At 7pm on Thursday, September 13th at the Vergennes Opera House, the City of Vergennes will be holding a public forum to solicit stakeholder input on the 2019 Municipal Plan, which is due for a required renewal next year. The Municipal Development Plan "sets broad goals and objectives for the future of the community, and, in doing so, guides the land use, growth, development, conservation, recreation, municipal and business activities in Vergennes."
Vergennes is home to 95 affordable apartments managed by ACCT, as well as a 73-unit mobile home park and 8 permanently affordable single-family homes and condos. We are grateful for the support the Vergennes community has shown to affordable housing initiatives and hope the city will continue to do so in the future. Our most recent partnership involved the extension of the city sidewalk out South Maple St from Thomas Circle to McKnight Lane, a 14-unit net-zero Vermod development just over the city line in Waltham. McKnight Lane shared the cost of the extension with the city, resulting in better connectivity and walkability for residents in both Vergennes and Waltham.
Over the years, several of the historic buildings along Main St have been preserved as affordable housing, such as 224 Main St and 206 Main St. This year, ACCT gave these buildings a curb appeal boost with fresh coats of paint and landscaping. We strive for our properties to make a positive contribution to the streetscape and the wider community.
Speaking of which, the creation of Armory Lane Senior Housing in 2012 brought 25 much-needed affordable apartments for seniors to Vergennes, as well as community space for twice-weekly senior meals where seniors come from all over the city to participate. Along with the affordable apartments, the project also brought a new resource to the community in the form of a Resident Services Coordinator through the SASH ("Support and Services at Home") Program. The SASH program helps seniors stay in their homes and achieve better health and wellness outcomes. It serves not only the 25 households at Armory Lane, but also an additional 60+ households in the surrounding area who benefit from the program.
ACCT surveyed the current residents of Armory Lane as well as the dozens of seniors on the waitlist to gather input about the design of the new building so that seniors as well as families of all ages can feel at home at the new property. To that end, the proposed building will have easy one-level living serviced by an elevator and other features like grab bars, easy-to-operate windows, and plenty of storage to accommodate a wide range of needs. The property will also serve a variety of incomes, with six of the units able to serve households earning up to 120% of area median income ($63,720 for an individual), and another four apartments providing housing and services to formerly homeless households.
If we are able to secure funding for the new property, it will bring almost $7,000,000 of construction activity to Vergennes, as well as tens of thousands of dollars in new property tax revenue annually. It will also support economic development by providing workforce housing, a top priority for area employers. We will need the city's support to see this project through, and that starts with a Municipal Plan that supports affordable housing and "smart growth": development near downtown centers, pedestrian connectivity, public transit, etc.
We hope residents of Vergennes will continue to see the value that ACCT and our diversified portfolio of rental and ownership opportunities brings to Vergennes. In particular, the Municipal Plan can support density for multifamily development. Rental housing sometimes gets short shrift in our public discourse, but it's a vital option for workers who want to move to the area to be closer to work, and can build just as strong communities as ownership housing. For example, the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard has found that "apartment residents—who represent the highest-density renters—are almost twice as likely to socialize with their neighbors as homeowners, and are just as likely to belong to structured social groups and to closely identify with the town or city in which they live." (via Nonprofit Quarterly.) Perhaps another surprise is that research has shown that affordable housing does not negatively impact property values.
Hope to see you on the 13th!
ACCT staff members share news and information about upcoming events.