BROC-Community Action in Southwestern Vermont recently hired two new counselors. Jessica Steller and Janna Herchenroder joined the organization as counselors for the Housing Opportunity Program in our Bennington location. They will provide case management, eviction prevention and rapid rehousing services for homeless and at-risk clients.
Michael Monte, chief financial and operating officer of the Champlain Housing Trust, was recently chosen as the winner of the 2016 Con Hogan Award for Creative, Entrepreneurial, Community Leadership. The $15,000 award was presented to Monte at a reception on Oct. 5 at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier. Monte joined leadership team at Champlain Housing Trust in 2007. He has more than 30 years of experience in the community and economic development field.
Rebecca Crandall recently joined the staff at BROC-Community Action in southwestern Vermont. Crandall will provide housing services for Bennington-area clients in the Reach Up program, under a new community services grant. She will work with the Vermont Division of Economic Services to oversee the placement of clients into three transitional units and perform outreach to homeless Reach Up recipients living in area motels. Crandall has a bachelor’s degree in Human Services from State University of New York-Empire State College.
The Vermont Housing & Conservation Board can begin to administer $3 million from the National Housing Trust Fund this fall, according to a recent announcement from federal housing officials. Vermont will be among the first states in the nation to begin using this new source of federal funds, aiming to create and preserve rental housing that’s affordable to extremely low-income households around the state. Senator Patrick Leahy was instrumental in securing the funding for the National Housing Trust Fund that was first introduced in Congress by Senator Bernie Sanders in 2001. Congress passed the National Housing Trust Fund legislation in 2008, and the funding was allocated this year. The Vermont Legislature designated VHCB to administer the program based on the agency’s effective track record using federal funds to benefit Vermonters and their communities.
The Vermont Housing & Conservation Board recently awarded $4,597,550 to conserve nearly 3,260 acres of farmland, recreational land and town forests in 20 towns. These funds will also help increase housing accessibility around the state. Along with help from federal funds, this VHCB money will conserve 2,259 acres on 15 farms in the towns of Westford, Shelburne, Cambridge, Fairfield, Monkton, Barre Town, East Montpelier, Charlotte, Randolph, Tunbridge, Troy, Shaftsbury, Essex Junction, Swanton and Georgia. The VHCB funding also includes conservation projects in the following areas: Bean Pond in Sutton, Rikert Swimming Access in Sharon, Whetstone Brook in Brattleboro, the White River in Sharon, Gale Meadows Pond in Winhall and town forests in Georgia and Westford. Housing commitments included a $445,000 VHCB grant to enable the Vermont Center for Independent Living to make accessibility modifications to homes and apartments around the state.
Vermont’s residential real estate market continues its steady climb out of the post-recession doldrums this year, as more first-time buyers have come into the market. Many homes that have awaited buyers for years are finally selling. Experts also said low interest rates, lower gas prices and more optimism about the overall economy have all encouraged a number of younger families and couples to buy first homes in the Green Mountains. In May, closed sales of Vermont homes were up 3.5 percent over May 2015, while the median sales price had dropped by 4.3 percent, according to data from Vermont Realtors. The group also reported that closed sales of single-family homes went up 9.2 percent in May, compared to the same month in 2015.
The Vermont Housing & Conservation Board recently made funding commitments totaling $4,067,320 to 10 organizations to carry out projects in various parts of the state. The VHCB funds will be used to construct or rehabilitate 172 affordable apartments, provide affordable homeownership to five households, conserve nearly 80 acres of land and to restore an historic building. These projects are in Burlington, South Burlington, Barre, Montpelier, Bennington, Arlington, Shaftsbury, Putney, Brattleboro, Athens, Rockingham and Westminster. For example, the funding will help Downstreet Housing & Community Development and Housing Vermont to develop 18 apartments in the upper stories of the historic French Block, above Aubuchon Hardware on Main Street in Montpelier. Also from this funding, $50,000 will go to the Barre Historical Society to help with the effort to rehabilitate the site of a former bakery behind the Socialist Party Labor Hall in Barre.