Local and state officials joined housing advocates to celebrate the opening of a new affording housing complex in Burlington, Vermont on Monday.
The 76-unit Laurentide apartment building on North Avenue is one of the largest affordable housing developments built in Vermont in years. It is part of a larger mixed-income development called Cambrian Rise that is being constructed adjacent to Lake Champlain. Housing advocates and officials cut a ribbon to celebrate the opening of the complex.
Champlain Housing Trust CEO Brenda Torpy calls the project a model of green development and inclusion. “This is our work to make sure that our communities are inclusive and open to everybody. And we all know that right now this is hard because the rent is too damn high. For every person who gets a home through Champlain Housing eight people are waiting on a waiting list. As happy as we are to celebrate this today and this is a huge milestone towards our goals we need to build a lot more housing that our neighbors in this city can afford. People who might be a veteran, a small business owner, a single mom, somebody working in the public schools or in a local home improvement store. These are all stories of people in this building.”
Burlington has inclusionary zoning ordinances that require 20 percent of new housing downtown and 25 percent along the waterfront must be affordable. Vermont Lieutenant Governor Progressive David Zuckerman noted that affordability is often discussed at the Statehouse. He is impressed at this project’s focus on inclusivity. “I’m very excited that it’s mixed all together. It’s a part of having a community where everybody is living together and not isolated in different pockets. And that to me is one of the most important aspects of this development.”
The Vermont Housing Finance Agency allocates tax credits that are bought by investors. Executive Director Maura Collins says that created funding that helped to keep the cost of the building low. “Knowing that we have limited resources we try to find developments like this that can serve multiple public policy goals. Where we can protect land near the lake. Where we can protect the long-term affordability, transit oriented, walkable, bikeable. These are all important goals that we look to achieve when we allocate these limited resources.”
Income-restricted rent for a two-bedroom apartment averages $1,000 and includes heat and hot water, which is more than $500 lower than Burlington’s fair market rental rates. Collins noted that 12 units will house families that are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
People’s United Bank is one of the largest investors in the Cambrian Rise development. Vermont President Michael Seaver started his career as a teller and says his family has lived in a lot of different types of housing. “Housing really is the basis for all good things that come to peoples’ lives. We can’t provide adequate health care to people who are not housed. Kids don’t have good educational outcomes when they’re not safely housed. So it’s not just about the security of you know warmth for our physical being but also for reaching our greatest potential.”
On Thursday, officials will hold a groundbreaking for the Juniper House, a 70 unit building that includes 60 affordable apartments for seniors. The new senior housing is also part of the Cambrian Rise development that will total 800 new mixed income homes.