Affordable housing development in Guilford gets top award

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GUILFORD — For the second time in three years the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the organization's commitment to sustainable development.

The Windham & Windsor Housing Trust's 17-unit affordable housing development in Guilford won a national EPA Phoenix Award for outstanding achievement in the redevelopment of a brownfield site in New England.

The housing unit in Algiers Village was recognized as the top redevelopment project in New England during a national conference on environmental revitalization and economic development held in Chicago on Sept. 3.

In 2012 The Windham & Windsor Housing Trust and Housing Vermont won the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement in the Main Street or Corridor Revitalization category for the Brattleboro Food Co-op/affordable housing project in downtown Brattleboro.

"The team that worked on Algiers Village Housing is thrilled that this development was selected out of all the potential developments in New England for national recognition," said Connie Snow, executive director of the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust. "It's another indication that Vermont continues to do outstanding work."

Windham & Windsor Housing Trust worked with a number of regional and state partners to develop the affordable housing project in the abandoned warehouse in the center of Algiers Village, including Windham Regional Commission which used EPA funds to create and then fund a remediation

Before the new housing was built, 985 tons of contaminated soil and weathered bedrock were removed and an old tractor repair garage was demolished and removed.

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Susan McMahon, associate director of the Windham Regional Commission, accepted the award in Chicago on behalf of all of the organizations which worked on the community development project.

"This is a great example of how a small, volunteer-led community organization, working with numerous partners, can revitalize a rural village through a vision that employs sustainable development and smart growth," McMahon said.

The call for developing affordable housing in Algiers Village goes back to 2004 when a group of residents formed Friends of Algiers Village to preserve the village and steer future development.

One year later they purchased three properties in the village, and in collaboration with Windham & Windsor Housing Trust developed a Village Master Plan.

The Village Master Plan, which was created with input from the community, included commercial and residential development and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.

Snow said the EPA award is especially rewarding because it celebrates both the creating of affordable housing as well as the remediation of a formerly contaminated site.

"We were able to re-use a brownfield to create attractive in-fill housing in the village center while helping to extend town water," Snow said. "The award is especially appreciated because it recognizes what we can achieve when community organizations, nonprofits, and state and local organizations work together."

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be contacted at 802-254-2311 ext. 279.


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