U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) Wednesday announced more than $1.4 million in grants to revitalize communities and support access to affordable housing across Vermont. These funds mark the first round of FY17 federal grants awarded by NeighborWorks America, now being released after the passage of a federal appropriations bill on May 4, 2017. NeighborWorks is a national nonprofit organization that supports 245 local community development organizations throughout the United States.
In a joint statement, Leahy, Sanders and Welch said: "Vermont, like the rest of the country, faces an extreme shortage of affordable housing. These investments will help Vermont's NeighborWorks affiliates invest where our communities need it most, in homes for seniors, working parents, and first time homebuyers looking to realize the American Dream. We have traveled throughout the state and heard for years the significant impact that our NeighborWorks partners have on families. These funds ensure that NeighborWorks has the tools it needs to continue helping hardworking Vermonters, and we pledge to work to protect these funds for the next fiscal year."
Eileen Peltier, Executive Director of Downstreet Housing & Community Development in Barre added, "The increased support from NWA is deeply appreciated. With these funds we will be able to continue the work of helping families find a place to call home and supporting communities to become more resilient. When so much support to vulnerable families is at risk, we are committed to using these funds wisely and in support of homes for all."
As Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Leahy ensured that the bipartisan appropriations bill to fund the government through the rest of fiscal year 2017 included $140 million for NeighborWorks partners across the country. The Trump administration's fiscal year 2018 budget proposes to eliminate funding for NeighborWorks America.
Funding from NeighborWorks has helped thousands of Vermonters to access homeownership and move out of poverty through financial counseling, home loan assistance, affordable repairs and weatherization, and emergency housing for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Several recipient organizations, including RuralEdge, located in the Northeast Kingdom, have successfully created revolving loan funds, designed to assist low-income homeowners in making necessary health, safety, and accessibility repairs that will improve their quality of living by providing them with a low-interest loan.
NeighborWorks America awarded five grants to Vermont's affiliates, totaling $1,489,334.
Champlain Housing Trust--$495,333
Downstreet Housing and Community Development--$237,000
NeighborWorks of Western Vermont--$281,667
Windham & Windsor Housing Trust--$295,667
This is the first of two rounds of funding. The second round will be announced later this year and will provide competitive grants to organizations to collaborate on localized, strategic investments.