Funding from the American Rescue Plan is in addition to the state’s annual award of $3.4 million
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.) announced Monday, April 12, that Vermont has received more than $11 million in additional funding for affordable housing construction under the American Rescue Plan Act, through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME). This includes more than $9.5 million for the state of Vermont and $1.5 million for the city of Burlington. This new funding is in addition to the $3.4 million received by the state and Burlington in February.
HOME provides flexible housing funding to states and localities around the country. In Vermont, HOME funding is administered by the city of Burlington and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. Past HOME awards have been used to construct rental housing for low- and very-low-income Vermonters, increasing affordability and improving housing security. These new funds are targeted to people experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, homelessness.
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated Vermont’s affordable housing crisis. Pandemic safety guidelines have necessitated moving housing-insecure individuals out of shelters, and more than 2,700 Vermonters, including more than 400 children, are currently residing in hotels and motels. Using these federal funds to build more affordable housing will help ensure that these unhoused Vermonters can transition from emergency shelters into stable, permanent homes.
Leahy, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, said: “The American Rescue Plan Act has provided vital funding to help Vermonters meet their immediate needs, as well as long-term funding that can be used to make sure that we are stronger after this crisis ends. Vermont has a chance to dramatically reduce homelessness in the state, and an important part of that is making sure that there are enough affordable homes. This HOME funding is part of our chance to build those homes and provide safe, secure and affordable housing for Vermonters in need.”
Sanders, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, said: “It is absolutely unacceptable that over 580,000 Americans, including thousands of Vermonters, are homeless on a given night. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure the 2,700 Vermonters currently sheltering in motels can move into permanent housing, rather than returning to homelessness. To my mind, there is no question that housing is a human right and we must do better to ensure its availability for all our people. That is why, as Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, I will work to ensure any legislation to address our nation’s infrastructure and climate change includes a substantial investment in affordable housing.”
Welch said: “The American Rescue Plan brings much needed individual relief to families and businesses across Vermont and makes important long-term investments to protect the most vulnerable. This critical funding for the HOME program will help transition unhoused Vermonters to permanent housing, protecting them from disease and helping them build a better, sustainable future for themselves as we slowly recover from this terrible virus.”
HOME is the largest federal block grant to state and local governments designed exclusively to create affordable housing for low-income households. Vermont has received more than $83 million in HOME funding since the program was established in 1992, assisting in the construction of thousands of affordable housing units.