CHAMPLAIN HOUSING TRUST ANNOUNCED TODAY that it has received a $20 million donation – the largest in its nearly 40 years of operations – from philanthropist and writer MacKenzie Scott through her philanthropic fund, Yield Giving. The gift will be used to advance CHT’s mission to support the people of northwest Vermont and strengthen their communities through the development and stewardship of permanently affordable homes and related community assets.
“We are extremely grateful to Ms. Scott for the confidence she and her team have placed in our efforts to address the region’s housing crisis, the work we do in supporting people in need, and the track record of serving our communities over the last 40 years,” said Michael Monte, Champlain Housing Trust’s CEO. “Her generosity gives our community the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move the dial on affordable housing right now.”
CHT primarily serves the northwestern three counties of Vermont. It owns or manages more than 2,500 affordable apartments and over 100 shelter beds or motel rooms, stewards 675 shared equity homes to keep them affordable forever and provides a variety of programs that range from affordable lending to financial literacy to community building and resident services. As a real estate developer, CHT has over 500 homes in its development pipeline.
“The Board of Directors is truly amazed by this generosity,” said Jeff Smith, CHT’s Board President. “We couldn’t imagine a better time, with Vermont’s well-documented housing challenges and the State’s ongoing commitment to building affordable housing, to give our community the opportunity to do even more and being able to sustain this effort over time.”
The strategic initiatives to be funded with this gift include:
- Building and Preserving Permanently Affordable Housing – Vermont has a well-documented shortage of affordable housing, and this gift won’t replace the need for public funds or solve the problem. In addition to public funds, CHT uses private debt to move development projects forward and to reinvest in properties, especially properties that serve the most vulnerable. Having internal capacity to replace this borrowing will make development less expensive, more sustainable, and allow CHT to act quickly when opportunities arise.
- Supporting and Increasing Access to Homeownership – Homeownership is a primary way many build wealth and achieve financial stability. Beyond affordability challenges, BIPOC households experienced racist policies that prevented them from becoming homeowners. With this gift, CHT can expand its Homeownership Equity Program statewide working with partner agencies, support our existing homeowners and support the foundational education and counseling that helps all prospective buyers.
- Addressing Homelessness – CHT continues to play an integral role with our partners to end chronic and family homelessness. Services for people in need are critical to these efforts. Twenty-three percent of CHT’s rental housing is occupied by people exiting homelessness and CHT helped over 200 households exit homelessness in the last year, numbers that CHT has committed to increase in the coming year. This gift will create an ongoing, stable stream of funding to help support this work.
- Building Community – CHT created the Old North End Community Center in Burlington five years ago and is embarking on a new effort to redevelop the O’Brien Community Center in Winooski. This gift will help sustain the nonprofit and public use of the building, stabilize the rents for the tenants, and make needed improvements to supply top-notch community resources.
- Supporting our Residents – CHT’s resident services and community building staff provide support and programming to connect people to resources, to each other, and to opportunities to be engaged in their neighborhood and communities. Being able to sustain and grow this work is an important priority in our strategic plan.
“Thousands of lives long into the future will be impacted because of this donation. We can’t thank Ms. Scott enough,” added Monte.