News Release — Windham and Windsor Housing Trust
June 22, 2018
Sheila A. Reed
Brattleboro, Vt. – Today, Representatives from Senator Sanders, Senator Leahy, and Congressman Welch’s office joined residents and staff from Windham & Windsor Housing Trust (WWHT) to celebrate the opening of WWHT’s 22 permanent supportive housing apartments known as Great River Terrace. The event included a tour of the efficiency apartments as well as the community building, which will host a bevy of services for residents and community members throughout the year.
Great River Terrace is located on Putney Road at the site of the former Lamplighter Inn and was designed by Brattleboro architects, Stevens & Associates and built by GPI Construction, also located in Brattleboro. WWHT is working with Groundworks Collaborative and Health Care and Rehabilitation Services (HCRS) to provide support and services to the residents to help them stabilize their lives. Residency will be given to the most vulnerable in the community via a locally coordinated entry system of care, which is meant to streamline the process to find housing for families and individuals experiencing homelessness. Groundworks will provide support services that will focus on some of the day to day needs of each resident through the work of a full-time on site case manager. HCRS will provide mental health services through a part-time on site case manager and WWHT will provide a part-time housing support coordinator to organize group resident activities and programs.
“At the same time the buildings have been constructed, we’ve been constructing a solid approach to welcoming residents and providing them with coordinated support through the deep level of collaboration that has developed between WWHT, GroundWorks and HCRS,” said Elizabeth Bridgewater, WWHT’s Executive Director. “It’s inspiring to be a part of a project that will have so much impact in how people choose to live their lives and, because of the breadth of the project, none of this would be possible without the mix of private, state and federal funding.”
Funding totaling over $4 million from numerous sources was raised to cover the total development costs. A large portion of the funding came from Passumpsic Bank, whose investments totaled more than $2 million. “Passumpsic Bank was drawn to the Great River Terrace project as we were impressed by Windham & Windsor Housing Trust’s commitment to educating tenants on sustainable principles of home ownership in order to help move their communities forward,” said bank President Jim Kisch. “The project goes farther than housing the homeless in the community by addressing the crisis at its core and WWHT and Passumpsic Bank’s goals intersected at this amazing project.
VTDigger is underwritten by:
The Vermont Housing & Conservation Board committed $450,000 in proceeds from the Housing Revenue Bond to the development, as well as $458,000 in federal HOME Program funds, and $642,460 in federal National Housing Trust funds.
Executive Director Gus Seelig said, “We thank Senator Sanders for his leadership in creating the National Housing Trust Fund. Based largely on the success of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Trust Fund, it provides Vermont with $3 million each year to fund affordable housing for extremely low-income individuals and families. Vermont is among the first states in the country to commit these funds—and Brattleboro, Poultney, and Putney are the first towns in Vermont to open new and rehabilitated housing developments using this funding source. We thank Governor Scott, who proposed the Housing Revenue Bond, and we appreciate the great local partnership between Windham & Windsor Housing Trust, Groundworks Collaborative, and HCRS in developing Great River Terrace. ”
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) first introduced legislation to create the National Housing Trust Fund in 2001 when he was in the US House of Representatives. After a 15-year effort, in 2016, the NHTF became the first new federal affordable housing program in several decades.
“At a time when far too many Vermonters either face or are at risk of homelessness, we desperately need to provide more supportive housing options for the most vulnerable people in our state,” the Senator said via email. “I applaud Windham & Windsor Housing Trust for developing the Great River Terrace project that will allow Vermonters struggling with complex challenges to live with stability and dignity.”
The National Housing Trust Fund was created to focus housing resources for extremely low-income Americans, those whose income is below 30% of median. Half the apartments at Great River Terrace are designed to meet the needs of this population with both affordable rents and coordinated support services.
Other sources of funds included the Vermont Community Development Program, Efficiency VT, WRCP Solar Fund, and NeighborWorks America. “We’re so proud of and grateful to Windham & Windsor Housing Trust and Groundworks Collaborative for their bold approach to providing Vermonters in need with the safe and affordable housing they deserve, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said. “I’ve advocated for NeighborWorks funding through the appropriations process because I know, at the end of the day, NeighborWorks supports projects like this where housing, coupled with wrap-around services, lifts people in crisis out of poverty, and transforms communities.”