News & Events
An Election Year Bonanza!
The Capitol Steps is returning to the Latchis Theatre in downtown Brattleboro once again in 2008! This is a show you don't want to miss! The Capitol Steps performed right here in Brattleboro for BACLT in 2006 and 2007 to a raucous, sold-out crowd. A 2008 election-year show promises to be even wilder and crazier! Please check this website in the months ahead for ticket price information.
MAKE YOUR TICKET PURCHASES COUNT! Be sure to purchase your Capitol Steps 2008 tickets through the Windham Housing Trust--profits support our housing work!
For more information about the Latchis Theatre, visit www.latchis.com.A recent housing needs assessment presented a detailed report on the current housing situation in Windham County, along with comparisons to other regional centers across the state. The report, which focused on three Windham County towns – Brattleboro, Putney and Wilmington – presented a startling view of the local housing market and economies, marked by rising home prices and a growing divide between wealthier and poorer residents.
In the Brattleboro housing market, significant changes in the past three years included a dramatic increase in the median cost of homeownership, increased purchase of housing by wealthier non-residents and new residents relocating from higher-cost areas, and significant private investment in small-scale rental properties. The report – authored by Development Cycles of Amherst, MA – also noted significant recent increases in the demand for subsidized housing from low-income renters unable to afford market-rate rents.
The median priced home in Brattleboro increased from $136,700 in 2003 to $190,000 in 2005 – a 40% increase in two years. Of the existing homeowners in Brattleboro, the report estimates that 200 – 250 homeowners live below the poverty line. It is these households that struggle the most with increases in utility costs, property taxes, and adjustable rate mortgage hikes. On the rental side, an estimated 300-350 households live in poverty and do not receive any form of rental subsidy.
On the economic side, the report found that the area is experiencing continued job-loss and stagnating wages. Windham County was the only county in Vermont to lose jobs in 2005. And, while the average wage statewide grew by 12% between 2002 and 2005, the average wage in Brattleboro did not change.
In addition, there is an accelerating split between Brattleboro’s wealthier and poorer residents. While residents earning over $75,000 per year represent just 12% of the town’s households, they are the fastest growing segment of the population. At the same time, 58% of all tax returns filed in 2004 were for taxable income of under $30,000.
Although Putney enjoys a higher median income than Brattleboro, the report noted the lack of any subsidized housing for the low-income families and individuals that rent in Putney (Putney does have subsidized elderly housing through Putney Meadows and Putney Cares). According to the report, low-income renter families in Putney live “largely in market rate housing, have no realistic hope to own, and increasingly struggle to pay their rent and other necessities.” Higher income renters in town can currently afford their rent payment, but have limited options for first-time homeownership in the community.
With a relatively large population of young adults – 27% compared to 19% countywide – Putney has many young families and would be a prime community for first-time homebuyers. However, home prices in Putney are among the highest in the county.
In analyzing housing and the economy in Wilmington, the report emphasized the town’s difference from both Brattleboro and Putney due to Wilmington’s growth in both population and jobs. However, like Brattleboro, Wilmington is experiencing a growing divide between the town’s wealthier and poorer residents. Competition from out of state homebuyers continues to drive up the price of homes, making first-time homeownership even more difficult for local renters.
Important county-wide trends noted in the report included a growing group of young adults that have chosen to remain in Windham County, but lack sufficient rental options. This lack of rental housing contributes to the exodus of young adults from Vermont.
The Development Cycles report was commissioned by the Brattleboro Area Community Land Trust (BACLT).
"Through nineteen years of successful projects in Brattleboro and across Windham County, the Brattleboro Area Community Land Trust has become one of the most respected and recognized community organizations in the state..."
The success of the Brattleboro Area Community Land Trust lies in many hands and in one outstanding leader with the proven qualities of quiet effectiveness, integrity, success in building consensus, and commitment to Vermont’s long-term well-being that this award recognizes.”
On September 6th, the Vermont Forum on Sprawl announced the winners of its first Annual Smart Growth Awards. BACLT Executive Director was awarded the inaugural Arthur Gibb Award for Individual Leadership.
"The Forum established these awards to show how Vermonters are working together to create successful smart growth projects around the state," said Noelle MacKay, Executive Director for the Vermont Forum on Sprawl. "Our award selection committee was thrilled to receive such a great response to our request for nominations in the first year," said MacKay. "All of the projects nominated met our criteria for smart growth, making the selection process difficult," she added.
"We are especially pleased to present the Arthur Gibb Award for Individual Leadership to Connie Snow, Executive Director of the Brattleboro Area Community Land Trust," she added.
The award committee selected Snow because she has used the qualities she shares with Gibb – vision, creativity and collaboration – over the last nineteen years to provide housing and revitalize Windham County communities. She has earned the respect of Vermonters who seek her counsel on making our communities better places to live and work.
"Receiving the first Arthur Gibb Award for Individual Leadership from the Vermont Forum on Sprawl is a tremendous honor," said Snow. "I believe that the work of the Brattleboro Area Community Land Trust has demonstrated, over the past twenty years, that the creation of quality affordable housing and the revitalization of our older downtown neighborhoods has worked to prevent sprawl and to restore community. We’re proud that the Land Trust has created a range of housing choices for our citizens, as well as contributed to the attractiveness and vibrancy of neighborhoods across Windham County," she added.
Arthur Gibb dedicated much of his life to ensuring that Vermont is a better place for future generations of Vermonters. He was deeply involved in passing legislation to ban billboards, enact the state’s bottle deposit law, regulate junk yards and modernize statutes governing local and regional planning. Gibb served his community and state in many ways, including as a state legislator and Environmental Board Chair. He passed away in 2005 at the age of 97.
In addition to other state-wide awards, locally the Putney Planning Commission and its partners won a Smart Growth Award for the plan Visualizing Density in Putney Village. To learn more about these award-winning projects, please visit www.vtsprawl.com. The Vermont Forum on Sprawl works with communities to balance growth and conservation as they plan for their future.
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