NEAL P. GOSWAMI
BENNINGTON -- The Regional Affordable Housing Corp. formally opened its newest apartments Thursday, as local and state officials gathered to celebrate the 26 housing units.
RAHC Executive Director John Broderick was joined by Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin and others involved in the project Thursday on the grounds of RAHC's new North Branch Street development. Dozens of other local officials and residents attended to recognize the occasion.
The 26 units are split between 12 rehabilitated, two-bedroom apartments on Benmont Avenue and seven new duplexes on North Branch Street. The combined projects had a cost of about than $6.5 million, and had a
"I'm very proud"
"I think this development fits in very well with the town's vision and the state's vision for where we build new housing -- close to the center of town, on the town water lines, on the town sewer lines, preventing sprawl, increasing density. I'm very proud and I'm very proud of everyone that worked on this development and I think it fits very well and makes a lot of sense," Broderick said.
Shumlin touted the new housing, aimed at providing housing for area workers, for helping to support economic development in the area.
"I just can't tell you how proud I am to be here today to add my support to a project that's making it possible to grow jobs and economic development in the southwest corner of Vermont," he said.
Shumlin also credited local lawmakers for supporting the project, as well as the state's three-man team in Congress, which supported significant funds that allowed the project to move forward.
"It was a year-and-a-half-ago that I was down to announce a grant of $650,000 to make this project possible. I can't take all the credit for that money. None of this good work would happen without the extraordinary commitment of the best congressional delegation in America," Shumlin said.
U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy secured a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders secured a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for renewable energy products across the state. Part of that was used for the apartments, which all use solar and other energy efficiency measures.
Four of the apartments are available at market rates. The rest of the units are reserved for low- and moderate-income people.
Shumlin saved his highest praise for RAHC and others involved in developing the project.
"A year and a half ago this was an idea. We got the dollars. We all worked together to make it happen. Your community organizations, John and the others, pulled the team together to prove that we could get something really important done. And now you look around here and you see extraordinarily energy efficient, affordable housing that is in keeping with the architecture of the state of Vermont, and it's clean, it's beautiful, it doesn't waste energy. Most importantly, it brings this community together to be able to have the workforce that's going to allow us to continue to grow jobs in this part of the state."