Housing Trust Partners with USDA to Provide Home Loans
Amanda Witman pursued homeownership to bring stability and root her four children in their community.
She worked with the Housing Trust for years to build her financial capacity and, when at last she was mortgage ready, she worked with us to purchase her home with a USDA Single Family Housing Direct Home Loan. In March 15 she closed on a home for her-self and her family on a quiet street in their hometown.
A new partnership between USDA Rural Development and our HomeOwnership center helped Amanda achieve her dream of homeownership. She spoke with gratitude about how WWHT shepherded her through the mortgage application and advocated for her through the process. She said that the close relationship between WWHT and USDA Rural Development helped create a seamless process over the years from when she first started building her financial capacity with the goal of homeownership to the snowy day when she closed on her new home.
For Amanda, her home represents permanence. There is a sunlit kitchen where her teenage children gather, and a comfortable living room where a wood stove keeps the family warm and content. Homeownership allows Amanda to invest not only in her home, but in the community where she works and where her children learn. The family is deeply entwined in Brattleboro’s vibrant arts community participating in dance, music and circus arts. For Amanda, homeownership is setting down roots; for Brattleboro, homeowners like Amanda are the building blocks of the community.
Addressing Homelessness Is No Easy Task
Our Fall Newsletter this year highlighted Vermont State Governor Peter Shumlin’s Executive Order for all “owners of housing that receive state fund to make available at least 15% of their portfolio of housing units to Vermonters experiencing homelessness.” While our records demonstrated that we exceed that target, our Board of Directors took the extra step to add the goal of reducing homelessness to our strategic plan.
To that end, our staff has been joining forces with Groundworks Collaborative, Health Care Rehabilitation Services, and other local non-profits to plan the development of apartments using the Permanent Supportive Housing model. The PSH model has been proven to reduce homelessness and increase housing stability, while also improving resident health and lowering public costs by reducing the use of publicly-funded crisis services, including shelters, hospitals, and psychiatric centers.
How does PSH do this? By removing preconditions to housing. Studies have shown that when people are given a roof over their heads first, they are more able to tackle other life challenges, like getting clean and sober, keeping a job, or being proactive about their mental health. Services provided on site include life skills, budgeting and financial “fitness”, mental health counseling and more. By providing voluntary services on site, any barriers to residents’ ability to receive these services are removed.
WWHT hopes to break ground at our new PSH site, where the Lamplighter Inn in Brattleboro now stands, summer 2014. We are seeking funding now. Representatives from WWHT recently attended a Brattleboro Selectboard meeting to discuss this project and to request town support. You can read more about that meeting in this article in the Brattleboro Reformer.
Harlem Gospel Choir Set to Come to Brattleboro
We are thrilled to announce Harlem Gospel Choir’s upcoming performance at Latchis Theatre in Brattleboro, Vermont to benefit Windham & Windsor Housing Trust. The event, held on October 22nd, 2016 at 7:30pm, is sure to be a real crowd-pleaser for audience members of all ages. For more information, visit our event page:
More Affordable Housing Proposed for Putney
The Putney Affordable Housing Committee recently held an informational meeting for community members to learn about a new proposed project. Connie Snow of the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust and Bob Stevens of Stevens & Associates Engineering were on hand to present plans and answer questions about the proposal to bring more affordable apartments to Putney.
The project proposes the construction of new housing on the Newman Hall lot, which is located between Depot Street and Putney Landing Road, as well as the rehabilitation of the Noyes House on Kimball Hill. The plan would include a mix of family and smaller apartments for a total of 18 apartments with a combination of townhouses and accessible flats. Check out the video of the meeting which BCTV has posted on their website!
Windham & Windsor Housing Trust is participating in #GivingTuesday!
We are participating for the first time in #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving. Last year, more than 30,000 organizations in 68 countries came together to celebrate GivingTuesday. Since its founding in 2012, #GivingTuesday has inspired giving around the world, resulting in greater donations, volunteer hours, and activities that bring about real change in communities.
We invite you to join the movement on December 1. Your gift will make a big impact on the people we serve. For example, a $100 donation would cover the cost of two WWHT classes: Homebuyer Education and Money Talks. Homebuyer Education classes take individuals step by step through the entire process of purchasing a home and include one-on-one sessions with our housing experts, while the Money Talks classes help individuals identify and reach their financial goals.
Be a part of the celebration and visit our donation page to give back to your community!
Windsor Village Receives Efficiency Vermont Award
Proving that you can tame an energy hog, Windsor Village won an award in Efficiency Vermont’s Best of the Best in Commercial Building Design & Construction contest. The award was presented on February 5 at Efficiency Vermont’s annual Better Buildings by Design conference in Burlington.
Windsor Village, built in 1808 as a state prison, was converted to housing in 1978. Housing Vermont and the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust renovated the historic 77-unit complex in 2012. Sharply cutting the annual consumption of 35,000 gallons of fuel oil and improving resident comfort were clear priorities in the nearly $5.5 million makeover.
The rehabilitation focused on a deep energy retrofit and included the installation of energy-saving windows, enhanced insulation, solar panels to preheat domestic hot water, a wood pellet-fired boiler, and improvements to sealing and ventilation.
Banwell Architects designed the renovations and Ingram Construction was the construction manager.
Governor Shumlin Awards Federal Housing Grants
WWHT and the Town of Brattleboro were awarded $1 million from the Vermont Community Development Program for the purpose of rehabilitating existing housing in Windham County; an additional $271,000 was awarded to WWHT and the Town of Wilmington for rehabilitation there. Governor Peter Shumlin presented the award, along with a third to the Town of Thetford, on December 4, 2013 during a small ceremony held in Brattleboro. The money awarded to Brattleboro will be used to recapitalize WWHT’s Rehab Loan Fund, a program that helps homeowners make necessary home improvements such as replacing a roof or a septic system. The money designated for Wilmington will be used to upgrade LaTerre House, WWHT’s multifamily property located on Main Street in Wilmington.
SASH Program Off to a Great Start
In early 2013 WWHT rolled out a brand new program in Windsor: Support and Services at Home, or SASH, which provides coordinated in-home support for older adults and disabled young people. Denise Dupuis, WWHT SASH Coordinator, has been running the program since it began in May. Says Dupuis, “It has been a very promising start to this important program for Windsor!”
H.E.A.T. Squad Comes to Town
Windham & Windsor Housing Trust is partnering with NeighborWorks of Western Vermont to bring H.E.A.T. Squad services to homeowners in Windham and Windsor counties. The program helps customers of all income levels every step of the way to a comfortable and affordable home—from education and orientation, to scheduling an energy audit, to managing and even financing energy efficiency improvements (single family residences and multi-family residences up to four units). The H.E.A.T. Squad works in partnership with Efficiency Vermont and helps homeowners understand, navigate, and access Efficiency Vermont’s award-winning suite of services and incentives.
Preserving Great Housing
In 2014 WWHT will begin a process called Portfolio Enhancement. We’ll be upgrading our existing rental properties – some of the upgrades will be cosmetic – such as paint and landscaping; many will be energy efficiency upgrades – such as weatherization, installing pellet boilers and solar panels. Portfolio Enhancement proposes to rehabilitate 12 historic buildings and to preserve 72 affordable apartments— critically needed housing opportunities. For over 25 years these buildings have been providing decent, affordable homes to a wide variety of households. We are happy to say these properties will be providing great housing for many years to come!
Healthy Homes Grants & Education
Made Available to Local Homeowners
In October, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded a $1.7 million grant to the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB) to fund Healthy Homes Vermont. This program is being implemented via housing agencies like WWHT in many areas of the nation. It’s aimed primarily at air quality issues and asthma triggers, the causes of which tend to be interrelated with other household hazards. The Healthy Homes initiative will address health and safety hazards in housing (predominantly serving lower income single family homeowners) through rehabilitation grants.
Housing Counseling Pays Off
In February, NeighborWorks® America released the results of new research on the effectiveness of prepurchase housing counseling and education. The research shows homebuyers who received such counseling were one-third less likely to fall behind on their
mortgages 90 days or more, two years after taking out the loan, compared to homebuyers who didn’t receive similar counseling and education.
EPA Recognizes Brattleboro Food Co-op, Windham & Windsor Housing Trust and Housing Vermont with 2012 Smart Growth Achievement Award
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced four winners of the 2012 Smart Growth Achievement Awards. In a national competition among 47 applicants from 25 states, the Brattleboro Food Co-op, the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust and Housing Vermont won the Main Street Revitalization category for their development of a new, energy efficient building for the co-op with 24 apartments on the upper stories. The winning entries were chosen based on their effectiveness in creating sustainable communities, fostering equitable development among public, private, and non-profit stakeholders and serving as national models for environmentally and economically sustainable development. The EPA will recognize the winning organizations at a ceremony in Washington D.C. on December 5.
For more information on the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement awards please visit http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/awards/sg_awards_publication_2012.htm#corridor
On the Radio
WWHT on WTSA: Connie Snow talks about collaborating with the Brattleboro Food Co-op to create affordable housing in downtown Brattleboro. Click to listen.