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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Solar-powered affordable housing project in Hardwick gets $15K gift

HARDWICK — NorthCountry Federal Credit Union (NCFCU) awarded Lamoille Housing Partnership (LHP) $15,000 in funding to increase Hardwick’s Village Center Apartments’ photovoltaic generation capacity, an energy efficiency enhancement to improve future resident quality of life and further offset the affordable housing development’s carbon footprint.

“Enhancing Village Center Apartments’ solar energy generating capacity is a win for people and the environment,” says Jim Lovinsky, Executive Director of the nonprofit affordable housing organization that develops income-eligible rental homes for lower and moderate-income earning households throughout Hardwick and Lamoille County. “LHP prioritizes resident affordability and high quality community infrastructure, and we make good on this in part by maximizing energy efficiency in our community development projects.”

The all-electric, energy-efficient, solar-paneled Village Center Apartments features 24 affordable apartments that LHP will rent to lower and moderate-income households at rates proportionately affordable to the renter’s income.

A mix of studios, one, two, and three-bedroom apartments will cost between $650 and $1,000 per month depending on household income and includes heat and utilities.

Excluded from Village Center Apartments’ monthly rent is electricity, and the project’s development team saw an opportunity to reduce this housing cost for the residents: if the property’s photovoltaic capacity were increased, the 24 future households would benefit from $376 to $416 in electricity cost savings annually and the building’s reliance on nonrenewable energy would be cut by another 25 percent.

“The impact of the savings makes a real difference. It could mean that a household has money available for an emergency, for building financial stability, or for buying their child the birthday present they asked for,” says Lovinsky.

But, there was a problem. Like many development projects under construction during the pandemic, Village Center Apartments was not immune from exponentially rising building material prices and supply chain disruptions which quickly added costs to the development’s bottom line.

The July 3rd fire didn’t help matters. Suddenly the funding the development team had been relying on for the photovoltaic enhancement evaporated, putting into question the potential resident and environmental benefits.

The nonprofit organization does not generate significant income from rental revenue, its primary funding comes from state and federal grant programs as well as philanthropic support from businesses, foundations, and individuals.

“We started reaching out to funders for their help to overcome this unanticipated $97,000 funding barrier,” says Lovinsky. “LHP is thrilled to have NCFCU with us in this aspect of our work.”

“While individuals and organizations continue to move forward, we recognize that the events that occurred in the last two to three years have had a lasting effect,” says Floyd Nease, a board member of NorthCountry Federal Credit Union. “Our goal with every donation is to make a positive impact that allows members in our communities to live safe and enriched lives. Affordable housing continues to be a necessity in Vermont, and we are grateful to be able to expand our giving efforts with LHP to increase access in Lamoille County.”

LHP still faces an $81,000 funding gap with Village Center Apartments’ photovoltaic capacity enhancement.

LHP invites foundations, businesses, and community members to become part of the nonprofit’s affordable housing work by making a contribution to the development’s enhancement.

To make a contribution of any amount, even $1, contact Kerrie Lohr, LHP’s Advancement & Communications Director at [email protected] or 802-888 – 5714.

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