[Update: Saturday, April 18, 2:30pm]
We hope you're safe and healthy, and managing okay under the circumstances. Life will slowly get back to normal, but it will take some time. Thank you for all you're doing to protect public health.
Below we have compiled a number of programs to help you. It is important for you to know what is available, but please be cautious about scams during this period as always.
- If you did not get federal Economic Impact Payment directly deposited into your bank account, you can visit the IRS website to find out how to get the money promised to you. There are two options: one for those who won't file a tax return for 2018 or 2019, and another for those who don't have bank information filed with this IRS.
- If you have lost income, you may qualify for 3SquaresVT to help supplement your food budget. The State is making applying simpler.
- While the system has been strained, you should still apply for Unemployment Benefits if you have lost work or income. The State Department of Labor will have a new system up and running soon for independent contractors and sole business owners.
- We are working to understand other gaps, such as lack of Internet connectivity. There are some options at the bottom of our resource page for some providers, and we're looking into this further.
- Also on our resource page are links to other food and financial resources.
With the first steps of loosening the Stay Home, Stay Safe order, you may start to see a little landscaping or outside work around your properties. This is a small step to return to some normalcy. There will be additional ones, but for now it is important that we continue to practice social distancing, wear masks in public, and wash hands regularly to keep us all safe.
As always, please reach out to your property manager if you need help.
Many of us have just received stimulus funding from the Federal CARES Act deposited in our bank accounts. Some of us will need this money to get by, or have a family member or friend who needs assistance.
If you are able, please consider supporting CHT with some of these funds. It is clear to us that everything we've expended to date – which is approaching $100,000 – won't be covered by federal funds. Our guiding purpose is to ensure that our most vulnerable neighbors, and all of us, stay safe. Please support us if you can.
FOR OUR HOMEOWNERS
[Tuesday, March 17, 9:30am]
A message for our tenants:
Your well-being and safety, and the health and safety of our staff, is of utmost importance to us in response to this public health emergency. We are writing to let you know of additional steps we have taken and ones that are in progress to keep you informed:
- First, we have closed our offices to outside visitors to practice “social distancing” and installed an intercom system at 88 King Street. We are avoiding face-to-face meetings. Please call or email your property manager if you need to reach them.
- If you need to drop off your rent payment or other paperwork, please use the mail slots at our offices or, better yet, put it in the mail or send an email. If you haven’t signed up to pay your rent online, you can do so from our website.
- We are limiting maintenance responses to emergencies only. Please understand that we need to prioritize health and safety at this point. If you have an emergency need, call 861-3076.
- If your job(s) or income has been impacted by the pandemic, please let us know. These are challenging times and we are here to support you. We are compiling a list of resources and will share those on our website as soon as possible. We will not initiate eviction if you cannot pay your rent because of the pandemic.
- We are hoping to be able to communicate shortly by email or text message. Please stay tuned for this.
- We have increased the number of times that we wipe down common areas, elevators, door handles, laundry rooms and other places in your building.
- Lastly, please stay safe and make sure you wash your hands upon entering your apartment. Keep your hands away from your face, and practice social distancing. If you feel ill, please limit contact with others.
These are challenging times, but we want you to know that we are doing everything we can and we will keep you informed of our efforts.
[Saturday, March 14, 2020, 1:30pm]
CHT continues to monitor news reports and are working to implement best practices in response to COVID-19. Our staff’s safety and the safety of the people we work with is of utmost importance.
Starting sometime on Monday, we will be closing our doors to the public. All of our offices will be closed to visitors, and staff have been instructed to make alternative arrangements to carry out their business. Activities such as counseling appointments and meetings with tenants, among others, will all done by phone or video conference. Staff will be in touch with clients and residents to make arrangements.
An intercom should be in place at the front door at 88 King Street in Burlington on Monday.
We encourage any payments, submission of applications or other documents to be done through the mail, deposited in our mail slot or filed/paid electronically.
We will continue to refine our plans for essential functions and will communicate that in the coming days.
In the meantime, general guidance for both staff and the general public:
• Stay home if you’re sick, and if you have a fever, contact your medical provider.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
• Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
• Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.
• Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with your sleeve or a tissue, not your hands.
Please stay safe.
[Thursday, March 12]
CHT continues to monitor the COVID-19 virus. We are regularly updating our procedures and protocols to insure our residents and staff are safe. Staff are being advised to monitor their own health and to take extra precautions.
In our efforts to maintain a healthy environment for staff and residents, we ask that if you are feeling ill to please stay home and not come into our offices in Burlington, St. Albans, or at our properties. If you need to meet or speak to a staff person, please call and speak to that person over the phone.
If you are a renter, there are options to pay your rent online through the resident portal, mail in your rent or drop it into one of our drop boxes.
When you have a request for maintenance please let us know if you are ill and have any of the following symptoms so that our technicians can be prepared: fever, cough, or shortness of breath.
We may get to the point where we are only responding to emergencies, such as no heat, no hot water, fire or leaking water. If this happens, we will communicate that decision.
And you may be tired of hearing it by now, but the emphasis on hand washing comes from the fact that the virus breaks down well in soap and water. Scrubbing for twenty seconds and keeping your hands away from your face as much as you can are important steps in stopping the spread of the virus.
Up to date information on the situation in Vermont can be found at the Vermont Department of Health's website.
We provided the following message to residents of Shelburne yesterday (Saturday, March 21, 2020) via Front Porch Forum:
We have all heard that the most effective tool to stop the spread of the coronavirus is social distancing and washing hands. These prevention measures are virtually impossible for people living in a shelter, in an encampment, or on the streets. Without options for these prevention measures, we won't be able to effectively control the spread of COVID-19 anywhere, or do what's necessary to flatten the curve of those becoming sick.
Champlain Housing Trust is working with the State of Vermont and the UVM Medical Center to use the motel rooms at Harbor Place to provide isolation for those exhibiting symptoms of the virus, but not those who have tested positive. We are working with Town of Shelburne officials to address community concerns and protect public health.
Over the next week or so, the State will be establishing roughly 380 rooms across Vermont for people who are homeless and are exhibiting symptoms/presumptive positive cases, where hospital treatment is unnecessary but the individual needs to be isolated.
In addition, numerous Congregate Recovery Centers (CRC) will be established throughout the State. The CRC is a facility for medical respite/shelter for people who tested positive and/or are being released from the hospital for COVID-19 treatment. Harbor Place is NOT one of these centers, and any guests at Harbor Place testing positive for COVID-19 will be moved to a CRC or the Medical Center.
The sole purpose is to prevent the spread of the coronavirus more broadly.
What you should know:
- Current guests are being relocated to other motels in the region by the State.
- We are immediately prohibiting all visitors at Harbor Place
- We are planning for food for guests. We are still figuring out the best way for the community to help with this effort.
- We are adding security and fencing to help reinforce the need for guests to stay on site.
A more comprehensive management plan and protocols will be posted on our website and shared here in the next couple of days.
We understand that this may cause concern for some. Please know that we are responding quickly to this crisis because we fear by waiting we could see exactly what's happening in Italy now. This is a concerted effort, coordinated by the State, to prevent the virus from spreading further.
New Apartments, Located Midway Between Al’s French Frys and
Healthy Living, Help New City Center Take Shape
South Burlington, Vermont – City and State leaders clipped the ribbon on 60 new apartments in South Burlington as part of a long-planned – and now coming to life – new City Center.
The apartments, named Garden Street Apartments, were developed by Snyder Braverman Development Company with an agreement to sell the building to the Champlain Housing Trust and Housing Vermont. The apartments will remain affordable forever.
“It’s great to be here halfway between Al’s French Frys and Healthy Living celebrating these new apartments,” said City Council President Helen Riehle. “We’ll keep getting together to celebrate the progress in City Center 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 the proceeds from Housing for All revenue bond proposed by the Governor and enacted by the Legislature in 2017.
The apartments were built at the corner of Market Street, which was recently completed, 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 of South Burlington established one of only a few affordable housing trust funds in the State, and has contributed $150,000 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.
“Thanks to a great team and a superior location near jobs, transportation and services, we were able to raise private equity and public capital to create beautiful new homes for people who cannot otherwise afford to live in South Burlington, said Nancy Owens, President of Housing Vermont. We’re excited to be part of an inclusive community project which offers economic stability and new opportunities for residents.”
People started moving into the 60 apartments in the last month. There are 26 one-bedroom, 20 two-bedroom, 11 three-bedroom, and three four-bedroom apartments. Rent includes heat and hot water, and are targeted to be affordable to wide range of incomes:
1BR apartments $713 to $1,080/month
2BR apartments $861 to $1,375/month
3BR apartments $990 to $1,750/month
4BR apartments $1,230 to $1,950/month
For more information on renting, visit the Champlain Housing Trust website at https://www.getahome.org/garden-st.
CHT is excited to bring Dr. Theresa Williamson of Catalytic Communities to Burlington for a presentation and discussion on how the community land trust model is addressing housing insecurity in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro as part of our 35th anniversary celebration. The event will be at Contois Auditorium at Burlington’s City Hall from 7pm to 8:30 on Thursday, November 14. It is free to the public and all are welcome to attend.
Her presentation, “Could Community Land Trusts be the Answer to the Housing Crisis in the Global South?”, draws and builds upon models developed here in Burlington and will be followed by a panel of guests including CHT’s Brenda Torpy; John Emmeus Davis who has traveled the world consulting on CLTs; and City Councilor Brian Pine, who was Burlington’s Housing Director for years.
The CLT model has shown itself to be resilient and adaptable, without ever losing its core tenets and clear objective: guaranteeing permanently affordable housing that builds community. With the price of land escalating worldwide and threatening people's access to shelter, Community Land Trusts are now being explored more than ever as a way to protect vulnerable communities. In Brazil, residents of the informal settlements knowns as favelas are considering and applying the CLT model after-the-fact. In this talk specially developed for her visit to the Champlain Housing Trust, Dr. Williamson will present the historical realities and current struggles of Rio de Janeiro's favelas, and how a model so close to home may just offer a revolutionary solution to communities half a world away.
Theresa Williamson, Ph.D. is a city planner and founding executive director of Catalytic Communities (CatComm), an NGO working to support Rio de Janeiro’s favelas through asset-based community development. She is a longtime advocate for the recognition of the favelas’ heritage status and their residents’ right to be treated as equal citizens, has received numerous awards and has been published several times including four op-eds in The New York Times.
Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman, Senate President Tim Ashe, and Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger were among the elected officials that celebrated the opening of 76 new affordable apartments in Burlington Monday.
“Too many Vermonters struggle with housing costs, the largest piece of most families’ budgets. I am pleased to celebrate this opening and recognize its part in meeting our statewide goals of affordable and inclusive housing,” said Lt. Governor Zuckerman.
The building was developed by Housing Vermont and Champlain Housing Trust, with the Housing Trust leasing up and managing the building. The first tenants moved in September 20; as of Monday, virtually all the apartments were taken.
“These new apartments are literally in my neighborhood, so I know how desperately needed they are. More than a hundred people will have a high-quality, affordable new home once the moving trucks have come and gone. I know first-hand as someone who has developed affordable housing how important this is. It’s just what we hoped for when we passed the state housing bond,” added Senator Ashe.
The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board provided close to $2 million, or close to 10%, of the overall cost of the development, including funding from the Housing for All Revenue Bond of 2017 and the National Housing Trust Fund. A significant piece of the funding came from the Low Income Housing Tax Credit allocated by the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, with People’s United Bank as an investor. Several other funders such as NeighborWorks® America contributed to the financing, and the City of Burlington committed funds through their Housing Trust Fund federal HOME Program resources.
“Housing impacts everything that we want and need to do in our city. Even as we continue to work on policy reforms that will make homes more available and affordable for Burlingtonians, it is so exciting to see these 76 new, permanently affordable homes open up at the Laurentide Apartments,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “I am proud that the City has been a partner in creating this new mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood from the beginning. I can’t wait to meet the Burlingtonians who have already moved in to these apartments, and to see this become a home for many.”
Laurentide Apartments is part of a larger, mixed-use, mixed income neighborhood under development along with a new public park on 28 acres along North Avenue. In all, about 800 new homes will be constructed over the next several years. With Burlington’s inclusionary zoning ordinance, a quarter will be permanently affordable. The average rent for a two-bedroom, income-restricted apartment is about $1,000 including heat and hot water – which is more than $500 lower than the Fair Market Rent in the region.
People with a range of incomes have moved in or are moving in to the new apartments, including 14 households who are moving out of homelessness and several apartments that are set aside for those earning above what federal programs are normally allowed to serve, yet cannot find an affordable apartment in the tight Chittenden County housing market.
The Champlain Housing Trust and Turning Point Center of Chittenden County jointly announced transfer of ownership of 179 South Winooski Avenue in downtown Burlington, a building which Turning Point Center of Chittenden County has leased for several months with the intent to buy. The purchase Tuesday for $850,000 allows for the programs and nonprofits operating in the building to continue to thrive.
The building has a rich history in providing service to the community. In 1993 several nonprofits came together with the support of the City of Burlington, state and federal agencies and hundreds of donors to create office and program space for their organizations. The Champlain Housing Trust, one of the original nonprofits, stewarded the building for this use over the years. Its facilitation of the transfer of the property to Turning Point allows for a continuation of this commitment to the community.
“We have been so excited to be here,” said Gary De Carolis, Executive Director of Turning Point Center of Chittenden County. “Being able to own this facility, at this location, is helping us achieve our mission and gives us security down the road. We very much appreciate working with the Champlain Housing Trust on this purchase.”
As a celebration of the missions of the two organizations and to mark the Champlain Housing Trust’s 35th anniversary, artist Tara Goreau has been commissioned to create a mural on the building’s south wall illustrating the community bonds that are reflected in the groups’ missions of housing and recovery. The housing trust and the Turning Point Center will be organizing volunteers – no experience needed or expected – to assist with the painting of the mural on the afternoon of Friday, August 16. Those who are interested should contact Jack Commo at 861-7399.
Turning Point Center of Chittenden County is a peer run recovery center for those in recovery from alcohol and/or drug addiction. The Center wants to thank the over 100 donors who made this dream become reality. Special recognition to the Stiller Family, The Hoehl Family Foundation and the University of Vermont Medical Center, Community Investment Fund for their significant contributions.
Champlain Housing Trust offers affordable apartments to rent and homes to buy throughout Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties in northwest Vermont. It also owns and manages several community and commercial buildings, offers financial education and counseling programs, affordable loans and a range of other services to help residents succeed.
The Champlain Housing Trust announced today that it had closed on the permanent financing for its efforts to transform the St. Joseph School into the Old North End Community Center. The $8.8 million transaction secured $2.6 million in federal tax credits by leveraging several other local funding sources.
CHT will now initiate construction and ensure that rents remain affordable for the nonprofit tenants and public uses. Just two weeks ago CHT announced a lead gift of $500,000 from Trey and Dominique Pecor. Since then, $90,000 in donations have come in, leaving just $110,000 to raise from the community to finalize the $8.8 million project.
The Community Center itself required a “community” of financing to close, including:
Charitable gifts & grants ($2.2 million)
Vermont Community Loan Fund (loan, $2 million)
Vermont Community Foundation (loan, $500,000)
Commons Energy (loan, $500,000)
Public grants, including City of Burlington ($777,000)
Energy Conservation grants from Vermont Gas and Burlington Electric ($100,000)
Owner financing ($185,000)
“TD Bank and its Community Capital Group are proud to assist Champlain Housing Trust with this very important redevelopment of the community center which provides critical services for those who need it most in Burlington,” said Phil Daniels, Market President-Commercial for Vermont, TD Bank. “This development will be a space where the community can continue to develop and thrive, and it will contribute to a larger initiative to revitalize this neighborhood and enhance its economic growth.” TD Bank’s funding assistance includes conventional commercial financing and an equity investment under the New Market Tax Credit Program closed by Jonathan Campbell, Vice President in the Community Capital Group.
Vermont Rural Ventures’ allocation of the federal New Markets Tax Credit Program leveraged almost a third of the overall project costs. “We wanted to invest in the Old North End Community Center because the programs strengthen and support low income people in the community where they live,” said Nancy Owens, President of Vermont Rural Ventures, a subsidiary of Housing Vermont.
The Old North End Community Center is home to a wide range of programs offered by several nonprofits and the City of Burlington. The school closed in 2010 and when it was going to go on the market, existing nonprofit tenants asked the Housing Trust to step in and purchase the building to prevent the displacement of their programs. The addition of the Burlington Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Department as a tenant solidified the prospects of a fully occupied community center in the heart of Burlington.
“The City of Burlington is fully committed to the Center, as demonstrated by both its lease and Community Development Block Grant program allocations,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “Congratulations and appreciation goes out to all the partners that have come together to move this transformational and challenging project along.”
“The Vermont Community Loan Fund is pleased to play a role in this dynamic project that will lift up the lives of so many Vermonters, from young to old, from long-time resident to New Americans,” said Will Belongia, Executive Director of the loan fund. VCLF also provided initial financing for the acquisition of the school by CHT in 2017.
The Vermont Community Foundation made an early investment as well to help with the purchase and make accessibility modifications to the building by installing an elevator. Dan Smith, CEO, added, “Projects like this provides so much more than just programs. They provide a place to connect, a place to belong. The Foundation has been elevating our focus on mission investing in Vermont and this investment reflects our core values and our vision for Vermont communities.”
With significant upgrades to heating, cooling and electrical systems, there were significant grants and investments from the energy sector. Commons Energy made a $500,000 loan and provided technical assistance to facilitate these upgrades. “This old, historic building is beautiful and teeming with activity. It’s also an excellent example of how we can invest in better systems that not only address climate change but will make the space more comfortable – and more affordable – for the users and owners,” said Matt Dooley of Commons Energy.
Work is underway, coordinated by J.A. Morrissey, Inc with tenants managing amongst the construction.
“With the closing behind us, we turn to managing the construction and asking the community to support this amazing project to help us meet our fundraising goal,” said Brenda Torpy, CEO of the Trust. “We are so thankful to have so many partners and so many donors get us to this point.”
To find out more, and to find out how to contribute, visit www.getahome.org/st-joes.
A $500,000 gift has been pledged by Trey & Dominique Pecor to the Old North End Community Center Campaign, campaign committee Chair Peter Clavelle announced today.
“This is a very significant pledge of support – the largest in the campaign. This generosity will support generations of people from Burlington and beyond gain access to programs that build community and support our basic needs,” said Clavelle, a volunteer leading the campaign.
The Champlain Housing Trust purchased the former St. Joseph School on Allen Street in Burlington to create Old North End Community Center in July, 2017. The organization has secured funding to make initial improvements to the building – such as adding an elevator to make it accessible, the installation of a new commercial kitchen and expanded parking – while seeking permanent financing and capital campaign contributions to make more significant renovations to the Center.
“For me, supporting such a great community building was a no-brainer,” explained Trey and Dominique Pecor in a statement. “Our family has enjoyed the benefits of this City and region immensely and for the two of us it’s really a privilege to be in a position to give back in this way.”
With the pledge from the Pecors, the campaign has raised $2 million and is turning to the community to raise the last $200,000. The gym in the center of the building will be named “The Pecor Family Gymnasium and Performance Hall.”
“The Old North End Community Center is a wonderful new resource for the Old North End and the entire city. I have believed in this project from the start, and I am excited to see the next phase in its evolution. Thank you to Trey and Dominique for giving a critical boost to this community effort,” Mayor Miro Weinberger added.
While the building is solid, CHT must invest in upgrading heating and cooling, new wiring, windows, and water systems, including sprinklers. The building serves an estimated 4,000 people a year through the programs of the tenants including The Family Room, Robin’s Nest Children’s Center, AALV and the Burlington Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Department – as well as a variety of community events in the building. The Parks Department also runs senior center activities and leases space to others such as Very Merry Theatre and the City and Lake Semester program.
“We now turn our sights to raising the remaining $200,000 and closing on our permanent financing,” added Brenda Torpy, CHT’s CEO. “I thank Trey and Dominique, the many other donors that have already supported this vision, and all the volunteers that have made gifts and given their time thus far. The community has been so generous so far, and I know they’ll be there with us to finish up the campaign for such a great community resource.”
For more information about giving, call Chris Donnelly at the Housing Trust at 861-7305.