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.
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.
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.
The other day a man named Robert came into our office and gave us a note and a single red rose. The note was addressed to the staff, boards and donors of the Champlain Housing Trust, COTS, Burlington Housing Authority, and CVOEO. Robert was housed at Harbor Place for a period last winter, and now he lives in one of our affordable apartments in Burlington.
His note is a reminder of both the challenges people face, and the transformative nature of our work. Here's what Robert wrote:
We know that decent, safe and affordable housing is a key factor in determining health and well-being, both on an individual basis but also in our neighborhoods. We know this is true with people who are homeless, and that the chronically homeless present a special challenge in the provision of health care and supportive services.
We need to expand the supply of affordable housing with supportive services in a variety of settings that work.
In order to address this issue, the CHT has issued itself a challenge: create 40 homes with services for the chronically homeless and 30 homes for homeless families. To succeed, we will need to partner with several community agencies and funders. Our newest initiatve to meet this challenge is Beacon Apartments, a repurposed motel in South Burlington to provide permanent housing with services for 19 chronically homeless single adults who are medically vulnerable. Our partners on this effort are the Safe Harbor Clinic of the Community Health Centers of Burlington, and the Burlington Housing Authority.
When we think of affordable housing, we often think of the benefits that people living there receive: a secure, safe place to live that meets their budget and where they can set and achieve their goals. But there's a significant economic impact from which we all benefit -- jobs, sales and payroll taxes, local economic development and vibrant communities.
In Housing and the Economy: The Statewide Ripple Effect, we tell this story of how affordable housing development and preservation adds value to the bottom line, with real examples from communities across the state. It's the fifth and final in our series of papers describing the intersection of housing with other public policy priorities.
(photo credit: Sally McKay)
In the second of a series of papers on how affordable housing impacts other pieces of our lives, the connection between health and housing is becoming better understood. In Housing and Health: The Importance of Place, we delve into some of these impacts. As Megan Sandel, M.D., M.P.H., and Deborah Frank, M.D. write, "For many of our patients, a safe, decent, affordable home is like a vaccine—it literally keeps children healthy.”
Photo credit: CC image Older man and nurse using blood pressure by Tunstall on Flickr [cropped]
A new paper was released today that highlights the intersection of affordable housing and education, and the benefits that an affordable home provides kids in terms of their ability to learn in school. In the report, Rebecca Haslam, an elementary school teacher, is quoted saying, "Kids experiencing housing challenges feel disconnected from their communities, which is even more damaging to their ability to access the academics... they're just not ready."
Housing and Education: Putting the Pieces Together is the first in a series of papers on the value affordable housing offers the people and communities across the State of Vermont. For more information, contact Chris Donnelly at the Champlain Housing Trust or Kenn Sassorossi at Housing Vermont.
(Photo credit: CC image Student Writing 2002 by cybrarian77 on Flickr)
Now Accepting applications
BRAND NEW affordable apartments in Shelburne available for move-in August 2014.
All apartments feature
- Heat & hot water, snow & trash removal included in rent
Select apartments feature
- Covered parking with elevator service
- Washer and dryer hook-ups or on-site laundry
- Walking distance to banking, shopping, schools, nature trails and museum.
- Located just off Route 7 and the bus line
- Playground on property
- Handicapped accessible units
- Secure non-smoking buildings
Apartment sizes and approximate monthly charges (heat & hot water, snow & trash removal included) rents subject to change:
1BR apartments $625 to $950/month
2BR apartments $750 to $1,225/month
3BR apartments $865 to $1,450/month
First step is to fill out an application or contact David Ellsworth-Keller at 861-7369 or e-mail at email@example.com.
Harrington Village Application (407 KB)
Harrington Village Brochure (898 KB)