BENNINGTON, VT—February 23, 2017—Community leaders gathered at 206 Park Street in Bennington to welcome Southwestern Vermont Health Care employees Russell Carrier and Leah Hart, along with their 9-month-old son Able, to their new home. The young family’s new home was provided by Healthy Homes for Bennington, LC3. The organization is a project of Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC), in cooperation with The Bank of Bennington and the Town of Bennington. Healthy Homes’ mission is to enhance community health while revitalizing Bennington, Vermont’s downtown region by renovating distressed or vacant homes and facilitating home ownership.
“Studies show that home ownership and quality living situations go hand-in-hand with good health,” said Thomas A. Dee, SVHC's president and CEO. “We have an interest in reinvesting in Bennington, helping make it a safe and desirable place to live, and promoting the health of our workforce and their families. This project is a vehicle to achieve this.”
Healthy Homes of Bennington's goals include: providing affordable opportunities for home ownership; assisting with recruitment and retention of a qualified workforce; supporting community development and local investment; establishing stable and supportive environments that improve the health of Bennington families; and boosting the local economy by employing local contractors to perform renovations to distressed downtown homes.
The home, a modest early 20th century colonial, had been abandoned when Southwestern Vermont Health Care began investigating it as the first Healthy Home of Bennington. The group offered the owner the assessed value for the home and contracted with Hale Resources, LLC, to renovate it. The entire property was gutted and re-insulated. New windows, electrical upgrades, and dry wall were installed, in addition to new fixtures and appliances. The house is now in like-new condition.
“The program helps facilitate home ownership for SVHC employees and connects them to Bennington’s economic redevelopment,” said Kevin Dailey, the vice president for Human Resources and the primary administrator for Healthy Homes of Bennington. “We see it as an investment in our community’s revitalization and more importantly in our regional workforce.”
Carrier, a hospital chef, and Hart, a nurse-patient liaison in the post-anesthesiology recovery unit, have a combined total of 12 years with SVHC. The health system put a call out to employees in 2016, which prompted the couple to apply.
“This has been so exciting for us. We are so grateful to SVHC and Healthy Homes for making home ownership possible for us at this stage in our lives,” said Hart. “As a young couple with a 9-month-old, it would have taken years for us to be able to afford a down payment.”
To be eligible for home ownership of a Healthy Home, applicants must be first-time home buyers, have 18 months employment tenure in a full-time or benefited part-time position with household income capable of supporting the debt service. Carrier and Hart's application was accepted in late fall. They closed on the property on February 1. Financing was obtained through The Bank of Bennington. In addition, the buyers must attend a first-time home buyer education program.
“The Bank of Bennington is proud to support this project to improve the health and vitality of our community,” said Jim Brown, president of the Bank of Bennington.
The Town of Bennington has pledged to participate in Healthy Homes for Bennington through making improvements and repairs to municipal infrastructure, including sidewalks and street lights, within associated neighborhoods. The Healthy Homes project organizers have begun work on a second house on County Street. And a third house on Spring Street will begin soon.
“We hope that renovations to these homes will inspire nearby homeowners to improve their properties and that other employers may be inspired to replicate the program,” Dee said.
Images: Exterior Before, Exterior After, Construction in Progress, Kitchen Before, Kitchen After, New Home Owners, Community Leaders with New Home Owners
Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC) is a comprehensive, preeminent health care system providing exceptional, convenient, and affordable care to the communities of Bennington and Windham Counties of Vermont, eastern Rensselaer and Washington Counties of New York, and northern Berkshire County in Massachusetts. SVHC’s providers are members of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Putnam Physicians, a multispecialty medical group operated in partnership with Dartmouth-Hitchcock. SVHC includes the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, a 150-bed long- and short-term care skilled nursing facility; the SVHC Foundation; and Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC), which includes 19 primary and specialty care practices. Primary care offices are located in Bennington, Manchester, Pownal, and Wilmington. To learn more, visit svhealthcare.org.
Southwestern Vermont Health Care complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex. Language assistance services, free of charge, are available at 1-800-367-9559.