Vermont receives $3 million for housing rehab

Vermont will receive $3 million in federal money to upgrade the stock of affordable rental housing, according to the office of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

The investment to build, preserve and rehabilitate rental housing is part of a $174 million investment made nationwide by the National Housing Trust Fund — a program modeled in part on the Vermont Housing and Conservation Trust Fund, and the only federal program to support housing for extremely low-income households, Sanders' office says.

The fund was created in 2008, but this is the first year Congress has awarded the program funding. It is supported through a portion of profits made by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, federally managed housing finance agencies, according to Sanders' office.

The Vermont independent, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, was celebrated for his commitment to affordable housing while mayor of Burlington in the 1980s. He first pitched the model to Congress in 2001, his office stated.

Citing the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Sanders said about 7.2 million Americans spend more than half their income on rent and utilities. "When you spend half of your money on rent, that leaves very little for other necessities such as food and medicine," he said in a statement.

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