Vermont Housing and Community Development Commissioner Josh Hanford wants to renovate old homes in urban cores to help reduce Vermont’s housing shortage.
By Guy Page
While new construction of highly expensive low-income housing has received much of the funding and publicity, a program to renovate older, existing housing has added hundreds of housing units to Vermont’s tight housing market, Vermont Housing and Community Development Commissioner Josh Hanford said in West Rutland yesterday.
Hanford was speaking at a press conference with Gov. Phil Scott and local officials, including Mayor David Allaire.
Hanford has long been a vocal proponent of restoring large urban housing units “up to code” as a cost-effective alternative to paying housing vouchers for motels or building expensive new low-income housing from scratch.
First, Hanford noted that state spending has helped triple the number of affordable (for the occupants) new homes.
“During the last 2 years, due to the historic investments called for by the Governor and the Legislature, we have been able to triple the number of affordable homes built per year compared to pre-2020 levels. Over $300 million has been dedicated to building more affordable housing,” Hanford said.
Then he dived into the state’s success rehabbing existing housing. It’s no accident that the press conference was held in Rutland County, where the ‘urban core’ has numerous properties that would provide much-needed low-income housing, if only they were brought up to code.
“Of those funds, $20 million has been dedicated to the continuation of the successful Vermont Housing Improvement Program (VHIP),” Hanford said. “Due to the affordability of VHIP, we have been able to get more units online and at a faster rate than if we were just building new construction. This program highlights the opportunities that exist in our historic neighborhoods to provide the affordable housing we need and improve the communities we call home.
As of August 30, 329 units previously vacant units have been brought online or approved for rehabilitation through VHIP with about three-quarters of the units being utilized to rehouse homeless Vermonters, Hanford said.
He praised a local not-for-profit’s efforts in the Rutland area.
“I would like to highlight the great work that has been done by NeighborWorks of Western Vermont,” Hanford said. “As early adopters of VHIP, their team has helped 83 VHIP units come online. That is 83 rehoused families.”
Categories: State Government