Farmworker Housing Program Extended

Champlain Housing Trust announced today that the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB) approved a new round of funding totaling $2.45 million for the organization’s Farmworker Housing programs, building upon the successful pilot project in partnership with the UVM Extension program initiated in 2022. The program includes allocations for both repair of existing housing, and for the replacement of housing that is beyond repair or not suitable for habitation. Both options are available throughout the State of Vermont.

The program grew out of a report completed in 2021 for VHCB that identified the need for improvements to the housing of farmworkers. The report estimated that 2,000 farmworkers lived on farms.

In September, VHCB awarded CHT $1,775,000 for its Farmworker Housing Repair Loan program, and an additional $675,000 to extend a pilot Farmworker Replacement Housing Loan program. Both grants came from State General Funds allocated to VHCB by the Vermont Legislature, which has prioritized housing for a variety of people in need across the state.

“Ensuring safe and adequate housing for farmworkers is essential for their well-being and for the vitality of Vermont’s ag economy” said Gus Seelig, executive director of VHCB. “Our Board is pleased to support these programs, and we’re grateful to our good partners at CHT for their efforts to continue this important work.”

Since launching the Farmworker Housing Repair Loan program in early 2022, Vermont farmers have completed eight projects with funds loaned from CHT, resulting in improved housing conditions for 29 farmworkers. There are an additional 30 units underway, representing housing for 110 farmworkers. Examples of repairs funded by this program include new septic systems, replacement of heating systems, mold remediation and bathroom and kitchen remodels.

In addition, CHT has funded two Replacement Housing projects in the initial pilot program, representing improved housing for six farmworkers. Still in the development phase, this pilot program provides loans for farms that need to replace existing housing that cannot be improved, such as housing in barns or manufactured homes past their useful life, with new highly energy efficient housing.

With the additional funds from VHCB, CHT estimates that it can repair 50 more units of farmworker housing and fund an additional five replacement housing projects.

“This is such a critical program for an essential population that helps feed Vermonters and plays an integral role in our economy,” said Julie Curtin, director of homeownership for the housing trust, which operates the program. “We’re very thankful to VHCB and of course, the Legislature, for committing resources to this need.”

Both Repair and Replacement versions of the program are structured as no interest, deferred, and forgivable loans to ensure that the farmers keep the housing available for workers on their farms. More information can be found on the program page.