do – but the fact that we’re making progress signals to us that we will succeed in meeting our goal of eliminating homelessness with additional investment in new housing, services and rental assistance,” added Margaret Bozik of the Champlain Housing Trust and the other co-chair of the Alliance.

“I am encouraged to see how much progress we have made as a community to address homelessness by focusing resources on the most vulnerable and pursuing innovative new strategies,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “I have great hope that with our continued collaboration we can bring an end to homelessness in Chittenden County. The $35 million Housing Bond proposal in front of the Legislature would be a big boost towards that goal.”

Progress towards ending homelessness in Chittenden County has benefited from Housing First strategies spearheaded members of the Alliance, adopted as policy by the City of Burlington in 2015, and supported by many partners, which focus resources on addressing the needs of the chronically homeless.

Several key projects have helped individuals experiencing homelessness find permanent housing over the last several years:

  • In 2013, Champlain Housing Trust’s Harbor Place, a motel in Shelburne which offers supportive services, opened and has not only saved money but been more effective at helping people find permanent housing than the simple motel voucher program.
  • Beacon Apartments in South Burlington opened by the Champlain Housing Trust and Community Health Centers of Burlington in early 2015 with the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB), United Way of Northwest Vermont, University of Vermont Medical Center, and Shelter plus Care vouchers administered by the Burlington Housing Authority. Beacon Apartments houses and supports 19 individuals who were chronically homeless and who had medical vulnerabilities.
  • Community Health Centers of Burlington ran a low-barrier warming shelter this past winter, building on the work of COTS and the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity the previous two winters.
  • With the support of the City of Burlington, Housing Vermont and state funders like VHCB, the Committee on Temporary Shelter reopened its Daystation in April, 2017. In the same building 14 new apartments were constructed, four of which are dedicated to people who were formerly homeless.
  • The Champlain Housing Trust and the University of Vermont Medical Center are turning the Bel Aire Motel to into apartments for people who have been homeless or are unable to be discharged from a hospital bed for lack of a better option. The Community Health Centers of Burlington will provide services on site. 
  • Several communities are looking to using local Housing Trust Funds to address housing challenges: the Town of Williston is exploring creating a new trust fund, the City of South Burlington established one in 2014, and the City of Burlington has doubled its contribution to its housing trust fund.

In addition to this year’s 12% drop in the number of homeless individuals, the Chittenden County Point in Time count demonstrated several other positive trends. Since 2015, progress has been made by:

  • Decreasing chronic homelessness by 56%;
  • Lowering family homelessness by 29%;
  • Reducing homelessness among people with severe mental illness by 42%; and
  • Dropping incidence of homelessness with those affected by substance use disorder by 70%.

In spite of this progress, nearly 300 individuals continue to live without homes in Chittenden County. The Alliance and Mayor Weinberger urged leaders in Montpelier to pass the proposed $35 million dollar Housing Bond to support future efforts to address the needs of homeless individuals, or individuals at risk of becoming homeless, in Chittenden County.

Bright Street Housing Co-op wins National Award

Posted on Friday, February 10, 2017, by Chris Donnelly


The Bright Street Housing Cooperative has been selected for the 2017 Audrey Nelson Community Development Achievement Award from the National Community Development Association. Bright Street Housing Co-op is a new, 40 home development created by Champlain Housing Trust and Housing Vermont in Burlington’s Old North End. The City of Burlington and its Community and Economic Development Office, which sponsored the award, will be recognized on February 17 at a ceremony in Washington, DC on behalf of the co-op. It was one of six other communities selected to receive the award.

“One of the primary focuses of this Administration has been on addressing Burlington’s affordable housing crisis,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “The City was pleased to support Champlain Housing Trust and Housing Vermont in the creation of 40 much-needed units that will provide homes for families and individuals from a range of backgrounds and income levels. We are thrilled that the product of this partnership has been recognized by the national Audrey Nelson Community Development Achievement Award.”

The co-op received funding through the City’s Community Development Grant program, its HOME allocation and the Burlington Housing Trust Fund, as well state and national sources such as the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, tax credits allocated by the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, and NeighborWorks America. The TD Charitable Foundation selected Bright Street as a winner in its annual Housing for Everyone competition.

Residents moved in this past fall, following a large community ribbon cutting celebration which coincided with a trip to Burlington from then-HUD Secretary Julian Castro, organized by Senator Patrick Leahy.