Home News Newly Formed Housing Cooperative Is Buying Property in Thetford | News | Seven Days

Newly Formed Housing Cooperative Is Buying Property in Thetford | News | Seven Days

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  • Livable Board Members Conicia Jackson and Nick Clark at Thetford Estate

Habitable Real Estate Cooperative, a group formed last year to build homes in the upper Connecticut River Valley, is financing the first property in a group of three buildings in Thetford.

Livable has signed a deal to purchase a mobile home, a single-family home and a three-unit home in the center of the village, said Nick Clark, who co-founded the cooperative last fall. Together, they are listed at $474,000. The property in question is part of a lot that includes Wings Market & Deli, a grocery store that is also for sale but is not part of the purchase. The homes are now all leased, Clark said on Tuesday. A cooperative purchase ensures that the unit remains residential.

“If someone builds Dollar General and tries to tear down the triplex to make more parking, they could lose those units,” Clark said, noting that the co-op will not be a short-term rental. I added that you can also do common in the area.

Affordable housing is in short supply in Vermont, and the need is especially acute in the upper Connecticut River Valley, where prices have skyrocketed. Keys to the Valley, a housing initiative organized by regional commissions in New Hampshire and Vermont, estimates that 10,000 new homes will be needed by 2030 to meet the housing demand in the area. The Connecticut River Valley has a rental vacancy rate of about 1%, according to Andrew Winter, executive director of Twin Pines Housing Trust, which builds and manages affordable housing. The trust is building several rental projects and also has homes for sale in Woodstock.

Clark, 34, a freelance web developer and chairman of the Hanover Food Coop, created Livable last fall to help address the housing crisis. He said the crisis has made it difficult for families to move to the area and has curbed employment.

“long term, [Livable] It has to be financially sustainable, but I don’t think anyone involved in this thinks we’ll get rich and bring huge returns to our investors,” he said.

Clark and his partners originally intended to focus on building attached housing units (ADUs) on existing homes. They still plan to do so, he said, but he sees the purchase as an opportunity to start securing housing.

The deal is not expected to be finalized until November. Meanwhile, Livable is working to arrange loans from the Cooperative Fund of Northeast, a Massachusetts lender that works specifically with cooperative enterprises.

To raise 20% of the down payment, Clark created a cooperative membership drive. He asks community members to invest in exchange for fairness and voting rights when decisions are made.

He said the goal of cooperatives is to create small-scale developments.

“We are looking to leverage assets that members of our community already own,” he said. “Our focus is not on commercial developments or big apartments.”

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