Where To Spend The Money? Board Holds Hearings On $35 Million Housing Bond

Sep 6, 2017

The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board has been holding public hearings to gather input on where the state should spend the $35 million that lawmakers approved this year for affordable housing.

The funding that lawmakers approved will help create or rehab up to 650 units across Vermont.

Gov. Phil Scott says the public hearings held this month will give the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board a chance to hear directly from housing advocates.

"We'd like to of course go to the places that are in need across the state," Scott says. "We'd like to disperse the money geographically because there is need, not just in Chittenden County, but throughout many, many counties in the state."

The money is earmarked for both ownership and rental housing, and awards will be based on community need, the applications received and the availability of additional resources to leverage the state money.

"I hope we can find projects that are viable, and somewhat ready to go, so that we can put this money to good use," says Scott. "I want to fulfill the need that I see for the working class, for those folks who are struggling to get by. They have opportunity, they have jobs, but they need a decent, affordable place to live."

Vermont Housing and Conservation Board policy director Jen Hollar says the board has already held four meetings.

Some communities need workforce housing, Hollar says, and others are looking at developing housing for the homeless or for people coming out of prison.

Hollar says the housing bond gives Vermont an historical opportunity to address the different needs across the state.

"The Housing For All revenue bond will be the biggest state investment in affordable housing in decades," Hollar says. "We're hopeful that 50 to 100 units may be under construction by the end of this year."

After it holds the six meetings, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board will begin selecting the projects.

The $35 million bond will be matched with state, federal, and private funding.
 

"We'd like to of course go to the places that are in need across the state. We'd like to disperse the money geographically because there is need, not just in Chittenden County, but throughout many, many counties in the state." - Gov. Phil Scott

And Hollar says in every community that wins a project, the entire housing market will benefit.

"What the research says and data show is that even if you can make a 5 or 10 percent change in a local housing market in terms of the number of available quality units, that has a big impact on the options that are available for Vermonters, as well as the rates of housing stability," she says.

The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board will hold the final meetings in Bellows Falls on Sept. 18, and in St. Johnsbury on Sept. 26.