Waltham, VT— Congressman Peter Welch, state and local officials, community members, and representatives from finance and nonprofit housing and energy efficiency organizations celebrated the opening of McKnight Lane, Vermont’s first net zero energy affordable housing development, at a ribbon cutting ceremony on October 19th. Development partners Addison County Community Trust (ACCT) and Cathedral Square Corporation (CSC) joined forces to re-develop a formerly unoccupied, blighted mobile home park located in Waltham bordering Vergennes, into a vibrant new rental community. The new development, ‘McKnight Lane,’ was named to honor Terry McKnight, ACCT’s former Executive Director who died unexpectedly in November 2014, who had wanted for years to transform this mobile home park.
The new development features fourteen net zero energy homes configured into seven duplexes and available for households with incomes at or below 50% and 60% of Area Median Income. At a time when the vacancy rate in the region is less than 1%, new high quality affordable homes are a rare opportunity for many low income Addison County households.
Twelve homes offer two bedrooms, and two homes offer three bedrooms. Two homes are fully handicapped accessible, and all homes incorporate Universal Design features. A new sidewalk funded in part by the City of Vergennes and a grant from the National Association of Realtors, connects the new neighborhood to the City sidewalk. The cleaned up and transformed development is a welcome improvement to the surrounding residential neighborhood, and to the quality of the adjacent Otter Creek.
The VERMOD homes are manufactured in Wilder, Vermont and incorporate the latest in energy-efficiency design and technology, including a high-performance building envelope, cold climate heat pumps, and a state-of-the-art ventilation system. Each home is designed to have its total energy usage, including heating, cooling, domestic hot water, appliances and plug demands, met by a 6 kW roof-mounted solar photovoltaic array. Each home features a 6 kWh AC sonnen smart solar energy system for backup power. During a power outage, this system can continue to power the home with the solar panels and batteries by automatically disconnecting the home from the grid. It automatically reconnects to the grid when grid power is restored. Solar panels can continue to produce energy to replenish the battery for continuous backup power during the day. The batteries alone can power the home’s critical power needs for up to six hours at night.
"Nearly half of Addison County renters are burdened by their housing costs, paying more than a third of their incomes in rent and utilities. Not only is McKnight Lane affordable to low-income Vermonters, the net-zero homes with resilient battery systems ensure residents won't have to choose between purchasing groceries or paying their fuel bill to stay warm this winter. In particular, the addition of the battery systems through this important energy partnership means that McKnight Lane residents can rest assured knowing they are prepared to weather storms and outages for years to come," stated Elise Shanbacker, Executive Director of Addison County Community Trust.
“This project’s benefits are multiple and long lasting: fourteen new affordable homes help to address the area’s need for affordable housing, the site is clean and no longer a brownfield, and the homes are net zero energy and have resiliency. ACCT and CSC could not have spearheaded this development without the critical support of the local communities of Waltham and Vergennes, in addition to all of our housing and energy funding partners,” said Cindy Reid, Director of Development at Cathedral Square.
The mobile home park had become a brownfield from spilled fuel oil and thus required remediation after the uninhabitable mobile homes were demolished and prior to the installation of the new infrastructure. Funding for the cleanup, new infrastructure, and the VERMOD homes, totaling over $3.6 million, was secured by project developers ACCT and Cathedral Square from many sources, including: Vermont Housing Finance Agency, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, Vermont Community Development Program, HOME Investment Partnership, People’s United Bank, VLITE, Clean Energy Development Fund, Vermont Community Loan Fund, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, Agency of Commerce and Community Development, City of Vergennes, National Association of Realtors, Efficiency Vermont, and in kind support from the Town of Waltham and the City of Vergennes. Funding for the solar battery storage system was provided by Green Mountain Power; Sonnen; Efficiency Vermont; High Meadows Fund and the Vermont Community Foundation Sustainable Future Fund through Clean Energy Group; and in kind support from the Clean Energy States Alliance.
“Since Tropical Storm Irene the High Meadows Fund has supported efforts to create cleanly powered and durable housing options for Vermonters who live in mobile home parks,” said Gaye Symington, president of High Meadows Fund. “And we are very pleased that our work with Clean Energy Group, Clean Energy States Alliance, and the other stakeholders for the inclusion of the batteries for these zero energy modular homes will provide energy security to the tenants, while alsodemonstrating how the combination of solar with energy storage can economically benefit and enhance other low-income housing projects.”
About Addison County Community Trust: Addison County Community Trust (ACCT) is a non-profit organization created in 1990 to develop, own and manage affordable housing for low- to moderate-income households in Addison County. As of 2016, ACCT manages and stewards over 600 homes, including multifamily rental apartments, mobile home parks, single-family homeownership opportunities, and a Support And Services at Home (SASH) program for area seniors.
About Cathedral Square: Cathedral Square is a non-profit organization created in 1977. The organization develops and operates communities for seniors and individuals with special needs. Cathedral Square’s mission to support “healthy homes, caring communities and positive aging” begins with providing service-enriched housing to over 1,154 residents. Cathedral Square owns and/or manages 30 housing communities, each uniquely designed to provide safe and secure apartments at an affordable price. www.cathedralsquare.org. Cathedral Square administers the SASH (Support And Services at Home) program statewide as part of Vermont’s Blueprint for Health. SASH is a care management model harnessing the combined strength of social service agencies, community health providers and non-profit housing organizations.
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