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Grants Available from VCIL’s Home Access Program

Posted April 23, 2014

The Vermont Center for Independent Living’s Home Access Program (HAP) has $5,000 grants available for housing non-profits improving physical accessibility. To apply for grant funding applicants shall:

Send letter with grant request:

  • Letter shall include
    • Name of organization
    • Amount requested
    • VHCB application (if an application has been submitted to VHCB)
    • Timeline of project, when project will be complete and when funds are needed for the project.


  • The grant may only be used for accessibility modifications.
  • Organizations may receive only one grant per fiscal year.
  • Ideally the funds would be spent by June 30th but if not, then they must at least be committed by that date.
  • Annual grant cycle: July 1st- June 30th

There is currently $15,000 funding still available for this fiscal year making it possible for three housing non-profits to apply for a $5,000 grant.

Send grant application to:
VCIL-Home Access Program
11 East State Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05602

For more information contact Joyce Werntgen at


April Proclaimed Fair Housing Month


This month marks the anniversary of the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968, which sought to eliminate discrimination in housing opportunities and to affirmatively further housing choices for all Americans.  Vermont’s Fair Housing Act, enacted in 1987 and expanded in subsequent legislative acts, now prohibits discrimination further than federal statues.

It is illegal for anyone to discriminate against or harass anyone in housing because of one’s race, sex, sexual orientation, gender, age, marital status, family status, creed, color, national origin, disability, or because a person is a recipient of public assistance.

Last week Governor Peter Shumlin and the Vermont House and Senate proclaimed April as Fair Housing Month to commemorate the 46th anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act and to highlight the unfinished effort to eliminate all housing discrimination in Vermont.

Read the Concurrent House Resolution here.

Check out below the recent documentary A Matter of Place which connects past struggles for fair housing to contemporary incidents of housing bias based on race, sexual orientation, disability, and source of income:

A MATTER OF PLACE from Fred Freiberg on Vimeo.

Learn more:

CVOEO’s Fair Housing Project
Vermont Human Rights Commission
Vermont Law Help
Fair Housing Act Background


VCDA Spring Meeting is on Wednesday, May 28


Join the Vermont Community Development Association for their annual Spring Conference happening in Middlebury on Wednesday, May 28th.  VCDA will be partnering with the Vermont Downtown Program to discuss topics concerning downtown development.  Topics to be discussed include:

  • Nuts and Bolts of Master Planning
  • How to avoid “analysis paralysis”
  • Financing – who has it
  • Best Practices – going from planning to Ribbon Cutting!

A complete registration packet will follow in May.  Contact Theresa Bachand at VLCT for more information at 802.229.9111.


Round-Up of Coverage of Count Showing Increasing Homelessness in Vermont

Posted April 22, 2014

Last week the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness and the Chittenden County Continuum of Care released the results of this year’s Point-in-Time Count of the state’s homeless population.  The 2014 count found an over 9 percent increase in those homeless in Vermont compared to 2013.

Here’s a round-up of some of the media coverage of the report’s findings:

Brattleboro Reformer: Vermont Homeless Population Increases by 9 percent

WCAX: Survey Finds Number of Homeless in Vermont Increasing

Burlington Free Press: Annual Count Finds Increase in Vermont Homelessness

Fox44/ABC22: Homelessness on the Rise in Vermont, According to Point-In-Time Count

Here’s video of the ABC22 report:


Input Sought for Burlington’s One-Year Action Plan for Housing & Community Development


The City of Burlington is soliciting input on its 2014 One-Year Action Plan for Housing & Community Development and on activities to be undertaken as part of that Plan. The City anticipates receiving $716,684 in CDBG dollars and $388,428 in HOME dollars to support housing, community and economic development activities. The City will also allocate $65,814 in Entitlement 13 funds.

To read the draft document, click here.

On Monday, April 28, 2014, at 7:00 pm, there will be a Public Hearing before the Burlington City Council to hear comments on the draft One-Year Action Plan and on the funding recommendations of the CDBG Advisory Board, which comprise the projects and activities for the One-Year Action Plan. Written comments will also be accepted on the Plan through the close of business on May 9, 2014, at the Community & Economic Development Office, 149 Church Street, Room 32, City Hall, Burlington, VT 05401 or


Vermont Council on Homelessness Meeting on Thursday


The next bi-monthly meeting of the Vermont Council on Homelessness is this Thursday, April 24 from 2 pm to 4 pm.  The meeting will be held in the Pavilion, 4th Floor Conference Room on State Street in Montpelier.

Materials to review for the meeting:

Tentative Meeting Agenda

Working Draft Strategy Recommendations for VCH 2015 Annual Update

Section 811 Program Fact Sheet

Draft February Meeting Minutes


Last Day to Register Online for NLIHC’s 2014 Housing Policy Conference

Posted April 21, 2014

Today is the last day to register online for NLIHC’s Housing Policy Conference and Lobby Day. Regular registration closes today, April 21, at 11:59 pm EDT.

Advocates, providers, residents, and policy professionals from across the country will come together at NLIHC’s Annual Housing Policy Conference next week. To mark NLIHC’s 40th anniversary, the conference will spend time looking back at the past 40 years of low income housing, and on moving forward with solving the housing challenges of the lowest income Americans. The conference will culminate with a Lobby Day where attendees will head to the Hill to take action and tell their legislators what their communities need.

Register online today!  More about the conference here.


Demers Interview: Vermont is Home to Plenty Barely Scraping By


In Vermont the population is about 626,000. One in every ten Vermonters, or 70,000, are classified by the U.S. Census Bureau as living in poverty.

The Burlington Free Press recently interviewed Jan Demers, the executive director of Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO), on poverty in the state.  Read the full interview here:

BFP: Could you identify some of the causes of poverty?
Jan Demers: Unemployment, underemployment, lack of education or skill, disability, sudden or chronic health or mental health issues affecting self or family, high medical bills, loss of transportation, loss of federal dollars which undergird section 8 vouchers and stabilized housing.
BFP: What populations are chiefly affected?
JD: That is an interesting question. We, as a society, don’t talk about poverty in a personal sense. Mark Rank, a professor of social welfare at Washington University, says that his research shows that nearly 40 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 60 will experience at least one year below the federal poverty level in their lives and 54 percent will spend a year in poverty or near poverty.  If you add in welfare use and unemployment, four out of five Americans will experience poverty in their lives. That seems like an absurd figure, but then, think about your own life and the lives of those you know.

I can relate to having spent more than a year and a half below the federal poverty level. I would say taking that into consideration that the vast majority of households and individuals in our communities know what it feels like to live in poverty. All of our populations are affected.

Some statistics for those people we serve:

• The largest group we serve are employed, but under employed.
• Most of the people are single but the next largest group are female single parents with one child.
• They rent, own their home or are homeless.
• The largest group is at 50 percent of the federal poverty level and has a high school degree. Eleven
percent of those we serve have had some post secondary education.
• The largest group we serve has Medicaid for health insurance but 17 percent have no insurance at all.  That will change with VT Health Connect.
•Half of the households we serve have a car and most of the people we serve are white. We also serve New Americans, refugees and immigrants, veterans and those who have disabilities.

BFP: How does poverty take root?
JD: Poverty can happen in an instant with the loss of a job, or loss of health insurance, the onset of a chronic disease or the death of a family member.  For someone whose life hovers on the edge of poverty, a major car repair can tip the balance causing potential job loss and housing instability. Poverty is a definite and delicate domino process. It takes an inordinate amount of effort and resources to re-establish stability.

There is an interesting new book out entitled “Scarcity” by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir. Their premise is based on scarcity, which can be related to several life experiences: lack of time, lack of health, lack of resources just to name a few.  One of the symptoms of scarcity is the person’s view is limited and focused on the area of pain. When someone is hungry in Vermont they will be successful finding food but it may take an entire day focused on the scarcity and not on the change needed to prevent another day of hunger.  We know that because of the state’s policy of addressing homelessness in Vermont. In the winter families may find a roof over their heads at night. However, it generally takes all day to get that bed, and there is very little time left to address the larger problem. Breaking the downward trajectory takes intervention.

Read the full interview online here or in PDF format.


SASH Program’s New Website is Now Online


The SASH (Support and Services at Home) Program has a brand new website online now, thanks to Cathedral Square.

The SASH Program is designed to provide personalized coordinated care to help adult participants stay safely at home regardless of their age or residential setting.

The new site connects the community to SASH resources, success stories, news, and contact information.

Visit the new website, and learn more about Vermont’s SASH program from the video below:


Governor’s Council on Pathways From Poverty Featured by NLIHC

Posted April 17, 2014

The Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition played an early role in the development and formation of the Governor’s Council on Pathways from Poverty.  The National Low Income Housing Coalition recently profiled the Council:                                                ___________________________________________________

When the 2014 Vermont State Legislative Session opened in January, advocates were pleased that Governor Peter Shumlin (D) was committed to addressing growing poverty in their state. After hearing from a diverse group of advocates, Governor Shumlin released an anti-poverty initiative in December 2013 that would sufficiently fund housing and safety net programs and increase their efficiency. The initiative also created the Governor’s Council on Pathways from Poverty to determine the nature and primary causes of poverty in the state, to review the extent to which public and private agencies are addressing poverty, and to make recommendations to local, state and federal governments, non-profit agencies, charities, and other businesses on actions that should be taken to respond to the crisis.  Erhard Mahnke, coordinator for the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition (VAHC), an NLIHC State Coalition Partner, was appointed to the council and chairs the subcommittee on housing and homelessness.

In mid-2013, housing, homelessness, domestic violence, legal aid and other advocates, met with the Shumlin Administration to express concern about shrinking federal resources and limited state funds, which have exacerbated homelessness and poverty in the state. Vermont is struggling with record homelessness as shelters reached capacity and the cost of motels and hotels to house people without shelter soared (see Memo9/6/13). Advocates were also concerned with the administration’s plan to cut the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit program, and to put hard time limits on participants in Reach Up, the state welfare to work program.

In September 2013, at Governor Shumlin’s request, advocates submitted recommended actions the administration should take immediately to help people with difficult living conditions. Among their top-tier priorities included were targeted, strategic increases for key public benefit programs including the state’s federal food assistance program (3Squares VT), General Assistance, Reach Up, mental health rental assistance vouchers, and full funding for the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the entity that administers the state’s housing and conservation trust fund. Increased state funding for rental assistance, the Emergency Solutions Grant Program, childcare financial assistance, and job creation programs were suggested to further reduce poverty in the state. They also recommended regulatory and operational changes at the Vermont Agency of Human Services to help these programs work more effectively. Advocates also suggested that the Governor establish an advisory council on ending poverty to make further, long term recommendations to him and to work with his administration on their implementation.

Advocates were heartened by the Governor’s swift response to their concerns. The majority of their budgetary recommendations, mainly those pertaining to housing, homelessness, and childcare, made it into his FY15 budget as a part of his plan to address the poverty crisis. “At their best, our anti-poverty and housing programs make sure that all Vermonters have food and shelter, as well as the help, education and training to find good jobs,” said Governor Shumlin in a press release that outlined the proposals he embraced. “All of us need help in different ways and at different times in our lives. Together we will make sure the programs we support for these efforts are successful and productive.”

The Governor’s Council on Pathways from Poverty, created by executive order the same day the proposals were released, is made up of advocates from the broad spectrum of human services, including housing, homeless services (including formerly homeless persons), healthcare, corrections, private sector developers, domestic violence, women’s concerns, and child and family services. In his new leadership role, Mr. Mahnke will work to keep the council and state administration informed of affordable housing concerns and strategies that should be employed. In addition, Mr. Mahnke is working with advocates in the VAHC network to urge state legislators to adopt Governor Shumlin’s proposed budget. The Vermont House has already included funding for most housing and homelessness programs at the governor’s requested levels. The session is expected to adjourn in May.

“Governor Shumlin has been very supportive of affordable housing and homelessness, so the initiatives we fought against last year came as an unpleasant surprise and brought a major outcry of opposition from low income and housing advocates,” said Mr. Mahnke. “We’ve been extremely heartened by the Governor’s willingness to open lines of communication over the last nine months, embrace many of our recommendations, and create this new forum for dialogue, collaboration and make significant progress in alleviating poverty in Vermont.”

For more information, contact Erhard Mahnke, Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, at

Read the article at NLIHC’s Memo to Members.


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