Thursday October 05, 2017
Market Street was the setting for a news conference last week to mark the accomplishments of a five year plan to answer the increasing demand for more housing in Chittenden County. Housing Vermont, Champlain Housing Trust, and the Chittenden County Regional Planning Coalition joined forces in 2016 to create the Building Homes Together Campaign, with the goal of adding 3500 new homes to the housing stock over five years. In their first year, the campaign far exceeded its goal with 916 new homes. Thursday, September 28, in the heart of what is designated as South Burlington’s City Center, Governor Phil Scott was joined by City Manager Kevin Dorn, municipal officials, lawmakers, nonprofit leaders and developers for the announcement.
The 916 new homes included in the first year tally include accessory dwellings, assisted living apartments, apartments and homes for sale. However, while the total number of new homes nearly doubles the previous yearly rate, the number of affordable homes fell far short of the 20% goal, with only 69 new affordable homes or 8% of the total added in 2016.
Governor Phil Scott referred to a $35 million bond approved by the state to support housing projects through a grant program, which includes affordable housing.
“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.”
Governor Scott went on to say that he believes the $35 million dollar bond will ultimately generate more than $100 million in housing starts.
Building Homes Together thinks that the number of affordable housing units, while lagging behind in this first year, will catch up over the remaining years of the project.
In 2018, the first affordable homes will be built using the bond funding.
Non-profit organizations described willingness to build over 300 affordable homes almost immediately.
Looking ahead, it appears there will be approximately 360 new rentals added to the market in 2017 with 52 of them affordable. “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.”
Dorn highlighted a successful new housing development that is breaking ground within two weeks on Market Street. Allard Square is an apartment building for seniors, offering 39 one and two bedroom apartments with a mix of affordable and market rate rent. The housing development is being built by Snyder Braverman and is owned and managed by Cathedral Square. Funding totaling more than $10 million was raised from numerous sources including the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, People’s United Bank, Vermont Community Development Program, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, HOME Investment Partnership, South Burlington Housing Trust Fund, TD Charitable Foundation, and the Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation.
With the removal of nearly 200 homes in the airport neighborhood, South Burlington is keenly aware of the need for affordable housing stock. Chair of South Burlington’s Affordable Housing Committee John Simson said, “It was a nice event and good to see South Burlington in the spotlight for not only being the site of Allard Square, a major Cathedral Square senior housing project in City Center, but also recognition of our Housing Trust Fund’s contribution of $100k to the project. I was also pleased with Governor Scott’s remarks and his understanding of the place affordable housing has in moving our economy forward and his effort with the Legislature to provide a $35 million bond issue for housing. Our Affordable Housing Committee is working on more initiatives to see additional housing built that is affordable to people working in the city and our seniors.”