Central Vermont Community Land Trust (CVCLT) director Eileen Peltier was present at the April 27 Warren Select Board meeting for the final close-out hearing on the Wheeler Brook affordable housing project on the Sugarbush Access Road.
The project was developed by CVCLT and Housing Vermont. It features three buildings surrounding a common green space; the project received final plan approval from the Warren DRB in June 2007.
Building one has a total of six units, building two has five units, and
building three has seven units. In total there is one three-bedroom
unit, nine two-bedroom units, and eight one-bedroom units. The
two-bedroom units are townhouse in style, while the one-bedroom units
are all flats. The complex also has one on-site coin-operated laundry
Warren's first affordable housing complex is situated on a nine-acre parcel formerly occupied by the Blue Tooth. Peltier told town officials that 4 out of the total 18 units are currently vacant.
She told select board members that the process for finding applicants who meet the various income and legal requirements for occupancy "has gone slower than we would have liked."
Peltier said that the state of the economy as well as the nature of the affordable housing project accounts for the difficulty of finding appropriate tenants who meet the requirements.
Select board chair Andy Cunningham said he heard concerns from residents interested in renting the units who were denied based upon income requirements and was "surprised by that."
Peltier said that applicants interested in Wheeler Brook must meet not only the income requirements but are also subject to a credit report and a criminal background check.
The income requirements are based on a federal formula that takes into account the median income of the county, family size and other considerations.
Peltier said that applicants must be on the "low income side"; the tenant rent charged equals 30 percent of the household's adjusted annual income and cannot exceed 40 percent to be eligible.
A combination of federal tax credits, low-interest loans and other funding sources allow the organizations to keep the development costs low and rent the units at less than market rates. Wheeler Brook will not be subsidized.
Wheeler Brook "has a high level of energy efficiency," according to CVCLT real estate project coordinator Allison Friedkin. The units have Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) to facilitate good air quality and circulation and are very well insulated, according to Friedkin.
Peltier told select board members that CVCLT "was able to do a lot of things in Warren that we otherwise wouldn't be able to do" regarding energy efficiency and alternative energy source installations including solar panels.
"We're happy to have been able to work with the town of Warren on the project," she continued.
Select board members asked Peltier if their issues with the units' non-draining fire hydrant had town officials and the fire department concerned about freezing and ongoing maintenance.
Peltier told town officials that CVCLT is responsible for the hydrant and assured that they would be tested and maintained properly; in addition, CVCLT will provide an annual report to the Warren Fire Department.
Cunningham told Peltier that Wheeler Brook is a "great project; it looks good despite normal hiccups and it worked out well."
Select board members unanimously approved the final close-out of the project.
For more information about Wheeler Brook or to inquire about available units, contact Chris Wood at CVCLT, 802-476-4493, or visit www.cvclt.org.