Dorset Commons Purchased by Champlain Housing Trust: Organization Pledges to Keep Rents Stable

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Thursday August 09, 2018

The Champlain Housing Trust (CHT) announced that it has acquired Dorset Commons, a 15-acre property with 105 apartments on Dorset Street. The property, which was originally built in the late 1970s and was owned by Veve Enterprises, sold for $14,405,000.

“Across Chittenden County, rents continue to rise, and vacancy rates remain very low,” said Michael Monte, chief operating and financial officer at the housing trust. “Purchasing Dorset Commons preserves this stock of housing as affordable for the tenants who live there.”

A number of properties over the past several years have been demolished and redeveloped, or seen rents rise beyond what people could afford, leading to displacement of tenants. “While the increased construction in Chittenden County is, in general, a good thing, there continues to be a lack of housing for low and moderate income individuals and families. We felt it necessary to step in and save this property,” added Monte.

Properties such as Dorset Commons are sometimes referred to as “naturally occurring affordable housing” since there were no public funds invested in constructing the development or restrictions on rent or incomes of tenants. The average rent for a two-bedroom at Dorset Commons is currently $1,200. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Fair Market Rent in the region is $1,442.

All the current tenants will have their leases honored and rent kept stable. New managers and maintenance staff have been onsite to introduce themselves and answer questions. As with all tenants of the housing trust, Dorset Commons’ residents will automatically become members of the organization giving them access to free credit counseling and homebuyer education classes. Members also are invited to a summer picnic each year, an annual meeting, and awards dinner to elect the board of directors.

John Simson, chair of the South Burlington Affordable Housing Committee says this is good news for the city. “I am very pleased with the purchase of Dorset Commons by Champlain Housing Trust (CHT). It preserves over 100 units of housing that are affordable for young families, seniors and others who contribute to South Burlington’s economy. Congratulations to the former owners who understood the need and took the opportunity to leave a legacy for their tenants. CHT will see that these well maintained homes, in an excellent location, will be perpetually affordable,” he said.

Bank financing was provided by TD Bank, N.A. In order to keep the rents moderately affordable, financing was also provided by the State of Vermont Treasurer’s Office Local Investment Program, the Vermont Community Foundation, and the sellers, with an equity grant provided by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. CHT adds that the transaction also included a bargain sale by Veve Enterprises, which means the sale will be recorded at the appraised value, but the sellers made a charitable gift essentially lowering the cost that needed to be financed.

“All Vermonters deserve safe and affordable housing options,” said Vermont Treasurer Beth Pearce. “The treasurer’s office is committed to working with our partners, like Champlain Housing Trust, to identify capital gaps and leverage state dollars to fill the need and improve Vermonters’ quality of life.”

The Champlain Housing Trust has nearly 3,000 homes under its stewardship, including approximately 2,300 apartments. CHT serves the communities of Chittenden, Franklin, and Grand Isle counties.