The Mad River Valley Housing Coalition will ask the select boards of its member towns -- Warren, Waitsfield and Fayston -- for a portion of their federal ARPA funds in the coming weeks.
Housing coalition executive director Michelle Leibowitz said the request will be made to the Waitsfield Select Board on March 28. The coalition will come before the Fayston Select Board on April 4 and the date for the Warren Select Board is still being determined.
The housing coalition is asking member towns for $150,000 over two years from the collective $1,403,159 the towns received from ARPA. The request is for $54,101 from Waitsfield, $53,398 from Warren and $42,501 from Fayston. It amounts to 10.7% of each town’s ARPA funds. The money will be used to fund the position of the executive director for two years. That position is currently funded by donations and with money from the Mad River Valley Community Fund.
The housing coalition is seeking the funds in 2022.
In a letter requesting funds from the towns, the coalition cites the fact that there has been a 51% rise in the average price of a single-family home in The Valley from 2019-2021.
“Housing has consistently been identified by businesses, renters and homeowners as a growing challenge nationally, and the number one challenge to sustainability in the Mad River Valley. None of our towns currently has staff solely dedicated to the housing crisis. Using ARPA funds, each Valley town will gain the services of an experienced housing professional with the sole purpose of advocating for the creation of affordable housing. This will be accomplished by assisting select boards, planning commissions and zoning administrators in the regulatory arena; nonprofit real estate developers in planning, grant writing, financing; and county, state and federal agencies to develop solutions and projects that work for the Mad River Valley,” the coalition board wrote in its letter.
Last fall the housing coalition pitched a similar idea to the member towns of the Mad River Valley Planning District. In the interim, Leibowitz was hired and the housing coalition received feedback from the three towns on the proposal. Leibowitz said the towns wanted an added degree of accountability from the housing coalition in terms of how ARPA funds are used.
She said that while the housing coaltion currently has board members from all three towns, the coalition’s bylaws could easily be amended to allow for each select board to appoint a board member.
In the letter requesting funding from the towns, the housing coalition board points out that it will manage the necessary ARPA reporting requirements for the funds and report back regularly to the towns.