October 2, 2012 – (RealEstateRama) — Gov. Peter Shumlin and Vermont’s Congressional delegation announced today that the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB) will receive a $1.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund Healthy Homes Vermont. The new program will add to existing rehabilitation programs, providing assistance to correct building issues that contribute to unhealthy living conditions like mold, moisture and pest infestation, and particularly affect vulnerable groups, such as children with asthma and the elderly.
VHCB will work with the NeighborWorks® HomeOwnership Centers in Burlington, St. Albans, Brattleboro, Barre, West Rutland and Lyndonville, as well as the Vermont Center for Independent Living in Montpelier, to identify and address health and safety hazards in housing serving low-income residents. Parks Place Community Center in Bellows Falls and the Vermont Department of Health will help with outreach and public education efforts. This project will also support efforts by the Rutland Regional Medical Center to address elevated asthma rates in Rutland County.
The project aims to address health and safety hazards in at least 250 units of low-income housing over a three-year period. Outreach events will provide information to an additional approximately 10,000 people. Program funding will be used in conjunction with rehabilitation, weatherization, property maintenance and lead paint hazard reduction to address housing-related hazards in a coordinated fashion. Statewide standards will be developed for health and safety evaluation and hazard assessment.
“Ongoing research demonstrates that unhealthy housing can cause or aggravate a variety of medical conditions and preventable injuries,” the Governor said. “The timing of this award will help us provide further assistance to property owners dealing with health and safety issues related to Tropical Storm Irene, while helping Vermonters across the state to create healthier home environments.”
VHCB has operated a HUD-funded Lead Paint Hazard Reduction Program for 18 years, reducing lead paint hazards in more than 2,000 homes and apartments throughout the state. VHCB also administered a Healthy Homes Pilot Project in 2005, under a separate HUD grant.
“Homes that are lead-free and safe for children has long been a Vermont priority,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy. “This is a healthy-homes investment in one of our great assets, our older housing stock.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders said, “With this award, HUD has recognized Vermont’s excellent track record of protecting children and their families from health and safety hazards in the home. In addition to having a lot of older homes with lead paint, Vermont is now struggling with addressing mold in homes as a result of Tropical Storm Irene. This funding could not have come at a better time.”
“This is great news. These funds will bolster Vermont’s efforts to make homes healthier and safer for children and families throughout the state,” said Rep. Peter Welch.
For many years, Vermont’s Congressional delegation has supported funding for the HUD budget and encouraged HUD to provide funding to mitigate health hazards in addition to lead paint through a more robust Healthy Homes program.
Healthy Homes Vermont will take a comprehensive approach to housing assistance and address a range of potential hazards. A healthy home is commonly defined as dry, clean, well-ventilated, pest-free, safe, contaminant-free, and well maintained.
Healthy Homes Program Director Ron Rupp said, “Given our experience running a pilot Healthy Homes project, we expect to have this program up and running within a few months. More information will be available on our website (www.vhcb.org/healthyhomes) or people can call 828-5064.”
Source: Office of the Governor