May 5, 2020

New SASH-supported Housing Planned for Champlain Islands, Vermont

C.I.D.E.R. in Vermont

Cathedral Square Corporation (CSC) is a 42-year-old nonprofit organization that develops, owns and manages affordable housing for older adults and persons with disabilities in Vermont. CSC created the now nationally recognized Support and Services at Home –  SASH®– program, which provides care coordination in congregate affordable housing settings, and has proven positive health outcomes and cost savings.

CSC has been working on pre-development activities in Vermont’s rural Champlain Islands for a service-enriched affordable senior housing community. The Champlain Islands comprise Grand Isle County and lie in beautiful Lake Champlain, the sixth largest lake in the U.S. which forms the border between Vermont and New York. The three Champlain Islands, which are home to five towns with a total population of 7,000, offer few affordable housing options. Residents live far from services, often in homes that are no longer safe for aging adults. 

To help combat this concern, CSC is collaborating with C.I.D.E.R. (Champlain Islanders Developing Essential Resources) on pre-development of a new SASH-supported senior housing community in South Hero, Vermont. C.I.D.E.R. is a local nonprofit community organization in existence for over 25 years that provides extensive transportation, delivery, meals on wheels and wellness programs on the island to help alleviate the challenges of accessing necessary resources. 

A New Approach to Affordable Housing on the Island

Cathedral Square and C.I.D.E.R. were challenged in finding an appropriate site for a new housing development because, like in many rural communities, infrastructure for water and wastewater is a challenge. Several potential sites weren’t feasible because they didn’t offer adequate septic capacity for a building large enough to support development cost and offer services efficiently.

The town of South Hero, however, recently experienced a surge in community development activity, including a federally qualified health center, a community library, an office building and a café/bagel shop. CSC obtained control of an adjacent site with sufficient septic capacity to build a wastewater system to serve the housing development on a separate parcel across the road.

“Thanks to the support from Enterprise, we have been able to really work through some of these gnarly feasibility issues of where and how can we get enough septic capacity,” says Cindy Reid, CSC director of development. 

Champlain Islands Health Center

Strides Toward Outcomes and Impact

The Section 4 Capacity Building Grant was used to support CSC’s development staff time in working on pre-development of this project. The funding was also used to fund critical due diligence, including civil engineering feasibility work, a HUD environmental review, a market study and an appraisal. This pre-development funding is critical to the success of housing development, as it supports staff time and funds critical early due diligence – all of which helps mitigate the risk inherent in developing affordable housing.
CSC and C.I.D.E.R. have collaborated with a design team to develop an architectural and engineering design for a 30-home building that will serve older adults. 

“The Section 4 Capacity Building Grant made available to Cathedral Square through Enterprise Community Partners provided critical support for the pre-development of a new service-enriched affordable senior housing community in an underserved part of rural Vermont. Early funding for housing development makes a huge difference in being able to engage with the community and afford the due diligence process. Our work to deliver sorely needed SASH supported housing in rural areas would be so much more difficult without capacity support”, says Reid. 

SASH is now statewide in Vermont, and is being replicated in several other states, including Rhode Island and Minnesota. It is also the basis for HUD's IWISH model. Because of the positive outcomes of this care coordination program, other states are also creating something much like SASH through IWISH.

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