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.
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.