About ACCT: Who We Are & What We Do
Since 1990, ACCT has been creating and conserving affordable housing in Addison County to ensure that all of our neighbors--low and middle income families, seniors, and individuals--have a safe, affordable place to call home. Over the past 25 years, ACCT has become the lead developer, manager, and steward of affordable housing assets in Addison County, an area with continued, pressing need.
ACCT has received accolades for its energy efficient design and use of "smart growth" principles. Several of our developments, including Middlebury South Village Apartments and Stone Hill Apartments in Middlebury, have won Smart Growth Awards and achieved a 5+ star rating from Efficiency Vermont.
The Need for Affordable Housing
Over 4,000 Addison County residents--or about one in ten--live in poverty. For a family of four, this means earning about $24,000 per year or less and corresponds to about 30 percent of area median income for similar families. A family at that income level can afford to pay $600 per month in rent without exceeding 30 percent of their income, the level generally considered "affordable."
ACCT provides a critical source of affordable housing management and new development to alleviate the county's extremely low vacancy rate. Nearly two-thirds of our apartment residents earn below 30 percent of area median income, or around the poverty level. The overwhelming remainder earn between 30 and 80 percent of median. Many of our units come with monthly rental assistance to ensure that residents pay no more than 30 percent of their incomes toward rent.
ACCT's Unique Roster of Programs and Services
As of 2015, ACCT owns and operates over 600 units of permanently affordable housing--and counting. We do so in five key areas:
- Property management and/or ownership of 258 multifamily apartments:
- ACCT owns, or is the local management agent for, 13 multifamily properties in Addison County. Our recent developments include Armory Lane Senior Housing in Vergennes; Peter Coe Apartments (formerly John Graham Court), Pine Meadow, Middlebury South Village, and Stone Hill Apartments in Middlebury; and Mountain View Apartments in Hancock.
- Our apartments are typically designed to be affordable to families earning less than area median income. Some units carry additional subsidies guaranteeing that qualifying residents will not pay more than 30 percent of their gross income in rent, regardless of how little they earn. Moreover, many of our apartments are in new, energy efficient buildings near downtown hubs.
- Operation of 340 lots in nine ACCT-owned parks for owner-occupied mobile homes:
- Mobile home parks are a significant affordable housing resource in Addison County. ACCT strives to preserve and improve parks in the county and surrounding areas; recently, we helped eight park residents replace their outdated homes with new energy-efficient modular homes called VerMods.
- Down-payment grants and stewardship of 72 homes currently in our perpetually affordable single-family ownership program:
- ACCT offers a limited number of 20-percent down-payment grants to moderate-income homebuyers. In return, purchasers contribute a small stewardship fee and agree to share 75 percent of any appreciation with future affordable buyers, helping to ensure home prices don't outstrip incomes.
- Providing "Support and Services at Home" through the SASH program to up to 250 residents of ACCT senior housing and in surrounding communities:
- ACCT partners with other senior service organizations in the county to operate SASH programs at three sites: Vergennes, Bristol, and Shoreham/Orwell. SASH supports healthy aging in place through providing an on-site Wellness Nurse and a Coordinator who organize activities such as Bone Builders workshops, blood pressure clinics, and more.
- Development of new affordable units to alleviate the county's housing shortage:
- Frequently in partnership with Housing Vermont and HOPE, ACCT provides development capacity that helps channel federal and state resources to Addison County for the creation of new affordable housing, including the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, HOME funds, Community Development Block Grants through the Vermont Community Development Program, and grants from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.
- Currently, we are in the development phase of a planned 14-unit net-zero development in Waltham, McKnight Lane, in honor of ACCT's former Executive Director who passed away tragically in November 2014. As part of this development, ACCT is cleaning up the site of Gevry Mobile Home Park, an environmentally contaminated brownfield that has been vacant for several years.
ACCT's Community Impact
Since 2009 (the earliest year we can track our records), ACCT has housed 982 families. We have preserved nine mobile home parks, developed or substantially rehabilitated 138 affordable apartments, and helped 93 people become homeowners through down-payment grants.
We believe the best illustration of our impact comes from the stories of our residents:
"Every day I feel so fortunate to be a part of life here at the Armory." Lorna Brown is a resident of Armory Lane Senior Housing in Vergennes. Lifeline Vermonters, Lorna and her husband both graduated from Burlington High School and later the University of Vermont, going on to pursue long-term careers in teaching.
When Lorna's husband fell ill, it became necessary to find a safe, caring place for him, so they moved into Armory Lane. Seven months later her husband passed away, but the care and support they received through SASH provided them with quality life experiences. Lorna continues to benefit from the community that has formed at Armory Lane complemented by support from the SASH team.
Homeless to Homeowners in 18 Months. The B’s were a family of six who became homeless around the time when Mr. B also became unemployed. With no roof over their heads and winter approaching, they turned to emergency housing with the local homeless shelter, who in turn referred the B's to ACCT. ACCT worked with the shelter to arrange permanent housing for the family, and a few weeks later the B's moved into a three bedroom apartment in Vergennes.
Being permanently, safely, and affordably housed provided the family stability and allowed Mr. B to return to school, become employed, and plan for the family’s future. With an affordable place to call home and raise their children, the B's were even able to save enough money to purchase their own mobile home through ACCT. Last summer, the family moved into Brookside Mobile Home Park, where they now have more living space and a yard for their children to play in. Having a home they can take pride in has transformed the B's lives.
A Single Mom’s Dream: “My wish for everyone is that they own a home they love, and can afford, and feel the satisfaction of home ownership and the pride that comes with that.” Annie Denny never thought she’d be able to own a home as a single mom in Vermont, especially one as nice as what she now has. “As a single mom with 2 teenagers, living in apartments was not easy and every month I was putting my hard earned money in someone else's pocket. I tried to purchase a home, without success, for 2 years before I found ACCT and with their help, I was able to purchase an amazing house that is perfect for my kids, their friends, my dogs, and myself! We have the space we need and the yard we want, and I feel confident in the knowledge that I can quite happily live here for the rest of my life, able to pay the mortgage on my own.”
“I would love to be an encouragement and a help to others who are interested in working with ACCT now or in the future because I think it is an amazing program and I stand behind their mission 100%."
By any measure, ACCT represents a significant success story--building, managing, and preserving a portfolio of permanently affordable housing in Addison County for the past 25 years. Our work has helped families and individuals meet their housing needs--and in doing so, has helped them achieve a more secure future. Our development projects have also created jobs and leveraged federal, state, and private funds for the benefit of Addison County.
ACCT needs to think of its own future, too--to build its financial strength to meet critical needs that we know are not going away. To be sure that ACCT can continue to provide housing that meets the needs of Addison County's low- and middle-income families for another 25 years and beyond, we seek to increase our general unrestricted funds so that we have the flexibility that allows us to take action when unexpected but fruitful opportunities arise, that also helps to fill inevitable funding gaps with otherwise subsidized projects. We intend to start out modestly (our goal for 2015 is $25,000), but plan to increase our requests over time. The funds will be used for operations and investment, and will be replenished with additional gifts and grants in subsequent years.