Communities in Lamoille County celebrated the official completion and grand opening of the Lamoille Community House with a ribbon cutting program and facility tours. Lamoille Housing Partnership (LHP) and Lamoille Community House (LCH) partnered to fill a critical need and establish Lamoille County’s first and only year-round operating shelter for adults experiencing homelessness.

Aptly named Lamoille Community House, the newly completed shelter features 21 guest bedrooms, a shared kitchen, and an office space for area service providers to meet with clients in-shelter, and vital, continuous support to adults in Lamoille County experiencing homelessness. Collaborators Lamoille Housing Partnership and Lamoille Community House combined their expertise in affordable housing development and homeless shelter management to establish and operate the area’s inaugural year-round emergency shelter. Notably, Lamoille Community House is the only year-round operating homeless shelter between Burlington and Barre — a critical resource, indeed.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development’s (HUD) most recently conducted annual Point in Time Count, Vermont has the second-highest per-capita rate of homelessness in the country for the second year in a row, increasing 5% since 2023’s count. In early June, homelessness advocates in Lamoille County reported 181 adults and 97 children were experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness in local communities. Nearly half of the 143 reported households were sheltering in a motel, tent, or vehicle, on the street, or in temporary shelter.

“LCH is excited to finally be bringing this much needed, year-round resource to our community,” said Kim Anetsberger, the Executive Director of the Lamoille Community House. “Throughout the pandemic, we expanded our services to do outreach to hotels and people sheltering outdoors during the warmer months when our seasonal shelter was closed. We served more than three times the people we’d normally serve during one winter and this proved to our community that a year-round shelter was needed. We are so grateful to have partnered with experts in real estate development, LHP, and that the previous owners of the building were intentional in finding a seller that would use the building to serve the community. It was the perfect, kismet lining up of efforts that felt just right for what we needed.” Anetsberger continued, “Now, we are opening a shelter that not only will be open year-round, but will accommodate more guests, and give each person their own room and a real bed providing them with the dignity and respect they deserve. We’re excited to embark on this new chapter for Lamoille Community House.”

LHP owns the facility and led the property’s rehabilitation scope of work, working with Neagly & Chase Construction Company, S2 Architecture, Red Bird Consulting to redesign and update the property using an integrative process with a focus on shelter guest well being, environmental benefits, and cost containment. LCH will lease and operate the facility, offering the same services as the organization’s prior 12-bed, seasonally operated shelter they’ve run since 2017 in the Village of Hyde Park.

“LHP is thrilled to be part of this major milestone,” said LHP’s Interim Executive Director Lucy Leriche. “Jim Lovinsky, LHP’s previous Executive Director, recognized the Forest Hill property’s potential to be a critically needed resource that could meaningfully address homelessness locally. LHP’s 30+ years of expertise in affordable housing development set us up to secure the necessary funds, navigate the complexities and challenges of local development, and choose the right project partners to get the job done and done well. We’re so excited to now open the doors with our partner, LCH, to our neighbors in need.”

A total of $4.3 million in funding was raised from numerous sources to cover the total development costs of the project, including $4.1 million from the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, energy incentives totaling $100K from the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation and 3E Thermal, and funds raised locally by LHP and LCH capital raising efforts.

The permanent Lamoille Community House facility is the culmination of collaborative efforts between the two organizations dating back six years ago, when LHP acted as LCH’s fiscal sponsor while the budding grassroots group sought 501c3 status. For several years, LHP and LCH each searched for an appropriate site for a year-round shelter. In 2022, an opportunity emerged when the Forest Hill Residential Care Home was listed for sale. Owner Dave Andersen intended for the property to continue as a community resource, and introduced the opportunity to LHP. From there, the affordable housing and homelessness organizations teamed up to bring the project to fruition.

Lamoille Community House officially opens its doors to adults seeking emergency shelter July 1, 2024. Shelter seekers should contact Lamoille Community House in advance for an eligibility screening by calling 802-521-7943.