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The Vermont Community Foundation Announces $3.6 Million in Mission Investments Focused on Increasing Affordable Housing and Agricultural Development
Today, the Vermont Community Foundation announced $3.6 million in place-based mission investments focused on expanding access to affordable housing and strengthening the state’s agricultural sector—two community assets that are essential for Vermont’s resilience in the face of COVID-19. The suite of loans and equity investments completed over the last four months channels $2.2 million towards building new affordable housing projects throughout the state, and $1.4 million towards securing the land base and expanding markets for Vermont’s farmers.
The recent investments are part of the Community Foundation’s broader strategy to use its Vermont Investment Pool to support mission-aligned enterprises and real estate projects that foster community connections, reinvigorate local economies, and create equal opportunities for more Vermonters. These strategies have taken on new urgency in the wake of the country’s national crises.
“We believe that our mission investments should work alongside our grants to build inclusive, resilient Vermont communities,” says Dan Smith, president & CEO of the Vermont Community Foundation. “Now is a critical time to put our capital to work in creative ways that ensure more Vermonters have quality housing and reliable access to local food powered by a vibrant agricultural economy.”
Investments are made through intermediaries or directly, with a focus on working alongside trusted co-investors. For example, two of these new investments represent a significant deepening of an existing relationship with trusted intermediaries—Vermont Housing Finance Agency and the Vermont Land Trust, both of which the Community Foundation has partnered with previously. All funding recipients are listed below.
- Vermont Housing Finance Agency ($1.5 million) – Loan to support pre-development and long-term financing that significantly increases the availability of affordable housing. Learn more at vhfa.org/news/blog/VHFA-launches-housing-investment-fund.
- St. Albans Congress and Main ($500,000) – Loan to the City of St. Albans for a mixed-use redevelopment that includes over 60 units of downtown workforce housing.
- St. Johnsbury New Avenue Development ($250,000) – Loan to Housing Vermont to redevelop the New Avenue Apartments in St. Johnsbury, increasing the quality of affordable housing stock and bringing a historic downtown building at a critical intersection back to life.
Agricultural Land Use and Market Development
- Vermont Land Trust ($1.1 million) – Loan for the Farmland Futures Program that provides access to farmland for a new generation of farmers.
- Springfield Food Co-op ($150,000) – Equity investment to move the co-op into a larger building in the center of downtown, leading to increased healthy and local food access for residents.
- Farmers to You ($125,000) – Equity investment to increase the amount of Vermont agricultural products sold directly to families in southern New England.
Maura Collins, executive director of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, expressed enthusiasm around the broad impact of the investment.
“The Vermont Community Foundation’s investment will be directed at affordable housing developments but it will do so much more. The pre-development funding will help communities conquer common development hurdles, while the long-term investment will provide the seed money to leverage $25 million in other sources that will build 100 to 200 new homes for future Vermonters. This will go a long way in supporting the economic development, diversity, and resiliency of our communities.”
Nick Richardson, president of the Vermont Land Trust, shared a similar sentiment.
"With the support of the Vermont Community Foundation, we will be able to buy and hold farmland for longer-term, more affordable, lease-to-purchase arrangements for the next generation of farmers. In the next decade, we will help 200 new farmers build their businesses on land they will own. These farms will contribute to rural vitality by creating new jobs, strengthening agricultural supply chains, and expanding Vermont’s local food economy."
Learn more about the Community Foundation’s mission investments..