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White River Valley towns receive grant to improve housing market

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 3/8/2022 4:55:37 PM
Modified: 3/8/2022 4:55:04 PM

ROYALTON — A collaboration of 14 towns in the White River Valley has recently received a three-year, $300,000 grant to work toward increasing housing for entry-level workers and beginning entrepreneurs.

The Working Communities Challenge grant through the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston is aimed at allowing the White River Valley Consortium to build on work it did during a planning phase funded by an earlier grant, said Sarah Danly, the effort’s project manager.

The members of the consortium, which includes municipal, business and nonprofit leaders who began working together in 2019, decided to focus on housing because the Keys to the Valley project, a housing study compiled by the Upper Valley’s three regional planning commissions last year, gave them some ideas for where to start, she said.

For now, the consortium plans to focus on “missing middle housing,” Danly said. Because the White River Valley communities are small — all have fewer than 5,000 residents — it wouldn’t make sense for the group to focus efforts on constructing a single large development, she said. Instead, the focus is on “smaller-scale disseminated solutions,” such as helping to develop accessory dwelling units attached to people’s homes or rehabilitating old buildings that are currently uninhabitable.

The group doesn’t yet have a target number for new units to create over the next three years, but the aim is to change systems to facilitate more creation and to increase equitable access by addressing issues such as affordability, she said.

The consortium’s other priorities include addressing challenges such as racial equity, child care and mental health access, Danly said.

The 14 communities involved include seven in the Upper Valley: Chelsea, Tunbridge, Sharon, Randolph, Royalton, Bethel and Strafford.

The group is inviting people to share their experiences with housing in the White River Valley through an online form at https://vitalcommunities.org/the-white-river-valley-consortium/. People interested in volunteering or otherwise participating in the effort can also contact Danly directly at sdanly@vitalcommunities.org.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.




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