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Housing projects get millions as Vermont congressional delegation announces earmarks

Senator Peter Welch stands at a podium while Senator Bernie Sanders stands to his right, reading through some papers.
Corey Dockser
Vermont Public
Senator Peter Welch speaks to reporters about the nearly $74 million in Congressionally Directed Spending, more commonly known as earmarks.

Vermont will receive over $74 million from the federal government as part of the appropriations bill passed earlier this month, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Peter Welch announced. And there’s more on the way.

“The funding we are announcing today will address some of the most important needs in every corner of our state,” Sanders said at a press conference. “It will address our healthcare crisis. It will expand senior centers and meal sites. It will help build community centers, fire stations and improve water safety. The legislation will also begin to address the very serious housing crisis that exists in virtually every part of our state.”

The money comes via Congressionally Designated Spending, also known as earmarks, which distributes already-appropriated money from federal agencies. The practice was banned in 2011 and brought back in 2021.

Among the largest projects are those involving housing: Lamoille Housing Partnership will receive $550,000 to convert a classroom building of the former Johnson State College into more than 20 units of affordable housing and an on-site health clinic. Champlain Housing Trust will receive $5 million for the Bay Ridge Neighborhood Development in Shelburne, which will create 94 new housing units, while Bennington County Industrial Corporation will receive the same amount for 63 new apartments, two new medical facilities, and retail space.

There is also funding for housing organizations in the towns of Newport, St. Albans, Arlington and Woodstock, among others.

Other highlights include $2.3 million to the town of Rochester to convert the Rochester High School building into a community resource facility, $2.2 million to the town of Waterbury to extend the water line to East Wind Mobile Home Park, and $2.5 million to the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board for mobile home construction.

Congress only passed six of the 12 appropriations bills necessary to fund the federal government, so more organizations will receive money in the next bill, which is due to be voted on March 22.

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Corey Dockser is Vermont Public’s first data journalist, a role combining programming and journalism to produce stories that would otherwise go unheard. His work ranges from complex interactive visualizations to simple web scraping and data cleaning. Corey graduated from Northeastern University in 2022 with a BS in data science and journalism. He previously worked at The Buffalo News in Buffalo, New York as a Dow Jones News Fund Data Journalism intern, and at The Boston Globe.
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