U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy and Gov. Peter Shumlin today announced a $950,000 award from the Agency of Commerce and Community Development to redevelop Ladd Hall in Waterbury into 27 new homes. The project is made possible by a recent agreement by the state to transfer ownership of the building and include affordable housing in the redevelopment of the State Office Complex. Joining them was Regional Administrator Barbara Fields from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The funding comes from the $21.6 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery funds ACCD received from HUD to help the state recover from Tropical Storm Irene. The money is awarded to the Central Vermont Community Land Trust and Housing Vermont to spearhead the project.
"My administration is as committed as ever to helping communities rebuild," said Gov. Shumlin. "We will continue to work with Waterbury on the redevelopment of the State Office Complex and are pleased to announce that we have entered into an agreement that makes Ladd Hall available for this project. Soon, this historic building on Main Street will come back to life as new affordable housing and help replace homes lost to the flood."
"The federal government needs to be at the heart of Vermont's recovery and resilient growth to ensure we rebuild better than Irene found Vermont," said Leahy. "That statement is nowhere more evident than at the Waterbury State Office Complex. Irene damaged or destroyed thousands of homes, condos, and apartments of all shapes and sizes. But some of the hardest hit homes were those homes Vermonters could afford the most -- and could least afford to rebuild. HUD's Community Development Block Grant program will help rebuild Vermont's affordable housing stock."
The $21.6 million in CDBG disaster recovery funding is the result of a provision Leahy, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Congressman Peter Welch championed in last year's federal budget bill. That bill included a $400 million allocation of CDBG funding for states impacted by disasters in 2011. Leahy also led an effort to include a provision that would give HUD the ability to determine which states received a disaster allocation on both unmet needs and a state's ability to rebuild. Vermont was one of only eight states in the nation to receive a disaster allocation.
While the complex was severely damaged by flooding during Tropical Storm Irene, Ladd Hall lies outside the floodplain and received minimal damage when water entered the building through utility connections. With the strong support of the Town and Village of Waterbury and funding from other sources such as the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the Central Vermont Community Land Trust and Housing Vermont will purchase the property and convert it into 27 apartments for low- and moderate-income households. The project represents a major step forward on the road to recovery for the community and the redevelopment of the complex.
"Responding to a disaster like Tropical Storm Irene takes not only a village, but a town, a state and a country that is committed to our citizens and our community. Today, we are celebrating Ladd Hall a project where Federal, state, town and village all are coming together to provide funding and support," said Eileen Peltier from Central Vermont Community Land Trust. "This affordable housing for families will stand for many years to come as a testament to community and hard work and passion."
"Day to day it will provide critically needed housing for families and over the years it will be a reminder of what can be accomplished when we bring the full force of our commitment to a task," she added.
"Redeveloping Ladd Hall creates much needed affordable housing for families in Washington County and is a very visible signal to the community that Irene recovery will produce a stronger Waterbury," said Housing Vermont Vice President of Development Kathy Beyer. "Today's ceremony also provides evidence of the critical role that federal housing and community development programs play in sustaining vibrant communities."
In addition, the Governor and ACCD Secretary Lawrence Miller announced five other CDBG grants to communities through the state Vermont Community Development Board totaling $1,077,473. Those projects include a community building in Rutland, dental center in Bristol, renovated and new affordable homes in Hardwick and Charlotte and an agri-business planning grant for a greenhouse in Coventry. Secretary Miller noted, "These awards result from the work of many hands. They would not be possible without the tireless efforts of applicants to bring needed resources to their communities or the steady support of Senator Leahy, Senator Sanders and Congressman Welch for the CDBG program."