By Brent Addleman | The Center Square
Existing and under-utilized housing structures around the state will be getting a facelift through the Vermont Housing Improvement Program, Gov. Phil Scott said.
The governor announced in a news release his office is working with the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development, and other state-wide partners, in an effort to bring dilapidated housing units back into use at a cost of $5 million. The program will use prior rental rehabilitation dollars and help renters and property owners needing the most assistance.
“Expanding the housing stock has been a top priority of me and my team, investing more than any Administration in history,” Scott said in the release. “In addition to building new housing, VHIP will be critical for bringing housing that has fallen into disrepair back online, helping provide more housing for the workforce, lift people out of homelessness, and aid in the transformational change we are seeking to create stronger communities.”
Funding for the program, according to the release, stems from the American Rescue Plan Act and is being invested in aging housing units. VHIP is providing grants of up to $30,000 per unit and require a 20% match in order to bring units back into compliance with housing codes and getting them ready for the marketplace.
According to the release, the first round of grants will go to those renters who are seeking permanent housing.
“Throughout the course of the pandemic many businesses received financial assistance, but one of the populations that has been overlooked is the mom-and-pop landlords across the state. We designed this program for the long run with the success of the landlord and the tenant in mind,” Housing and Community Development Commissioner Josh Hanford said in the release. “With this program, you are creating permanent housing and improving neighborhoods.”
Currently, the program is partnering with Champlain Housing Trust, Rural Edge, Downstreet Housing and Community Development, Windham and Windsor Housing Trust, and Neighborworks of Western Vermont, according to the release.
“We are working from the ground up, addressing the needs of the most vulnerable,” Shaun Gilpin Housing and Community Development Housing Division director said. “We have been working with Vermont’s five homeownership centers to create a new program that is based on successful models and improves upon past efforts to bring more housing on-line.”