Workforce housing needs are focus of BF forum

BELLOWS FALLS — In June, Vermont policymakers approved a $35 million bond to invest in workforce and affordable housing.

A regional public meeting is being held in Bellows Falls to identify high priority and needed projects in the region. The meeting will take place at the Rockingham Free Public Library, 65 Westminster St., on Monday, Sept. 18, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

The $35 million in bonding will be used for the development and improvement of ownership and rental housing for very low to middle-income households. Awards will be based on community needs, applications received, and the availability of resources for leverage.

Priority will be given to projects in areas designated for growth and those with a high degree of readiness to proceed. Projects must serve households at or below 120% of area median income.

The revenue bond will be issued by Vermont Housing Finance Agency and administered by the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board. Applications for funding will be considered and awarded during the next three years. Applications will be accepted starting this fall, and all grant funds will be distributed by July 2020.

The program's target is to create and improve 550-650 units of housing. The bond funds will be matched by local public or private funds, resulting in up to $100 million in additional resources for housing development, VHCB said in a release.

Gus Seelig, executive director of VHCB, has estimated that the first 100 homes should be under construction by the end of the calendar year.

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