Mayor’s Office

Bright Street Cooperative Wins Audrey Nelson Community Development Achievement Award


February 9, 2017
Contact:  Marcy Esbjerg


Bright Street Cooperative Wins Audrey Nelson Community Development Achievement Award
National Award recognize exemplary uses of CDBG and HOME Programs; partnerships between local governments and non-profits to assist low- and moderate-income persons

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today announced that the Champlain Housing Trust (CHT) Bright Street Housing Cooperative, a new, 40-unit resident-controlled housing development in the Old North End, has been selected for the 2017 Audrey Nelson Community Development Achievement Award from the National Community Development Association (NCDA). The City of Burlington, which sponsored the award, is pleased to join six other communities selected to receive the award on behalf of the co-op.

The award will be presented during the NCDA’s Winter Conference on Friday, February 17 in Washington, D.C. Burlington representatives from the Burlington Community & Economic Development Office (CEDO) will be on hand to receive the award. Burlington’s Congressional Delegation and their staff have been invited to share in this honor.

“One of the primary focuses of this Administration has been on addressing Burlington’s affordable housing crisis,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “The City was pleased to support Champlain Housing Trust in the creation of 40 much-needed units that will provide homes for families and individuals from a range of backgrounds and income levels. We are thrilled that the product of this partnership has been recognized by the national Audrey Nelson Community Development Achievement Award.”

“The Bright Street Co-op showcases what can be accomplished with innovation and cooperation,” said CEDO Director Noelle MacKay. “Listening to community needs, utilizing public funding strategically, and working together, Champlain Housing Trust, the City, and our many partners were able to clean up a brownfield site, and replace a shuttered business with new homes and new neighbors. The CEDO staff is proud to have been able to support this exciting neighborhood project and grateful for our federal delegation for their support.”

Audrey Nelson was the first Deputy Executive Secretary of NCDA.  She grew up in an inner city Chicago neighborhood which was a target area for the local Model Cities Program. Her intense commitment to her neighborhood, her local program efforts, and her drive to serve low-income people was cut short by death from cancer at the age of 29. NCDA is proud to honor the memory of Audrey through these awards, establishing the Audrey Nelson Community Development Achievement Award in 1987 to recognize exemplary uses of the CDBG and HOME Programs and the partnerships between local governments and non-profit organizations to assist low- and moderate-income persons. 

The City provides Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to address critical and unmet community needs, including those for housing, public facilities, infrastructure, economic development, public services, and more. It provides HOME Investment Partnership funds to address the ongoing affordable housing needs of the City.

Since 2012, the City provided CDBG funding to the Bright Streets Cooperative, a 40-unit housing development intended to meet the needs of residents of mixed backgrounds and income levels. Federal Community Development Block Grant and HOME Investment Partnership funds provided over $500,000 dollars to the project, and the City of Burlington’s Housing Trust Fund contributed $125,000. These federal funds leveraged other public and private investments for the $11 million dollar housing project.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who serves as the Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, praised the Bright Street Project. “Few states have led as Vermont has led in making affordable housing a priority for all families. That is why last year I was proud to host HUD Secretary Julián Castro to visit the Bright Street Co-op to witness how Burlington has successfully leveraged federal funds to build community in our Old North End. I am proud to know that Champlain Housing Trust and the City of Burlington’s CEDO have been recognized for this project and know they will continue to set a high bar for communities everywhere.”

Bright Streets replaced a neighborhood in Burlington’s Old North End that was formerly home to foreclosed and run-down properties, in addition to a 1.1 acre industrial site with PCB contamination that called for significant remediation before redevelopment could occur. In 2012, Champlain Housing Trust (CHT) met with the Wards 2/3 Neighborhood Planning Assembly and later convened a committee of neighbors to help inform and advise the redevelopment plans. The committee strongly urged CHT to organize the new housing development as a resident-controlled housing cooperative. CHT partnered with several state and local organizations on this project, including the Vermont Community Garden Network, Association of Africans Living in Vermont, and local neighbors, in order to ensure the housing cooperative met the needs of diverse communities. Housing Vermont is a co-owner of the building and a critical partner in the success of the project.

“It’s always cause for celebration when we can create new affordable housing, but the Bright Street Housing Co-op is extra special because of all the great partners we worked with to not only build it, but to engage the community along the way allowing for residents to be a part of the neighborhood from day one,” said Brenda Torpy, CEO of Champlain Housing Trust.

The project broke ground in 2015 and was completed in August of 2016. Vermont’s Congressional delegation participated in the Bright Street ribbon-cutting on September 1, 2016. At the time, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Julian Castro joined in the opening celebration.

The housing project features several innovations which can be replicated in other parts of the country. The 40 units are home to residents of mixed income and backgrounds, providing an inclusive and diverse community. Larger units are home to some of Burlington’s refugee families. The community includes common areas and community gardens. 

*Please see photos of the Bright Street Co-op and ribbon cutting ceremony

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