This Issue Update newsletter is part of a series that provides more information on each priority issue on the Alliance’s 2020 Legislative Agenda. The Legislative Agenda is crafted annually in partnership with early childhood organizations that are advancing legislative policy solutions related to health, safety, food security, economic security, and early care and education. The 12 priority issues were selected by the Alliance’s 21 member Steering Committee.
Housing and Homelessness
The Alliance supports the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition in securing substantial new funding for the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, rental assistance and supportive services, and statewide housing code enforcement. The state’s chronic underfunding of housing needs means we must find equitable new revenue sources, like the proposed $2 motel/hotel occupancy fee.
Continue reading for more information on this priority issue, including data and talking points, connections to the lead organization and other partners, and advocacy tools.
Data and Talking Points
- According to the annual 2019 Point-In-Time Count, 23% of Vermonters without secure housing were children.
- Last year the average length of shelter stay was 52 days, the longest in more than 18 years. Shelters report some guests staying for over a year simply because they cannot find safe, stable, and affordable housing, often even with a voucher.
- Strategic investments in housing, financial supports, and services help reduce and prevent homelessness; improve the lives of children, families, and vulnerable Vermonters; improve their physical and mental well-being; and improve their chances to succeed and live independent lives – all while building strong, healthy communities.
Homelessness Awareness Day and Memorial Vigil
On Wednesday, January 15, concerned citizens, housing and homeless service providers, and people who have experienced homelessness gathered at the State House for Homelessness Awareness Day and Memorial Vigil.
Legislators bore witness to powerful testimony in the House Chamber – and afterwards, joined on the House steps to remember our friends and neighbors who have died without homes and to bring awareness of the struggles of those still searching for safe, affordable, and secure housing.
Thank you to the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness, Chittenden County Homeless Alliance, and Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition for sponsoring this event and supporting Vermonters’ access to housing all year round.
For more information, visit the Alliance’s issue page on affordable housing.
Increase Access to Safe, Stable, and Affordable Housing
Safe, stable, and affordable housing is essential to children’s well-being and success, and is a key social determinant of health. Housing instability, homelessness, and unsafe housing contribute to childhood trauma, ACEs, and negative outcomes. Increasing state investments in affordable housing, reducing homelessness, and improving the health and safety of rental housing are critical to improving children’s outcomes.
Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition
The Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition (VAHC) is a statewide membership organization dedicated to ensuring that all Vermonters have safe, adequate, physically accessible, and affordable housing, particularly the state’s low and moderate-income residents, people with disabilities, the homeless, elders, and families with children.
Sign up for the VAHC newsletter here.
Resources and Advocacy Tools
The Point-in-Time count is an annual “snapshot” of all the individuals and families in Vermont who are experiencing homelessness. Data from the count shapes the state’s response to our housing crisis.
This statewide count, taking place on the night of January 22, is planned, coordinated, and carried out locally with the support of the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness.
The count is required by the US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for all communities nationwide that receive federal dollars to serve individuals and households experiencing homelessness. It also helps to identify areas of need, measure and monitor trends in homelessness, and support the communities’ needs when applying for funding.
For more information and to volunteer, visit the Point-in-Time website.
Schedule an Advocacy Training
Schedule an Alliance training for a group of early childhood professionals, providers, parents, or employers interested in strengthening their advocacy skills or learning more about the issues on the Alliance’s Legislative Agenda. Be informed and ensure your voice is heard on issues impacting Vermont’s young children and families.