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Grants for Homebuyers, Environmental Justice Projects

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First Generation Homebuyer Program Offers $15,000 Grants

The state of Vermont has renewed funding for the First Generation Homebuyer Program. Originally released as a pilot program in 2022, the program is now widely available and offers eligible homebuyers a $15,000 grant to help with a down payment and closing costs. Interested homebuyers can now apply through any local VHFA participating lender (bank, credit union, or mortgage company).

The program has helped 54 first-generation homebuyers purchase their first home in Vermont so far. “Without the VHFA program, I would have not been able to afford this house!” said Zeynab Koutaye, the first person to use the grant back in January. The VHFA expects the program to help even more first-generation homebuyers in the coming year.

To be eligible, homebuyers must qualify for a VHFA mortgage and meet certain income, asset, and first-time homebuyer requirements. In addition, at least one person taking title to the property must: (1) have parents or legal guardians who have never owned a home in any state or country; or (2) have parents or legal guardians who lost ownership due to foreclosure, short sale, or deed-in-lieu, and have not owned again; or (3) be an individual who has at any time been placed in foster care.

Funding for the program is intended — in part — to help more Black, Indigenous, and persons of color (BIPOC) buy a home in Vermont. According to recent Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data, approximately less than 4% of all mortgages originated in Vermont in 2022 went to households with individuals identifying as BIPOC. Of the 54 households who have received a First Generation grant so far, 20% include an individual who identifies as BIPOC.

All homebuyers who meet the eligibility requirements are encouraged to apply. Interested homebuyers should begin by contacting a VHFA participating lender or by visiting vhfa.org/firstgen.

—press release

Funding Available to Support Community-Driven Environmental Justice Projects

The Vermont Community Foundation is seeking proposals for programs or projects that help local communities adapt to the impacts of Vermont’s changing climate and the increase in severe weather events.

 The Environmental Justice Small Grant Program is designed to support Vermont communities facing increasingly severe weather events and rising temperatures. Just as Vermonters adapt to the changing seasons, it is important that our communities prepare themselves for the long-term effects of a changing climate.

 This grant program will support communities with heightened risk and increased sensitivity to climate change, including communities that have less capacity and fewer resources to cope with, adapt to, or recover from climate impacts. The degree of risk and sensitivity stems from physical (built and environmental), social, political, or economic factors, which interact with each other and are exacerbated by climate impacts. These factors include race, class, sexual orientation and gender identity, national origin, and income inequality.

Projects may represent a wide spectrum of ideas and activities, including arts, community education and skill building, food access, green jobs, projects that reduce risk and harm, multi-generational climate activities, youth leadership, movement building, and more.

 Applications will be accepted between Oct. 19 and Dec. 1, 2023. Applications and supporting documentation must be received by 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1 to be considered. Grant decisions will be made in consultation with a diverse and volunteer review committee made up of organizational partners, community members, and stakeholders who represent different geographic areas of the state.

 Visit vermontcf.org/ejgrants for more information and to apply.

—press release

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