VHCB Executive Director Gus Seelig said, “The Board is pleased to support these community-driven projects in all corners of the state. Housing developments receiving commitments of VHCB funding are located in Lyndonville, Brattleboro, Bennington, Burlington and Hinesburg, while land will be conserved in the towns of Ferrisburgh, Hinesburg, Hartland, Bridgewater and Reading.”
The Board committed $810,500 in funding to conserve 575 acres on farms in Ferrisburgh and Hinesburg, a 93-acre sugar bush in Hartland, and 623 acres of forestland in Bridgewater and Reading. $562,500 in federal funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service will complement the VHCB commitment of state funding for farmland conservation.
One of the farms is a dairy farm transitioning to a beef operation. Two others will use proceeds from the sale of conservation easements to purchase and conserve land they have been renting for many years. A diversified dairy farm with a large sugaring operation will conserve a 96-acre sugar bush adjacent to the home farm, which the family is in the process of conserving. The sugar bush land includes the summit of the highest point in town and a popular VAST trail. Each conservation easement will include an option to purchase at agricultural value, a legal restriction that will make the property more affordable to farmers upon resale.
Under a new category of funding for working forestland, the Meccawe Club in Bridgewater and Reading will use $120,720 in VHCB funding to conserve 623 acres managed for wildlife, timber and water quality that abuts the Coolidge State Forest. A trail system on the property is open to the public for hunting, hiking and skiing.
Housing developments to receive funding awards are as follows:
• The Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS) and Housing Vermont will use $420,000 in VHCB funding in a $2.7 million development, creating 14 one-bedroom and efficiency apartments on the second floor of the COTS headquarters and a new space for the Daystation on North Avenue in Burlington. COTS provides emergency shelter, services, and housing for people who are homeless or marginally housed.
• On Riverside Avenue in the Old North End, a VHCB award of $233,000 will assist the Burlington Housing Authority in constructing a 6-bedroom community house with shared common areas located next to a 6-unit BHA-owned apartment building, creating 12 affordable homes for adults with developmental disabilities and one apartment for a resident manager. Support services will be provided by the HowardCenter. The target population for these units is young adults transitioning from living with parents to independent living. Rental assistance certificates for the six bedrooms in the community building can be retained by residents who move on to independent living.
• With $1,000,000 in VHCB funds, the Champlain Housing Trust (CHT) and Housing Vermont will develop 42 mixed-income family apartments at the Bright Street Co-op in Burlington’s Old North End. The co-op structure will give residents control over management decisions. Three town house-style buildings will be constructed along the street and a three-story apartment building will be located on the interior of the site. Among the features of the $10.5 million development will be underground parking, a common room, laundry, garden space and a playground. An existing duplex on the site will be sold to current residents through CHT’s home ownership program.
• RuralEdge, an affordable housing developer based in Lyndonville, will use $175,000 in VHCB funding and $250,000 in federal HOME Program funding to rehabilitate the Darling Inn, 28 units of service-supported senior housing on Main Street in Lyndonville. A commercial kitchen and dining room serve as the community meal site and headquarters for Meals-on-Wheels for the surrounding towns. Additionally, the Darling Inn is the site for coordinated health services provided to residents of Darling Inn and other senior residences in Lyndon and surrounding towns. The rehabilitation by RuralEdge will address health and safety code issues, improve accessibility, increase energy efficiency and restructure project debt.
• In Brattleboro and Bennington, the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust and Shires Housing will rehabilitate 55 apartments in 11 buildings, increasing energy efficiency, upgrading fixtures and finishes, installing sprinklers and performing electrical work as necessary, improving accessibility and restructuring debt.
• The Cathedral Square Corporation and Housing Vermont will rehabilitate Kelly’s Field, 24 apartments for seniors and people with disabilities in Hinesburg. Improvements will include new roofing, flooring and finishes, new mechanical systems for heating and ventilation, converting from fuel oil to natural gas, adding insulation and improving accessibility. The $4 million project will use $204,000 in VHCB funding and $204,000 in federal HOME Program funds.
The Vermont Housing & Conservation Board is an independent state funding agency supporting the development of affordable homes and the conservation of farm and forestland, natural areas, recreational lands and historic community buildings. VHCB also administers federal funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for various housing programs, from the Natural Resources Conservation Service for farmland conservation, and for the Corporation for National and Community Service for the AmeriCorps program.