State News

Vermont Housing Improvement Program added 547 new affordable units in three years

 

Governor Scott and the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) are celebrating the success of more than three years of the Vermont Housing Improvement Program (VHIP) as DHCD launches VHIP 2.0.

“The Vermont Housing Improvement Program has been incredibly successful and an essential tool expanding Vermont’s housing stock,” said Governor Scott. “By bringing existing units that have fallen into disrepair back online, we create housing at a fraction of the cost and much faster than other programs, while also revitalizing neighborhoods.”

VHIP and VHIP 2.0 are a cost-effective and reliable way to bring housing units online quickly. The programs grant an average of $38,400 to get one apartment up and running, compared to the $450,000 to $600,000 it costs to build one new unit.

VHIP (which was initially called the Re-Housing Recovery Program) sprang to life in September 2020 and was funded with federal dollars. The program offered grants to landlords for up to $50,000 per rental unit. The money could be used to bring existing units up to code, add new units to an existing building, or create an accessory dwelling unit on an owner-occupied property. Tenants of these properties had to be exiting homelessness and the property had to be rented at an affordable rate for five years.

Vermont launched VHIP 2.0 on March 25, 2024. This program is very similar to VHIP with three major differences:

It is funded with a one-time allocation of $20 million state dollars instead of federal Covid money;

The property must be rented at an affordable rate for 10 years instead of five years; and

Tenants must qualify for affordable housing but do not need to be exiting homelessness.

“Vermont needs more housing units of all kinds, including affordable housing,” said DHCD Commissioner Alex Farrell. “With VHIP and VHIP 2.0, landlords get help bringing their units up-to-date and more Vermonters are able to secure an affordable place to live. We’re excited to continue this good work.”

Here’s a look at VHIP’s accomplishments from September 2020 to date:

Affordable units brought online: 547

Units under construction: 399

79 ADUs being built

320 units being rehabbed

Applications under consideration: 80

Dollars invested in new affordable housing: $12,000,000

Average grant per unit: $38,400

VHIP is making a difference throughout Vermont with the most units created and rehabilitated in Windham, followed by Rutland County. In total there were 332 units created and rehabilitated. Below is the distribution of units by county that received VHIP funds from Jan. 1, 2022 to March 25, 2024:

Windham: 72

Rutland: 41

Franklin: 40

Washington: 39

Chittenden: 37

Windsor: 33

Bennington: 30

Addison: 10

Orange: 9

Orleans: 7

Grand Isle: 5

Essex   5

Lamoille: 3

Caledonia: 1

 

Landlords, like Maggie Weiss in Washington County, sing the praises of VHIP and are excited to keep participating in VHIP 2.0.

“We turned a blighted duplex into safe, affordable rental housing for two families in need of permanent housing,” said Weiss, who owns two three-bedroom units in Barre.

Weiss used VHIP to renovate kitchens and bathrooms; make plumbing, heating, and electrical upgrades; refinish wood floors; install new exterior doors; correct all electrical and fire safety code violations; install a safety and privacy fence and add a stone walkway and steps to improve access to the front entryway.

Weiss says she would recommend VHIP 2.0 to other landlords and is proud to offer families with housing assistance vouchers safe, comfortable rental housing without judgment.

“We are former recipients of housing assistance who have experienced rental housing discrimination based on our use of assistance programs, housing insecurity, and the stresses of trying to secure rental housing in very tight rental housing markets,” said Weiss. “We appreciate that, without permanent housing, it is difficult to work toward personal goals and provide oneself and any family a good quality of life.”

For more information visit: accd.vermont.gov/vhip.

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