Our Mission & History

Our Mission

Downstreet strengthens the communities of Central Vermont by engaging with people, providing affordable homes, and connecting people to the resources and services they need to thrive.

We are a private, mission-driven, not for profit organization dedicated to the creation of equity in opportunities for all through the power housing, and its ability to connect people to the resources they need to thrive. We believe this to be the most impactful and efficient approach to strengthening the health and future of our local communities.

Our History

In the words of American anthropologist Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” It was a group like this, with help from Central Vermont Community Action Council (now Capstone Community Action) and the Institute for Community Economics, that organized Central Vermont Community Land Trust (CVCLT) in the 1980s, officially adopting its bylaws and receiving its Certificate of Incorporation from the Secretary of State in 1987. The company was founded in response to Vermont’s skyrocketing real estate values and the rapid development of expensive homes that threatened the state’s farm and forest land. The community land trust model under which Downstreet originally operated provided a means for offering affordable housing and land conservation through one entity.

Under the organization’s first Executive Director, Rick DeAngelis, single-family homes were purchased in Plainfield, Montpelier, Marshfield, Rochester, Barre, and Granville, laying the foundation for our shared equity program, which has since evolved to become our down payment assistance program. Throughout the early 1990s, a number of Montpelier multi-family buildings were acquired and renovated with financial support from Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB), including our North Branch Apartments, Barre Street Apartments, and Winooski River Apartments.

In 1992, CVCLT became the first community land trust in Vermont to purchase and manage a mobile home park: Whistlestop Mobile Home Park in Bradford. As time progressed, CVCLT grew, more properties were acquired, and programs were developed to address the needs of our communities.

 

In 2015 CVCLT underwent a complete rebranding process and became Downstreet Housing & Community Development. Part of the motivation for this change was to reflect the progress of the organization and a departure from the community land trust model. While Downstreet remains a community-based membership organization, the company no longer owns the land on which our shared equity homes sit, a key element of community land trusts. Likewise, the new name better represents the wide variety of programs and services Downstreet offers. 

Throughout our 30+ years of experience, we have learned that putting housing first creates an environment where people can address all of their needs, from transportation and education to nutrition and healthcare, putting them on a path to a stable and fulfilling life. That’s why we’re here: to provide equity in opportunities for housing and to deliver housing-related services to those who need them most.