LONDONDERRY, Vt. – Paul Alcorn, chair of the Mountain Towns Housing Project (MTHP), is excited to announce that the Bob Perry Lane house is well underway, and the steering committee has reached the first milestone of $100,000 in fundraising to get things started. The Bob Perry Lane house is a modest home currently under construction that will be sold to a local family meeting certain income criteria. Alcorn stated, “We have heard from local residents that they can’t afford to live in the town they grew up in because affordable housing is scarce in our mountain communities. People who have lived here all their lives have a hard time finding an affordable home as they seek to be on their own, start families, establish a business, or find employment with a local business.”
The facts are alarming. Housing prices in Vermont increased by nearly 9% in 2021 and are expected to surge by more than 10% in 2022, according to the latest financial report from the Vermont Department of Finance and Management. In addition, the report anticipates an additional 9% increase in Vermont housing prices in 2023. In Windham and Windsor counties the average listing price of a home vs. the average estimated value rose 122% in just one year (Dec. 20, 2020 to Dec. 21, 2021) according to the Vermont Association of Realtors.
Affordable housing is considered housing for our local workforce or essentially a primary home. This means providing housing for families who earn between $47,093 and $109,000 (80% – 120% of median income in Windham County). These are the folks who teach at our local schools, work at the grocery store, hardware store, at the ski resorts, provide support services for second homeowners, drive the town’s snowplows, wait tables at area restaurants, work at the medical center, and many other jobs.
The Bob Perry Lane project started in early 2021 when a longtime local family concerned with the lack of workforce housing, decided to donate 1.8 acres in Londonderry for an affordable housing project. The donors’ hope was to build a house on the property to make one family’s dream of homeownership a reality. Later in 2021 a group of interested mountain town residents organized the Mountain Towns Housing Project Steering Committee, with the goal of bringing this dream to a reality. The Steering Committee consists of volunteers from a variety of towns including Weston, Londonderry, South Londonderry, Andover, Windham, and Ludlow. The group has also been working with the Windham and Windsor Housing Trust, an affordable housing nonprofit developer serving Windham and Windsor counties.
Laurie Krooss, pastor of the Second Congregational Church and a member of the steering committee commented, “The gift of the 1.76 acres, exemplifies the very best of our Mountain communities – a gift from a long-time local family who want to support folks who live and work in our communities by providing an affordable home of their very own. Given in the spirit of ‘Habitat for Humanity’, the gift of the land is meant to be a hand up not a hand out.” Kross continued, “We are absolutely thrilled that the Mountain Towns Housing Project begins with one house, knowing that this will be the beginning of something wonderful, long-lasting and self-sustaining. We are deeply grateful to the donors of the land as the catalyst for this effort and the Mountain Towns Housing Project!”
Alcorn stated, “While the goal is to build a house that is affordable for a family, the biggest challenge is that it is nearly impossible to build an ‘affordable’ house in today’s market. The cost of construction has skyrocketed.” He continued, “The cost estimates for the construction came in at $355,940 and adding in the cost of a well, septic, running electric to the house, etc., the total price tag of this project comes to $400,000. These funds will offset all upfront costs and the materials needed to build the house. Much of the labor will be done with volunteers, following the ‘Habitat for Humanity’ model.”
When the house is completed and a family has been selected, the new homeowners will get assistance with a down payment grant through the Windham and Windsor Housing Trust and take on a low-interest mortgage. The house will remain affordable in perpetuity through a partnership with Windham and Windsor Housing Trust. Family selection will take place in the spring of 2023 and more information about this process will be shared with the community soon.
Alcorn commented, “The vision of the steering committee is much broader than just one home — we envision this to be the first of many such efforts bringing together local residents, second homeowners, skilled tradespeople, and those in need of housing that is attainable to build additional homes meeting a vital need in our community. This could include new construction on donated land or the rehab of an existing home.”
The next fundraising goal is to raise an additional $60,000 by Dec. 31, 2022. This will allow the group to order the shell of the house in Jan. 2023, which will be constructed by LaValley’s, delivered to the site in late March, and installed on the foundation so volunteer work can be started.
The committee would like to thank all of the donors to date who have supported the Perry Lane project, especially the couple who donated the land for the house. We also thank those individuals and businesses that have donated products or services totaling over $110,000. We deeply appreciate their belief in the project and their help in addressing this critical need in our area. While it is only one house, we know we can do more with the help of the greater community once this project is completed and the keys have been turned over to the family.
The Mountain Towns Housing Project is organized under the 501c3 of the Second Congregational Church in Londonderry, but the project is not religiously affiliated. If you would like to make a gift to support this project, please make your check payable to: Mountain Towns Housing Project and mail it to PO Box 538, Londonderry, VT 05148. If you prefer to give online, you can visit the church’s website at: www.2ndcongregationalchurchvt.org/giving.html then select the “Perry Lane Project”. You can also donate to this project through the Community Fund for Londonderry; make your check payable to: Community Fund for Londonderry, note that it is for the “Perry Lane Project”, and mail it to PO Box 399, Londonderry, VT 05148. To sign up to volunteer to work on the site starting in the spring, contact Paul Alcorn at email@example.com.