If there are CHT residents who are furloughed employees of the federal government, please call us to verify your employment status and we will work out a plan with you to help you through this difficult time.
If there are CHT residents who are furloughed employees of the federal government, please call us to verify your employment status and we will work out a plan with you to help you through this difficult time.
The Sanders Institute’s inaugural conference, The Sanders Institute Gathering, is to be held in Burlington from Thursday, November 29 through Saturday, December 1, with an array of speakers coming from both the national and international progressive community. CHT’s Brenda Torpy will be a featured speaker on housing policy during Saturday’s session.
“I am thrilled to be invited to speak about the ways in which we can move towards a society that makes access to housing a right of all citizens, and how we’ve pioneered permanently affordable housing here at Champlain Housing Trust and in Vermont,” said Torpy.
Founded in 2017 on the belief that a vital democracy requires an informed electorate, civil discourse and bold ideas, the Sanders Institute focuses on progressive solutions to economic, environmental, racial and social justice issues.
David Driscoll, Co-Founder & Executive Director of the young, non-partisan think tank, said that the event will host “elected officials, organizers, educators, economists, writers, artists and emerging leaders from a full spectrum of experience and expertise.”
The conference will include leaders from a variety of sectors:
- Mayors Carmen Yulin Cruz (San Juan, Puerto Rico), Bill deBlasio (New York, NY), Ada Colau (Barcelona, Spain) and Michael Tubbs (Stockton, CA) will be on a Mayor’s Roundtable.
- Labor leaders such as UE President Peter Knowlton, APWU President Mark Dimondstein, NNU Co-President Jean Ross and former NNU Executive Director RoseAnn Demoro will be speaking.
- Yanis Varoufakis (former Finance Minister of Greece), Nikki Ashton (Member of Canadian Parliament), Bernie Sanders (Vermont Senator), David McWilliams (Irish author/economist) and others will discuss international cooperation and the need for a Progressive International movement.
Other speakers include well-known names like Danny Glover, Stephanie Kelton, Shaun King, Naomi Klein, Ben Jealous, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Winona LaDuke, Bill McKibben, Nina Turner, Simon Sinek, Cenk Uygar and James Zogby. Researchers and policy development experts such as Jane Kim, Robert Pollin, Chirlane McCray, Michael Weinstein, Radhika Balakrishnan, Matt Nelson, Joseph Geevargese, Karin Ryan, Jo Beardsmore, Diane Archer, Ron Goldfarb and John Davis and many more will be part of the program – which includes fifteen of the Institute’s eighteen fellows.
More information on the conference and speakers can be found at www.sandersinstitutegathering.org.
Jane Sanders, Co-Founder & Fellow, said “the selection of topics and speakers will ensure that the conference is insightful and relevant, as we discuss some of our nation’s most pressing issues and share innovative solutions. Medicare for All, the climate crisis, housing issues, criminal justice, workers’ rights, international cooperation, civil rights and austerity in Puerto Rico are some of the issues that will be addressed.”
“Social justice, economic justice and human dignity will be focuses threaded throughout the conference,” said Driscoll, concluding, “The core intent of The Sanders Institute Gathering is to share replicable policies, develop actionable steps, establish ongoing networks and articulate a progressive vision.”
The McClure family is well known to those of us who live in the Burlington area. You can see examples of their generosity sprinkled about town in support of causes that support children and seniors, improved health, the natural environment, learning and a whole host of services that enrich our community. The Champlain Housing Trust’s work in affordable housing, as well as our efforts to ensure that vital community services have a home, has been buoyed by Lois and the McClure family over the years.
In the 1990s, five nonprofits came together to collectively raise money to create our own homes. This resulted in the acquisition and rehab of three buildings in Burlington: The Vermont Legal Aid and Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf buildings on North Winooski Avenue, and a building at 179 South Winooski Avenue that originally housed COTS, the Chittenden County Court Diversion Program, and Burlington Community Land Trust – now CHT. The McClures made a $1 million gift to that campaign, and their generosity was recognized at 179 South Winooski as the “J. Warren and Lois H. McClure Community Resource Center.”
That building served the nonprofits for many years – and launched these groups into bigger accomplishments and new homes. CHT retains ownership of the building, but it has been leased the Turning Point Center and is used as a seasonal warming shelter and other nonprofit space. Our hope is to, at some point in the near future, relinquish ownership of the building to them. But we didn’t want to leave behind our connection to the McClures.
Beyond the $1 million gift Lois and Mac made for those buildings, Lois and her family’s generosity to CHT over the years has literally helped thousands of people access affordable housing. A second $1 million gift initiated an endowment that will support our work for generations to come. When we approached her and her daughter Barbara to ask their permission to dedicate our headquarters in recognition of all that this giving has accomplished, there was no hesitation – “Of course,” they said.
But – and there was a “but” – they had one request. They wanted to highlight that giving is just one component of success, and that strong relationships, innovative organizations and inspirational leaders also count. That’s why they insisted that the building not just bear the McClure name, but also that of Lois’ longtime friend, CHT’s Brenda Torpy.
We’ve dedicated the headquarters the “McClure Torpy Building” to honor this friendship and partnership, one which has given hope and opportunity to so many in the community. Our deepest thanks and admiration to Lois, her daughter Barbara and son Jim, and the rest of the McClure family.
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/.
The apartments, named Garden Apartments, are being developed by Snyder Braverman Development Company, who have an agreement to sell the building to the Champlain Housing Trust and Housing Vermont. The apartments will remain affordable forever.
“This is just the latest in a number of celebrations here in South Burlington’s new City Center marking our progress,” said City Council President Helen Riehle. “We’ll keep getting together to celebrate because this has taken a number of years, involving countless South Burlington residents, committees and boards, and all South Burlington tax payers. This new affordable housing another important step in the culmination of a long-dreamed center that will demonstrate and reflect the community’s inclusive values.”
Nearly a quarter of the funding for the development – $3.9 million – came from Vermont’s recently passed Housing for All bond. Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, a leader in the effort to pass the $37 million bond, said, “This is exactly what we envisioned when we committed to investing in communities, in places to live for low and moderate income people, and our economy. Seeing this new housing get underway and spurring additional economic development is exactly what Vermont and Chittenden County needs right now.”
The apartments will be built at the corner of Market Street, which is also under construction, and a yet-to-be constructed extension of Garden Street. “We’re so pleased to be able to provide new affordable housing options at this new vibrant center near amenities and jobs and in the core of the county,” added Brenda Torpy, CEO of Champlain Housing Trust. “We are especially appreciative of the people of South Burlington for pushing this vision and creating resources to make it happen.” The City established one of only a handful of affordable housing trust funds in the State, and has contributed $75,000 in addition to sponsoring an application for state funds through the Vermont Community Development Program.
Other funders include NeighborWorks® America and the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, which administers the Housing for All bond and also added federal HOME funds for the housing. The largest source, though, is the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program, administered by the Vermont Housing Finance Agency. TD Bank is the investor providing $6.9 million in equity in exchange for the credits flowing from the development. VHFA also provided a construction loan for the project.
“It really does take multiple partners and institutions to pull together, agree on a common vision and see it to the point where we can get under construction,” said Nancy Owens, President of Housing Vermont. “We’re excited to come back next fall and welcome people moving in.”
The sixty apartments will be a mixture of sizes, with an understanding of the needs of the regions. There will be 26 one-bedroom, 20 two-bedroom, 11 three-bedroom, and three four-bedroom apartments. Occupancy is expected in the fall/early winter of 2019. For more information on renting, visit the Champlain Housing Trust website at www.getahome.org.
The Champlain Housing Trust announced today that it had acquired a 15-acre property with 105 apartments on Dorset Street in South Burlington. Dorset Commons, which was originally built in the late 1970s, was sold by Catic Exchange.
“Across Chittenden County, rents continue to rise and vacancy rates remain very low,” said Michael Monte, Chief Operating and Financial Officer at the housing trust. “Purchasing Dorset Commons preserves this stock of housing as affordable for the tenants who live there.”
A number of properties over the past several years have been demolished and redeveloped, or seen rents rise beyond what people could afford, leading to displacement of tenants.
“While the increased construction in Chittenden County is, in general, a good thing, there continues to be a lack of housing for low and moderate income individuals and families. We felt it necessary to step in and save this property,” added Monte.
Properties such as Dorset Commons are sometimes referred to as “naturally occurring affordable housing” since there were no public funds invested in constructing the development or restrictions on rent or incomes of tenants. The average rent for a two-bedroom at Dorset Commons is currently $1,200 – Fair Market Rent in the region is $1,442.
All the current tenants will have their leases honored and rent kept stable. New mangers and maintenance staff will be onsite to introduce themselves Wednesday and answer questions. As with all tenants of the housing trust, Dorset Commons’ residents will automatically become members of the organization giving them access to free credit counseling and homebuyer education classes. Members also are invited to a summer picnic each year, and an annual meeting and awards dinner to elect the board of directors.
Bank financing was provided by TD Bank, N.A. In order to keep the rents moderately affordable, financing was also provided by the State of Vermont Treasurer’s Office Local Investment Program, the Vermont Community Foundation, and the Sellers, with an equity grant provided by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.
“All Vermonters deserve safe and affordable housing options,” said Vermont Treasurer Beth Pearce. “The Treasurer’s Office is committed to working with our partners, like Champlain Housing Trust, to identify capital gaps and leverage State dollars to fill the need and improve Vermonters’ quality of life.”The Champlain Housing Trust has nearly 3,000 homes under its stewardship, including approximately 2,300 apartments. CHT serves the communities of Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties.
CHT announced today a three-year $240,000 commitment from KeyBank Foundation to support our goal of eliminating chronic homelessness in Chittenden County. The grant will be used to hire a social worker to help homeless individuals and families attain access to permanent housing, as well as provide ongoing support and services to help them retain housing.
“KeyBank’s recognition that this bold goal is achievable demonstrates what a committed community partner they are,” said Brenda Torpy, CEO of the Champlain Housing Trust. “In collaboration with many partners, we’ve made tremendous progress over the past few years. With this infusion of funds we will eliminate chronic homelessness in Chittenden County.”
A point-in-time survey done in January 2015 identified 101 individuals as “chronically homeless” in the county. Collaboration and coordination among various agencies reduced that number to 35 individuals by January 2018. Currently, there are approximately 330 formerly homeless residents in CHT apartments – including 76 new residents in the past year. “Support for people after they’ve moved into their new apartment has been as critical as housing them in the first place,” commented Torpy.
“We are thrilled to provide needed funding to Champlain Housing Trust at a critical juncture in their efforts to end chronic homelessness,” said KeyBank Market President Donald Baker. “They have proven to be an effective leader in this campaign, and we are happy to partner with them as they continue to improve the lives of so many in our community.”
The $240,000 grant is the largest investment KeyBank Foundation has made to the Burlington community in recent years. It will be paid out over three years beginning in the summer of 2018. The Champlain Housing Trust intends to advertise for and hire the new staff shortly, and will continue to work with the Chittenden County Homeless Alliance to achieve this goal.
Saturday’s fire was frightening. A few people suffered serious injuries, but thankfully there were no casualties. We owe a debt of gratitude to the fire fighters who responded.
Here is an update with the most up-to-date information that we have:
- The Burlington Fire Department has determined that the fire started outside in the stairwell. The investigation continues.
- We have found new housing for all four of the households who had lived on the left-hand side of the building, which is a total loss. Paperwork is being processed now.
- We are assessing whether and when the four households on the right side can move back in. In the meantime, they will continue to be put up in a local motel.
- After helping tenants with their housing, CHT’s next steps will be working with our insurance company and contractors to evaluate how to reconstruct the building.
- Next week there’ll be a number of community activities underway at South Meadow, including a summer school lunch program starting up, outreach around a new composting program, and support of a brand new community garden. We hope residents will participate in these activities.
- The victims of the fire suffered a great deal and a few lost some or virtually all of their belongings. Efforts are underway to support them and we are compiling those options. If anyone is interested in helping out, please contact Anna Herman at CHT at 862-6244 to learn how.
The Champlain Housing Trust hosted a compost training for resident gardeners at Fort Ethan Allen over the weekend, as part of an effort to establish an on-site community compost at the 36-plot neighborhood garden.
The event was part of CHT’s NeighborWorks Week celebration. Each year, NeighborWorks America and its network of local organizations mobilize volunteers, businesspeople, neighbors, friends, and local and national leaders in a week of neighborhood change and awareness.
CHT acquired the garden two years ago when they purchased several apartments at the Fort from the University of Vermont.
“For the past several years, residents have been using a plot in the garden as a place to dump their food scraps and garden waste, but it’s never been managed properly,” said Anna Herman, CHT’s Community Relations Specialist. “The idea behind this project was to create a hot compost system that continues to serve the community but also produces viable compost come spring-time.”
She says the initiative was 100% resident-driven and came at a time when many housing sites are beginning to introduce composting measures in preparation for Vermont’s mandatory composting law, Act 148, which goes into full effect in 2020.
Both NeighborWorks America and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board provided funding for the project. Natasha Duarte, Director of the Composting Association of Vermont, and Athena Lee Bradley, Projects Manager for the Northeast Recycling Council led the training alongside support from the Vermont Community Garden Network and the Chittenden Solid Waste District. The groups are working together on a pilot community food scrap composting project at three sites outside of Chittenden County to test and support best practices for community-scale compost management."Community-scale composting is a great way to manage household food waste and produce valuable soil amendments," said Libby Weiland, Statewide Network Coordinator for the Vermont Community Garden Network. "Projects like this play a key role in empowering communities to keep the vital resource of compost local."
Governor Phil Scott joined municipal officials, nonprofit leaders, lawmakers and housing developers Wednesday to applaud progress toward meeting residential building targets in Chittenden County, while acknowledging that more needs to be done to increase the number of affordable apartments and for-sale homes available to working people.
The Building Homes Together (BHT) campaign, launched by the Champlain Housing Trust, Housing Vermont and the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission in 2016, set a target of 3,500 new homes to be constructed over five years, with 20% of them being permanently affordable. The campaign goals are supported by over 100 community leaders and public officials.
In 2016, Chittenden County saw a net increase of 916 new homes including accessory dwellings, assisted living apartments, apartments and homes for sale. This is nearly twice the average annual production of homes during the past five years. Despite this increase, there were only 69 new affordable homes added in 2016, or 8% of the total.
“The construction of new homes is an important part of our efforts to increase availability of affordable housing statewide, and is great for our economy, employers and citizens. I am pleased to see progress made in Chittenden County, but we have more work to do here and across Vermont,” said Governor Phil Scott. “This data illustrates our continued need for more moderately priced homes to ensure Chittenden County is affordable for low and middle-income Vermonters. I believe the $35 million Housing for All bond I proposed, and the legislature passed, this year will help us make more progress in Chittenden County, and across the state.”
The BHT campaign uses certificate of occupancy data collected directly from municipalities as the basis for the reported numbers. Looking ahead, it appears there will be approximately 360 new rentals added to the market in 2017 with 52 of them affordable. There are no accurate data available to project the number of new homes for sale that will be occupied in 2017.
In 2018, the first affordable homes will be built using the innovative bond funding authorized by the Legislature this year. Nonprofit organizations described willingness to build over 300 affordable homes almost immediately.
“The data show us that, yes, there has been a building boom in Chittenden County this year,” said Charlie Baker, Executive Director of the CCRPC. “However, the July vacancy rate of 2.5% is still lower than we’d like to see for a healthy housing market. Rents also continue to rise at almost 4% a year.”
“There’s an imbalance in the market. We really need an influx of capital if we are truly going to make Chittenden County more affordable,” added Nancy Owens, President of Housing Vermont.
“We get more than ten applications for every available apartment,” said Brenda Torpy of the Champlain Housing Trust. “If we are going to house our workforce or eliminate homelessness and protect the most vulnerable, the time is now to invest.”
The BHT campaign held their announcement on Market Street in South Burlington, site of the long-planned City Center. Multiple buildings are planned by developer Snyder Homes over the next several years. The first to be built is Allard House, senior housing that will be owned and managed by Cathedral Square. Ground breaking is expected in the next two weeks.
For more information on Building Homes Together, or to sign on to the campaign, please visit: http://www.ecosproject.com/building-homes-together/ or contact Chris Donnelly: email@example.com or (802) 310-0623.
What other officials are saying about the progress and mission of the Building Homes Together campaign:
Vermont Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe
“It takes many strategies over many years to make progress on the big stuff like our chronic housing shortage. Several years ago, Ginny Lyons and I worked hard with the South Burlington City team to enable the creation of South Burlington's TIF district. We applaud them for making the vision a reality. Despite criticism from some partisan groups, the Legislature maintained funding for the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board when it was under threat, steadily expanded the Downtown and Village Credit program, funded an innovative down payment assistance program at VHFA, and so much more. Without this foundation in place, the goal of 3,500 new homes would be a pipe dream. It’s important to recognize the critical role public investment plays in meeting community needs.”
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger
“The road to greater housing affordability and remaining an equitable, diverse community requires both increased housing opportunities for our most vulnerable and getting our land use policies right to encourage much greater production of new homes overall. Burlington is committed to this dual strategy and is grateful for its partnership with the Building Homes Together coalition pushing for the same solutions countywide. With the passage of last year’s Housing For All bond, major projects underway throughout the county, and growing awareness of the importance of increasing Chittenden County homes, this crucial effort has exciting momentum.”