Affordable Housing – A Critical First Step

A small house shining in the night. Image by Donny Jiang on Unsplash.comAffordable Housing has gotten to be a buzzword these days. Why? Because it’s become a national crisis. We are experiencing it most particularly in Vermont. The inventory of available housing in Central Vermont is extremely limited. The purchase cost is out of reach for even middle class families. Rentals too are scarce and costly. Homelessness in Vermont is at an all time high. There is little new home construction; it costs more to build homes than they can sell for. It has become critical to find new ways forward.

The mission of CVRAN is to help the refugees and asylum seekers who have come to us for assistance by helping them to settle, work, and thrive in our community. These new Vermonters have fled their countries because of persecution, terrorism, and death threats. They come here looking for safety and freedom and a place where they can provide a better life for their children. We cannot take them in if we cannot find them a place to live. So what is CVRAN doing about it?  One has to be creative.

We are looking into all of the options below and while we’re at it we also have some very exciting news to share with you.

Hosting – Some of our community members welcome newly arrived asylum seekers/refugees into their homes, usually on a short term basis. This has worked well for both the hosts and the asylum seekers in the past. Sometimes people have extra bedrooms and even separate apartments they can offer. CVRAN will reimburse you for housing related costs incurred. Would you like to welcome an individual or family of asylum seekers/refugees into your home, at least on a temporary basis? Read more about hosting a new arrival here.

HomeShareVermont – Home sharing is a simple idea where two or more people share a home for mutual benefit. A person offers a private bedroom and shared common space in exchange for rent, help around the home,  or a combination of the two. For more information, and to sign up, contact HomeShareVermont. Once you have signed up with HomeShareVermont, contact CVRAN if you would like to discuss sharing your home with a refugee or asylum seeker.

Rentals – If hosting or HomeShare are not available, rentals are usually the next option. CVRAN will subsidize rents for newly arrived individuals and families until they can start earning income. Do you have an available rental property you could make available for a refugee or asylum seeker?

Purchases – For individuals and families who are working in the community, whose children are attending the local schools, and who plan to settle here for the longer term, we do our best to help them find longer term affordable housing situations. So far we have been able to do this by partnering with angel investors, Downstreet Housing and Community Development, and the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB).  We have also received support from the Vermont Community Foundation (VCF) and the Montpelier Community Fund, as well as many of the local churches.

And now, here’s our exciting news – We have recently launched a new Affordable Housing Campaign to purchase a duplex condo in Montpelier in conjunction with Downstreet to house a young Afghan family of nine. The fundraising goal is $140,000. A generous donor has offered to MATCH UP TO THE FIRST $70,000 RECEIVED. You can double your donation by taking advantage of this amazing offer. Click here to go to the Affordable Housing Campaign donation page. 

State Housing Programs

The State of Vermont has initiated several new programs to address the housing problem. Vermont Housing Improvement Program (VHIP) offers grants up to $50,000 per unit for repairs needed to bring vacant rental units up to Vermont Rental Housing Health Code guidelines, add new units to an existing building, or create an accessory dwelling unit on an owner-occupied property. An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is a smaller, independent dwelling unit that is located on the same lot as an existing single-family home.  Would you consider taking advantage of this program and renting a room or a small apartment to a refugee or an asylum seeker at an affordable rate? We have a lot of large older homes in the area that could benefit from this program and in the process put more affordable housing on the market.

A cardboard Christmas village. Image by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash.comOur state has statistically one of the oldest populations in the country. It also has a very limited workforce. It’s a given that we need more immigrants to allow our state to thrive economically, not to mention the cultural benefits that they bring. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

If you want more information or wish to discuss any of these housing solutions, you can contact us at cvran910@gmail.com

Updated: December 10, 2023