In the neighborhood targeted for renewal, Gov. Peter Shumlin today announced a $1.25 million Vermont Community Development Program award to the City of Rutland. In partnership with the Rutland Redevelopment Authority, NeighborWorks of Western Vermont will use the funds to improve blighted properties and create homeownership opportunities.
The funding is one element of a broader revitalization effort that also includes infrastructure improvements, a new vacant building ordinance, municipal tax stabilization, public safety measures, community building and gardens.
"Northwest Rutland has a proud history and many assets," said Gov. Shumlin. "Under the leadership of Mayor Louras, this grant and the private investment it triggers will build on its strengths and help it reclaim its place as a neighborhood of choice. Soon, its restored buildings, renewed sense of community, refreshed streets and proximity to downtown and recreational areas will makes the homes in the Northwest Neighborhood among the most desirable in the City and beyond."
The funding will be used to assess vacant and abandoned properties in the targeted area to determine if they can be saved. NeighborWorks will purchase and repair up to seven buildings and provide downpayment assistance and housing counseling services to increase single family homeownership in the area. If, after careful analysis, it is determined a building can't be rehabilitated, grant funds will be used to demolish up to four buildings and repurpose the properties in consultation with the neighborhood.
"This grant will allow the City to further capitalize on the great attributes of a currently undervalued neighborhood, providing for home ownership opportunities and furthering both public and private investment," said Mayor Christopher Louras. "We are proud that the VCDP recognizes that the citizens of Rutland, and specifically those within the northwest neighborhood community, have embraced and are committed to a grassroots-driven comprehensive strategy to create the best quality of life experience in Vermont."
Mary Cohen of NeighborWorks added, "We're thrilled to have this chance to work in such a promising neighborhood with so many energized leaders from the neighborhood and around the City. We have a lot of programs that can help with all sorts of ambitions that people have for this neighborhood from repairs and efficiency measures in the beautiful older homes to financial assistance to encourage new homeowners. It's rare that a NeighborWorks organization gets to work with so many inspired partners all pulling in the same direction but it's happening here and we are thrilled to have a part in this exciting project."
The funding comes from the approximately $6.5 million Vermont receives annually in Community Development Block Grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and is used principally to benefit persons of low and moderate income. The program has the strong support of Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressman Peter Welch who fight for its funding year after year in Congress. The state awards the competitive grants based on recommendations of the Vermont Community Development Board and approval of Secretary of Commerce and Community Development Patricia Moulton.
"This initiative is based on years of careful planning and hard work by the City and its partners," said Jennifer Hollar, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Housing and Community Development. "DHCD's mission is to build strong communities and improve the quality of life of Vermonters. That is exactly what this project proposes to do and we are delighted to be supporting it and the City with this grant."