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/.

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.


New Housing Underway in Shelburne

Posted on Friday, June 28, 2013, by Jonathan Shenton

Thursday afternoon brought together scores of interested onlookers as three local nonprofit housing developers were joined by Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin to mark the beginning of construction of new housing in Shelburne village.

“After many years of planning and persistence, this new neighborhood in the heart of Shelburne will soon be a reality,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin. “Harrington Village brings together rental and single family homes for all ages and a variety of income levels in the village center, surrounded by open land and promoting smart downtown development with good quality of life for residents.”

The three nonprofits – Champlain Housing Trust, Housing Vermont and Cathedral Square – are collaborating to build a mixed-income, mixed-generation neighborhood of 82 new homes including 42 family apartments, 36 senior apartments and four affordable homes for sale. Construction is underway and occupancy of the family and senior rentals is expected in the summer of 2014; the for-sale homes will be available later.

“We are here today because committed citizens and local officials in Shelburne wanted to make sure that their community is inclusive for people of all incomes,” said Brenda Torpy, CEO of the Champlain Housing Trust. “I applaud that commitment, and we look forward to coming back here next summer to welcome the first people moving in.”

“We also appreciate the Town of Shelburne’s support for the new neighborhood we are creating,” added Kim Fitzgerald, Chief of Operations and Finance at Cathedral Square Corporation. “This development has so many wins – mixed income housing for seniors and families in a village location, construction jobs, and conservation of open space for the Town. Cathedral Square anticipates the Wright House senior housing to be leased up before the doors open next summer.”

Funding for the housing came from a variety of sources, including investments made by TD Bank and Enterprise Community Investment through a federal tax credit equity program. Grants from HUD-funded programs and USDA Rural Development were instrumental to the development, including support from NeighborWorks America, HOME and Community Development Block Grants (commonly known as CDBG). Support and financing also came from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, Vermont Housing Finance Agency, Vermont Community Development Program, Efficiency Vermont, Vermont Gas, the Town of Shelburne and proceeds from state tax credit. SCHIP’s Treasure Shop, a resale shop in the center of Shelburne, made an early grant in support of the predevelopment costs of the project.

“The vacancy rate for rental housing in suburban Chittenden County is currently less than one percent,” said Housing Vermont President Nancy Owens. “Clearly, there are many families and seniors who are looking for quality apartments at affordable rents in good locations. Harrington Village directly responds to those needs and we expect that demand will be strong,” Owens said.

Wright & Morrissey Inc. is the general contractor for both the senior and family housing, and Duncan Wisniewski Architecture is the project’s architect. The combined cost of the two rental developments is approximately $20 million.