Vt. officials highlight West Rutland housing rehab efforts

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 5:10 PM EDT
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WEST RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont officials are highlighting a home rehab program they say will be a key part of solving the state’s housing crisis.

State and local leaders were in West Rutland Wednesday highlighting millions in new housing investments aimed at bringing old housing back online.

The Vermont Housing Improvement Program gives property managers up to $50,000 per unit for rehab efforts. That includes renovating two and three-bedroom apartments in an 1800 vintage building on Marble Street back to life.

“This program is about the look in these families’ faces when they walk into a new apartment that six months before they would have never dreamed they could afford,” said Ryan Walton, a property manager involved in the West Rutland project. Walton’s unit is among those waiting to be revitalized.

A 2020 statewide analysis showed there were 19,000 sub-par units and officials say the majority rehabbed by the program will be considered affordable. ”All of the VHIP units have requirements that the rents be affordable to 80% of median income or below. It depends how large your household is but it would be termed affordable rents,” said Vermont Housing Commissioner Josh Hanford.

The VHIP program is getting another boost of $20 million approved by lawmakers last session. As of August, 329 units have been brought back online. A quarter of those has been carved out for Vermonters experiencing homelessness.

“This is the kind of initiative that will move the needle – an approach that is sustainable, provides more sustainability with a permanent home, and helps create capacity that benefits the entire rental market,” said Gov. Phil Scott.

The governor says that after the money dries up, the state needs to look at spurring housing in other ways including Act 250 and other local zoning and permitting reforms.

Brenda Siegel, the governor’s Democratic challenger in November, says she is releasing her own housing plan in the coming weeks. She says the state needs a short-term, transitional housing plan before looking at long-term investments.