I want to thank Housing Vermont and the Addison County Community Trust for making this day possible.
Today is an exciting day for affordable housing and for senior citizens in Addison County. I am particularly excited about this project for four reasons:
First, at a time when many Vermonters are struggling economically, when affordable housing is very hard to come by in Addison County, and when many low and moderate income seniors are spending 50 percent or more of their limited income on housing, this project is sorely needed.
There are only two existing senior housing complexes in Vergennes, and both are completely full with long waiting lists. Even though construction has just begun here, I understand that more than 40 households have already signed up for the 25 units!
Second, this project is much more than just housing. This beautiful, three-story building will bring senior citizens from the surrounding community together in their own senior center, so they can continue participating actively in the life of their community.
There will be twice weekly senior luncheons at the site, and the local Meals-on-Wheels group will operate out of the building, too. At the luncheons, there will be health check-ups available for those who want them, in a private examining room on the first floor.
At a time when hunger among senior citizens is on the rise in our nation; at a time when more than one million seniors a year go hungry and more than 5 million more face the threat of hunger, the importance of providing these meals and health check-ups cannot be overstated. This is an issue of great concern to me, and in fact, just last week I chaired a Senate hearing on this very issue.
Third, as we struggle with global warming and the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions, these apartments will be built with energy efficiency in mind. This project includes solar hot water, a wood pellet boiler, super-insulation, high-efficiency lighting, and many other features. This will create a more comfortable environment for the tenants, and it will keep operating costs low to make sure the housing remains affordable for seniors of modest means. It will also save taxpayers money in the long run.
Lastly, in the midst of the most serious economic recession since the Great Depression, this project is creating many new, decent paying jobs right here in Addison County. This includes construction jobs to build the housing, plus the permanent jobs to operate it.
For these reasons, I am very happy to announce today that I have been able to secure $380,000 in federal funds to support this excellent project.