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  Budget Cuts Forcing Housing Authority Consolidations
For fiscal years 2010 and 2011, many states are facing budget shortfalls. Some, like California, face significant shortages. The lack of resources is forcing states to eliminate and consolidate departments and services. Some are exploring ways to combine affordable housing-related activities. Vermont is a prime example.

Vermont currently has two separate affordable housing agencies and two additional government departments that deal with varied aspects of affordable housing development. A report commissioned by Governor Jim Douglas' administration recommends consolidating all of those departments into one.

Currently, the Vermont State Housing Agency, the Vermont Housing Finance Authority, and programs in the Vermont Housing Conservation Board, and Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development all offer similar programs and services. Combining them, says the report, could save the state about $450,000.

Proponents of the consolidation plan say the money saved could be re-invested into development programs that would create more affordable housing in Vermont. However, because the state currently has a budget shortfall, any savings would likely be used to bridge the gap. Though there may not be a direct monetary benefit, developers could benefit from simplified application processes. They'd only have to submit one application to one department for any Vermont-related development, and wouldn't have to spend time researching the various departments to determine which one should receive applications for a certain type of development.

The governor's office has received the report and is considering the recommendations. There's no indication if or when any of the recommendations will be implemented. The full report can be view at the Department of Economic, Housing & Community Development web site.

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