The Vermont Community Loan Fund and longtime partner the Champlain Housing Trust collaborated on two affordable housing projects in the fourth quarter of 2015, helping create and preserve 186 Vermont homes to remain affordable in perpetuity.
Since 1988, the two nonprofits have collaborated on projects that have resulted in over 420 affordable homes throughout Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties.
Winchester Place in Colchester, operated by the Champlain Housing Trust and Housing Vermont, stands as one of Chittenden County’s largest and most critical affordable housing properties, providing 166 rental units for lower-income Vermonters. Until 2015, Winchester placed occupied land leased from St. Michael’s College; at the expiration of the lease, the structure was slated to become property of the college, leaving the future of a large stock of affordable homes uncertain.
With funding from the Vermont Community Loan Fund, the Champlain Housing Trust was able to purchase the land, leading to the preservation of the 166 homes, 18 of which were converted into affordable condominiums for ownership.
“St. Michael’s College was great. They were quick to respond, and sold to us at a very fair rate,” said Champlain Housing Trust CEO Brenda Torpy. “People think that the transition of rentals to condos means the elimination of affordable housing. In fact, this deal allowed 18 lower-income families to enter into home ownership at a cost that was comparable to their previous rentals,” she said.
CHT used a second VCLF loan to refinance their 88 King Street property in Burlington, which includes 20 affordable rental homes as well as CHT office space. “VCLF brings people who have the capacity and the desire to do good work together with people who can do it. And the multiplier effect of VCLF’s work is tremendous. I can’t say enough good things about the Loan Fund,” Torpy said.
“Providing safe and affordable housing is at the center of our mission to create opportunities and financial stability for all Vermonters,” responded VCLF Executive Director Will Belongia. “Our collaborations with the Champlain Housing Trust have resulted in so many Vermont families getting a healthy financial footing, and building a path towards self-sufficiency,” he added.
Total VCLF 4th Quarter 2015 lending saw $3,062,292 loaned to Vermont's small businesses including food, farms & forestry enterprises; early education & child care programs; additional affordable housing projects; and community facilities.
Additional projects funded include:
Bob’s Camera and Video, Barre (2 loans)
Bob’s Camera and Video is an established camera and printing shop located in downtown Barre. When the owner decided to sell, longtime employee Kaitlyn Messler approached the Barre Revolving Loan Program and VCLF, which administers that program, to help finance the purchase of the business. The loans will help fund business operations, and will preserve two full-time and two part-time jobs. bobscamerashop.com
Fog Lake Farms, Brookfield
An organic, grass milk dairy and beef & pork producer, Fog Lake Farms approached VCLF to finance the purchase of a 22-acre property, including pasture land and a new hay barn they’ll use for much-needed hay storage. The combination of the additional acreage and the barn will allow extended and rotational grazing of their 76 cows, resulting in lower feed costs. The loan will result in the preservation of three full-time and one part-time jobs. foglakefarms.com
High Mowing Organic Seeds, Wolcott
A family-owned mail and web order seed company, High Mowing is a leader in organic seed production. Customers include commercial growers, retail stores, home gardeners and other retail seed companies. They’ll use a VCLF line of credit to buy seed and support operating expenses in this highly seasonal business. The loan helps preserve 42 full-time and ten part-time jobs. highmowingseeds.com
Jasper Hill Creamery/The Cellars at Jasper Hill, Greensboro (2 loans)
Jasper Hill makes artisanal cheeses sold in some of the most celebrated restaurants and gourmet shops in the country. They also age and distribute other cheesemakers’ products. They’re using VCLF funding to purchase specialized equipment. The loan preserves 33 jobs and is expected to create eight new ones. jasperhillfarm.com
North Avenue Co-op, Burlington
Farrington’s mobile home park constituted 120 affordable homes in Burlington’s New North End. When the park was put up for sale, residents were eager to purchase it as a cooperative, but needed financing to approach the asking price. VCLF stepped in with the necessary financing; today, the newly-minted North Avenue Co-op is resident-owned and thriving.
North Branch Vineyards, Montpelier
North Branch Vineyards has grown steadily since first becoming a VCLF borrower in 2011. Having purchased some of their grapes from other, they now plan to grow more of their own, for which they have just leased an additional 13 acres with an option to purchase. They’ll use VCLF financing to plant a vineyard, purchase bottling materials, finance the 2015 grape harvest and purchase a vineyard sprayer. The loan preserves one full-time job. northbranchvineyards.com
Vermont Carrot Cake, Barre
Julie Macris operates Vermont Carrot Cake from her home, supplying carrot cakes and cupcakes to a growing number of markets and restaurants. With increasing demand and prospects for significant continued growth, she approached VCLF about funding an expansion. She’ll use VCLF financing for expansion costs including new equipment. The loan preserves one job and is expected to create another one.
Vermont Wood Pellet Co., North Clarendon
This manufacturer of highly-efficient wood pellets will use VCLF funding to purchase an automatic bagging machine for their mill, making the production line more efficient and saving significantly on materials. This business supports sustainable use of Vermont forests, with all wood derived from within a 30-mile radius. The loan preserves 23 full-time and two part-time jobs. vermontwoodpellet.com