Twin Pines Executive Director weighs in on Vermont housing crisis

Monte, Lane, Winter: Vermont needs housing – and more

Tue, 07/12/2022 – 11:27am —

by Michael Monte, Stephanie Lane, Andrew Winter The first questions families with young children ask when considering where in Vermont to live are, “Can we find housing we can afford?” and “Does that area have good childcare options?”

Too often, the answers to both questions are not good enough and this is holding us back.

According to state data, the cost of a primary home went up 10.2% between 2020 and 2021.

While many may see this as an aberration, it’s actually just a blip in an overall market trend: over the last 20 years – through boom and bust cycles, the annual average increase has been a little over 6%.

That sustained appreciation, coupled with lackluster housing production, is a major factor in whether families decide to make a future in Vermont even when jobs are seemingly aplenty.

This challenge is front and center. Vermonters of all stripes, including business leaders, politicians and local officials, those fighting poverty, and more, are all calling for more housing and exploring new approaches.

Although there is more work to be done, recent advocacy is starting to pay off in efforts to rebalance our housing markets and communities will soon see some reinforcements when it comes to housing affordability and development.

During the past two years, Governor Scott and the Vermont State Legislature have invested over $250 million to address Vermont’s critical housing need. This spending will go far towards economic stability for Vermonters, whether they’ve been houseless or trying to purchase their first home.

As we develop new housing infrastructure, we must also prioritize other critical supports for young families. Otherwise, we won’t fully see the benefits of our housing affordability investments.

Just like housing, childcare is an economic driver. It’s part of the essential infrastructure that enables Vermonters to stay and engage in our communities, earn a living, and be part of their neighborhoods, schools and civic organizations.

For childcare capacity and affordability, the pattern and challenges are eerily similar to the challenges in our housing market laid out earlier – simply not enough of it and the options that are available are too expensive for families.

So what can we do? Similar to housing, we can invest public dollars in child care infrastructure that meets the need. This means creating more slots for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, capping child care costs for families and making sure our early childhood educators receive fair wages for their professional work.

Taking these steps will enable the thousands of families with young children who are looking to settle down, to afford more in terms of quality of life (including housing), businesses will be able to expand, and our economy will grow.

As a state, we can only afford to make smart, targeted investments which will help our economy. In the housing industry, recent national models(link is external) show that for every 100 homes for sale we build, we’ll create 290 jobs and generate $1.1 million in taxes and fees. This is what’s called a classic “win-win.”

Not so different from housing – investing in childcare is one of the best decisions we can make. Not only would increasing public investments in child care lower costs for families, but it would give our economy the boost it so desperately needs.

Research shows(link is external) that if Vermont were to build a childcare system that meets every child and families’ needs in terms of access and affordability, thousands of parents – mainly mothers – could reenter the workforce, thus filling and creating jobs, and saving families millions of dollars annually; not to mention the early learning and development opportunities it would provide for all of our youngest children.

States across the country are looking at childcare as integral to their economic futures. If Vermont wants to provide its workforce with the most stable support and options, continued development and investment in child care infrastructure will make our state more competitive.

As affordable housing advocates representing different regions throughout the state, we encourage all other leaders in this pivotal industry to join us in endorsing Vermont’s Child Care Campaign(link is external) and in calling on our state’s policy makers to prioritize public investment in our childcare system.

Michael Monte is the Chief Executive Officer of Champlain Housing Trust in Burlington, Stephanie Lane is the Executive Director of Shires Housing in Bennington, and Andrew Winter is the Executive Director of Twin Pines Housing Trust in White River Junction.

 

 

Hartford Housing Plan Gets Critical Approvals


Hartford housing plan gets critical approvals

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/26/2022 10:16:03 PM
Modified: 5/26/2022 10:16:05 PM

WILDER — After hours of public testimony over two nights, Twin Pines Housing Trust cleared two key hurdles in its effort to build an 18-unit apartment complex at 747 Hartford Ave. in Wilder.

First, on Monday, Twin Pines received preliminary approval for a planned development from the Planning Commission on property currently owned by St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. The commission approved the request on a vote of 5-2.

The next night, Twin Pines received conditional use approval from the Zoning Board of Adjustment for the proposed project. That vote was 4-0, with one member of the board absent.

Both public hearings were continued from April and little new ground was covered as the majority of opposition echoed points previously expressed, focusing largely on the safety of the area, a lack of parking and the contention that the development was too big for the location and out of character with the neighborhood.

One thing that was a little different is the number of people opposing the plan who began their statements with support for the mission of Twin Pines but didn’t believe the location was the right spot for an 18-unit apartment complex.

Several people spoke to the safety issue and expressed concern for their children.

The apartment complex, proposed to be located next to the Haven to allow for close proximity of services, will only bring more people with mental health issues and addiction problems, neighbors argued.

Many in opposition said concentrating this population near schools and single-family homes was a dangerous decision.

Jess Bowen spoke passionately about experiences her 13-year-old daughter has faced.

Bowen said her daughter has had crude comments said to her as she walked home from school and once had a man spit and yell at her and her friends.

“She hasn’t walked to school since,” Bowen said. “I am angry, I am frustrated and I am exhausted. I believe we are better as a community when we come together to find solutions. I also believe that if you allow a no-barrier shelter or 18 single-person apartments to be built on Hartford Avenue, someone, potentially a child, is going to get hurt, and as a community we will have to live with that forever.”

Several others shared similar stories or said that the tales they had heard had changed their mind about supporting the project.

Lori Dickerson said it’s not about housing, it’s about helping people dealing with mental illness and addiction.

She referenced the experience of Bowen’s daughter.

“If any of you are parents or were parents, I don’t know how you can turn your back,” Dickerson said. “Her child has lived with this and will live with this memory for the rest of her life.”

That opposition from neighbors led to Commissioner Robin Adair Logan’s decision to oppose the application: “I was very moved by the opinions of the people who actually live in the neighborhood. I’m a mother and grandmother of high school kids, and I really was unhappy for the parents who spoke up.

Logan said she had never seen the public turn out the way it has. In excess of 80 participants logged on for both public hearings.

“I have to believe the public that has come forth in this application,” Logan said. “I have never seen this many letters and discussion and participation, which I think should impress us. I like that the community that is around the neighborhood has come forth. We don’t get that very often. We have to listen to them.”

But supporters suggested thinking about the people who need housing and pointed out that residents at the proposed apartments will be undergo background checks and cannot have convictions for sex crimes or drugs.

Leslie Black is a neighbor and member of St. Paul’s church.

“For some, it might be the first time they’ve ever had a home of their own,” Black said. “For others, it may be their first time having working plumbing or electricity. I say good luck and welcome to the neighborhood.”

Planning Commission members expressed some concerns but were prepared to let the project move forward.

Chairman John Reid echoed several commissioners who said that he didn’t foresee the Twin Pines project contributing to the safety issues in the neighborhood.

“I don’t see how putting up the proposed building and putting 18 people in it and giving them the services they need will decrease the security of the neighbors, and it may increase security,” Reid said. “I’m feeling optimistic that the building will have a beneficial effect.”

At Tuesday’s Zoning Board meeting, Michael Redmond, executive director of the Upper Valley Haven, said he was taking the community’s concerns about safety seriously.

“We need to move toward action,” Redmond said. “How can we make the community safer? I think this project does make the community safer.”

And Andrew Winter, executive director of Twin Pines, also addressed the issue.

“As a parent, I know how hard it is to keep our kids safe in a world that, at times, feels increasingly unsafe,” Winter said.

The two approvals this week are just the first steps for the proposal.

The Hartford Zoning Board will consider two other applications that were continued until 6 p.m. on June 8.

The first application is from The Upper Valley Haven and St. Paul’s Episcpopal Church for a conditional use permit for shared use parking between lots 713 and 749 Hartford Ave., in Wilder, and the Hartford Planning Commission will take up a site development plan approval application when it next meets at 6 p.m. June 13.

The Haven also has applications on both agendas.

Darren Marcy can be reached at dmarcy@vnews.com or 802-291-4992.

Upper Valley Haven Releases Paper on Parkhurst Collaboration

The Parkhurst Supportive Housing Project:
A Review of Program Outcomes after 3 1/2 years

Parkhurst Community Housing, Lebanon, NH

Michael Redmond, Executive Director, Upper Valley Haven
April 2022

Summary

This paper provides an analysis of the outcomes of a permanent supportive housing project in Lebanon, NH that opened in August 2018. The 18-unit apartment building, called Parkhurst Community Housing or simply, Parkhurst, provides rental units to people who have experienced chronic homelessness. A feature of the program is that residents of Parkhurst benefit from Project-Based Rental Assistance, with the tenant’s portion of the rent limited to 30% of their income. Residents are eligible for Housing Choice Voucher (mobile voucher) after a year of successful
tenancy, allowing a resident to move to other eligible properties if they choose.

Three and one-half years after opening the project can be viewed as very successful in meeting the goal of helping people remain housed. A total of 29 tenants have lived in the 18 units. Nine original tenants remain housed at Parkhurst and nine new tenants, all “chronically homeless” prior to moving to Parkhurst now live there. Of those who left, seven are now living in other permanent housing. One tenant has returned to temporary emergency housing and two have unknown status. Only one tenant was asked to leave due to disruptive behavior, though an eviction was avoided through counseling and a move to a housing environment more in line with his needs. Click HERE here to read more.

 

Twin Pines Receives “Housing for Everyone” grant from TD Charitable Foundation

TD Charitable Foundation awards $5.8M to 33 non-profits, two in VT get $325K 

Tue, 03/08/2022 – 4:05pm — 

TD Bank 

The 16th annual Housing for Everyone grant program will help housing organizations deliver critical resident services like eviction prevention assistance, workforce development and childcare 

Vermont Business Magazine Three Vermont non-profit housing organizations – Champlain Housing Trust (CHT), Downstreet Housing & Community Development (Downstreet), and Twin Pines Housing (Twin Pines) – have been awarded a total of $325,000 in Housing for Everyone grants from the TD Charitable Foundation. The organizations are three of 33 organizations selected from more than 357 applicants to receive a Housing for Everyone grant as part of the TD Charitable Foundation’s annual grant program helping to provide affordable housing since 2005. 

Downstreet and Twin Pines will collaborate to use their $175,000 grant to grow Twin Pines’ existing resident services program and pilot a resident services program at Downstreet. Funds will be used to support one new staff position at each organization, and Twin Pines will support Downstreet as they develop their program over the next 18 months. 

Champlain Housing Trust will use their award for similar activities, as the organization has tripled its resident services staffing during the pandemic. CHT has housed over 120 formerly homeless Vermonters in the last year in addition to providing support to hundreds of existing tenants. 

“Without the critical resident services provided by organizations like Downstreet, Twin Pines, and Champlain Housing Trust, many individuals and families would struggle to find – or risk losing – a safe, affordable place to call home. The support from the TD Charitable Foundation’s Housing for Everyone grant program will help these organizations continue to provide services like eviction assistance, housing search assistance, and direct support to help manage day-to-day challenges to even more individuals and families across Vermont,” said Sheryl McQuade, Regional President for Northern New England at TD Bank. 

“The housing crisis in Vermont and New Hampshire is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” says Twin Pines Housing’s Executive Director Andrew Winter. “Our community’s well-being and our quality of life depend on all of us rising to the challenge of addressing this critical situation.” 

“We always say ‘home is more than four walls and a roof,’” said Connie Snow, Interim CEO at Downstreet. “This grant gets to the root of housing insecurity, and will help people stay in their homes long-term.” 

“CHT’s growing resident services staff support our residents every day, and often step up to intervene in more serious life and death situations,” said Michael Monte, CEO of the Champlain Housing Trust. “On behalf of all of us, thank you to TD Charitable Foundation for recognizing this work and supporting it.” 

 

Upper Valley Haven plan would create low-income housing, shelter space in White River Junction

A rendering shows a proposed 18-unit Twin Pines Housing apartment building, center, and a new structure for the Haven’s overnight shelter and administrative offices, right, on property subdivided from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, left, on Hartford Avenue in White River Junction, Vt. The plans for the buildings’ facades have not been finalized. (Courtesy Studio Nexus) Courtesy Studio Nexus

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 12/3/2021 10:03:37 PM
Modified: 12/3/2021 10:03:43 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Twin Pines Housing and the Upper Valley Haven are proposing to build affordable housing and more shelter beds on church property next to the existing Haven site on Route 5.

The proposal could add 18 one-bedroom apartments for low-income tenants and 20 emergency shelter beds in a bid to address the Upper Valley’s housing crisis and concerns about safe lodging for the homeless.

The two nonprofits this week said they have an option to purchase two parcels of a property owned by St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Route 5, aka Hartford Avenue, in White River Junction where they want to extend housing, shelter and social support services to economically distressed families and individuals.

If successful obtaining the necessary financing and zoning approvals — St. Paul’s will first seek to divide its nearly 2-acre property into three parcels — the parties hope to begin construction in 2023, organizers said this week.

“We are a small, aging congregation and we have to do something to ensure our viability and there is this huge housing crisis in Hartford that is only getting worse,” said Leslie Black, chair of the planning committee at St. Paul’s. “We’ve always been interested in the issue, and this is a way to use our property to support that need,” she said, adding that proceeds from the parcel sales will help to pay for the church’s long-overdue upgrade in energy efficiency.

Under the proposed plan, which will be presented informally to the Hartford Planning Commission on Monday night, Twin Pines Housing would purchase a parcel on the east side of the church to build a three-floor structure containing 18 low-income, one-bedroom rental units, and the Haven would purchase a parcel at the south end of the church property adjacent to its facility which would contain 20 shelter beds and program space and staff offices.

St. Paul’s, which helped establish the Haven 40 years ago, would retain the land around its sanctuary and parish hall.

By co-locating permanent low-income rental housing, acute shelter capacity and a menu of wrap-around support services, the church and nonprofits would effectively create a micro campus and destination for struggling families and individuals who are unable to afford a roof over their head or are homeless in the Upper Valley, according to organization officials.

The added 8,000 square feet provided by its new dual-purpose building could also allow the Haven to host space for other Upper Valley social service organizations such as domestic abuse counselor WISE, free medical and dental care provider Good Neighbor Health Clinics and substance abuse treatment center Headrest to meet with their clients, said Michael Redmond, the Haven’s executive director.

“We want this to be a place for resources, a center where we can invite other organizations who are working with the same folks that we are,” Redmond said.

The current Haven facility, in addition to operating a food shelf, provides temporary shelter facilities to eight families in the Byrne House Family Shelter, and, in a separate building known as Hixon House Adult Shelter, temporary residences for up to 20 individuals in 10 double-occupancy rooms.

Before the pandemic, the Haven also ran a “low-barrier” shelter during the winter in which it would set out 15 cots in the dining area for men and women who needed emergency overnight shelter. But COVID-19 concerns ended that program in March 2020 and the proposed new building would revive the shelter with room for 20 people on the second floor, Redmond explained.

“Now we want to build something that is better, better for safety, a little more space for privacy, partitions around the cots, electrical sockets to charge phones, changing rooms, lockers, more showers, a laundry,” Redmond elaborated.

The first floor would be dedicated to meeting rooms, educational and program spaces, staff and caseworker offices. and computer workstations that shelter residents could use to find permanent housing and work.

Redmond estimated the new building would cost about $3 million “as a rule of thumb,” which the Haven would finance through public and private grants and fundraising.

The proposed Twin Pines building would be only a few feet away, which would make it easy for a resident to tap resources and programs provided at the Haven, said Beth Long, CFO of the housing nonprofit.

Long said the proposal to add an affordable housing building at the St. Paul’s location for easy access to the Haven’s resources is modeled after Twin Pines Housing’s Parkhurst Community Housing low-income apartment building — also 18 units — in downtown Lebanon. The Haven has a caseworker assigned to residents of that building, who help with everything from vouchers, transportation, treatment and medical appointments if necessary.

“It’s been very successful here and we’re now looking to provide the same opportunity to Vermont residents,” Long said.

Long, who didn’t have a precise estimate for how much the 18-unit building would cost but nonetheless expected it would be “several millions,” said Twin Pines would be applying for state grants funded by federal money in addition to the award of tax credits that the nonprofit has tapped on prior projects.

On Monday, the parties will go before the Hartford Planning Commission to preview the plan with a formal application to be made early in the new year. The Monday meeting is an informal session for both the applicant and the city to ask each other questions to sketch out the scope of the project and review the permitting process ahead, said Lori Hirshfield, director of planning and development for Hartford.

The Haven’s Redmond said the Planning Commission several years ago approved the Haven’s status as a “planned development,” which it sought when the Route 5 site brought multiple functions — shelter, food pantry, programs — to one location.

A planned development means the applicant does not have to seek a variance as long as the purpose comports with the underlying zoning, requiring only an amendment to the approved plan.

The biggest obstacle may be resistance from abutters of St. Paul’s property not relishing the prospect of living adjacent to an expanded shelter for homeless people, an issue that has dogged other attempts to solve homelessness in Hartford.

St. Paul’s Black said members of the church have recently been knocking on neighbors’ doors to inform them of the plan and to gauge their reaction.

“We get varied responses. We get ‘it’s wonderful you are doing this because housing is such a problem’ and then there are people who are not so enthusiastic,” Black said.

Contact John Lippman at jlippman@vnews.com.

Read more

Ribbon cutting at WWCH II

Twin Pines Housing and Evernorth Complete Phase II of Wentworth Community Housing

On August 11, 2021, Twin Pines Housing and its development partner Evernorth celebrated the completion of the construction of 17 new apartments to the Wentworth Way development and four new units located a few miles away in Wilder, VT.

The Wilder site is comprised of four two-bedroom apartments, each with washer/dryer hookups and a private porch or patio. The site was initially an infill development site requiring cleanup of contaminated soils.

The Wentworth Way site adds eight one-bedroom flats, eight two-bedroom townhouses and one three-bedroom townhouse to the 30 apartments built in the first phase. The new building includes a community space, onsite laundry, private entrances with patios or porches and use of the common outdoor amenities – community gardens, outdoor seating and play spaces.

Both of the buildings in this second phase were designed and constructed to high performance energy standards, use no fossil fuels, and employ a new mechanical system which brings individualized heating, cooling and ventilation to each unit. All utilities will be included in the rent, and the Development’s electrical costs will be offset by the new PV solar panels. The project was designed by gbA Architecture and constructed by Naylor and Breen builders.

Safford Commons Home Ownership Units Construction Site

Twin Pines building affordable housing for sale in Woodstock—Valley News

WOODSTOCK — Twin Pines Housing is adding up to 8 units of housing for sale at its Safford Commons complex, part of its ongoing effort to make home ownership more affordable.

Housing applications open in September for the new housing, where four of the units are under construction now at the complex off Route 4 in Woodstock.

The two single-story, two-bedroom condominiums will cost $185,000, and the two, two-story, three-bedroom condominiums will cost $222,000, well below market rates for such housing. A second phase of the project, which would develop four more units for ownership, will probably begin in the next two years, said Andrew Winter, the executive director of Twin Pines Housing.

Jasmine Taudvin is a Staff Writer for the Valley News. Read the full article on the Valley News Website.

Photo of TPH Staff in front of the community building

Twin Pines Housing Celebrates Renovation of Village at Crafts Hill

On June 17, 2021, Twin Pines Housing celebrated the completion of renovations at the Village at Crafts Hill with a ribbon-cutting ceremony there followed by Twin Pines’ annual meeting. Lebanon Mayor Tim McNamara and New Hampshire Executive Councilor Joe Kenney were among the dignitaries who spoke at the event.

Beautiful weather lifted everyone’s spirits at the event which took place in a tent in front of the newly built Community Center at Crafts Hill. The celebration included a brief program, tours of the apartments, and a reception.

Twin Pines Housing recently completed a year-long renovation of its 100-unit Village at Crafts Hill in West Lebanon, NH. Originally constructed in the 1970’s, the complex needed significant upgrades throughout. The complex provides much-needed affordable housing for Lebanon-area families. During the 2021 Annual Meeting portion of the event, new Board members were elected, a financial report was given, and Twin Pines Housing Executive Director reported on the highlights and challenges of the past year during a pandemic.

Twin Pines opens new apartments —Valley News

HANOVER — Nick Heyl gives his new digs, a studio apartment on the third floor of the new Summer Park Residences situated between Park, Summer and Lebanon streets, “a rave review.”

“I’m close to everything and it’s just absolutely quiet here,” Heyl said in a phone interview Friday.

Heyl, a 73-year-old retired attorney and singer/songwriter, spoke little more than a week after moving into the $5.8 million building, which sits near the Hanover location of the Co-op Food Stores, Hanover High School and the Richard W. Black Community Center.

The single building containing 24 units of affordable housing in one of the Upper Valley’s most expensive real estate markets replaces three eight-unit, two-story buildings built in the 1970s. The new energy-efficient building’s features, including an elevator, wider doorways, grab bars, roll-in showers and open floor plans, make it more accessible for tenants with disabilities.

Nora Doyle-Burr is a staff writer for the Valley News. Read the full article on the Valley News Website

Rear corner of the new Summer Park Building

Completion of Summer Park Phase 1

We invite you to join Twin Pines Housing’s Executive Director Andrew B. Winter, Hanover Town Manager Julia Griffin, and project funders as we celebrate the completion of the new Summer Park Residences.

WHENFriday, October 30, 10:30 a.m.

HOW:    Register in advance for this Zoom meeting here.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Or watch us live on Facebook!

WHAT  Remarks, a virtual tour, a ribbon cutting ceremony, and a ground breaking ceremony for phase 2. Enjoy your own refreshments!