BARRIE – The state government will invest $55.5 million in housing with the hope of seeing results within the next two to three years.
Republican Gov. Phil Scott and Treasurer Mike Pyciak announced Wednesday that the money will come from the “10% in Vermont” domestic investment program.
Under the program, the treasurer can invest no more than 10% of the state’s average daily cash balance in things he believes will improve the economy.
In April, Piciak announced an expansion of the program, noting that Vermont’s daily cash balance had increased significantly and its lending capacity had risen from $39 million to $100 million.
$50 million will go to the Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA), $5 million will go to the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA), with $500,000 going to the North Forest Center, Pisiak said at the press conference.
The $55.5 million is expected to raise another $340 million and ultimately create 1,100 new housing units, he said.
“It’s no secret that Vermont faces big challenges, and housing is a big challenge,” the governor said. “We have been focused on the lack of affordable housing since my first term in office, when we worked with the Legislature and created a $37 million housing bond that mobilized hundreds of millions in additional private investment, making it, at the time, the largest housing investment bond in the world. History of the state.
He said the pandemic has highlighted the state’s housing problem, prompting more investments.
“In my tenure as governor, we have seen a historic level of housing construction and more units put into operation than we have seen in decades, but we know it is still far from adequate, especially given the recent flooding,” he said.
Besides money, Scott said, regulatory reform will be needed to solve the housing crisis.
Pisiak said the housing shortage affected everyone and that these investments address nearly all levels and forms of housing, from homeownership to affordable rentals.
“I know when I talk to businesses all over Vermont, they talk about housing being their No. 1 challenge,” Piciak said. “They talk about how they want to expand their business, how they want to bring in new clients, but they can’t do it because they can’t find the workforce because their potential employees can’t find housing.”
The same applies to schools, hospitals and emergency services agencies, he said.
According to the Treasurer’s Office, of the $50 million from the VHFA Family Housing Fund to be distributed, $14 million will be allocated to new traditional affordable housing; $14 million will be allocated to economic impact housing; $6 million will be allocated to small developers in areas with housing shortages; Another $6 million will go toward flood resilience support and “sustainable advocacy” focused on homes damaged by July floods; $5 million for the Lost Middle Income Homeownership Program; And $5 million for manufactured homes.
About two-thirds of the $50 million will go toward rental units, said Maura Collins, executive director of the VHFA.
“That will cover a range of rents and income of the people being served, so some of that will go to support traditional affordable rental housing like people or places that can rent for about $1,100 for a one-bedroom apartment,” she said. “And then in addition to that… we heard from Employers and municipalities have expressed the need to support market-rate rental housing, so this might be a one-bedroom apartment that could rent for $2,500. With the loan dollars that VHFA will be able to provide to developers and builders, we hope that we can expand the housing market and expand more of these rental units.
About 100 of the new units will be for people exiting homelessness, she said. There will also be investments in infrastructure that supports housing.