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Job Opportunity: Accounting Specialist at RuralEdge

Posted February 24, 2015

RuralEdge has an immediate need for an Accounting Specialist. This entry-level opportunity with room for growth is a new permanent position. The Accounting Specialist will be responsible for performing many day-to-day accounting functions using Intacct, a cloud-based accounting software. The successful candidate will be reporting to the CFO.

Primary responsibilities are: Monthly, quarterly, annual account reconciliations, maintain prepaid schedules, audit file compilations, process replacement reserve payments, process monthly escrow deposits, quarterly reporting for external parties, general ledger analysis, other clerical duties.

Basic Qualifications:
• High school diploma or equivalent
• 1-3 years of previous experience in finance, accounting, credit, customer service, and/or similar function, additional education may be substituted in part
• Ability to accurately type a minimum of 25 words per minute
• Experience with Microsoft Office Suite software, particularly Word, Outlook, Excel and Access

Preferred Qualifications:
• College degree in Business, Accounting, Finance, or related field
• Excellent time management skills with ability to manage multiple priorities and meet deadlines
• Proven analytical, problem solving, and decision making skills
• Superior organizational skills and strong attention to detail
• Process oriented
• Must have demonstrated initiative and ability to work independently, as well as in a team environment
• Customer service focused with the ability to partner with internal/external contacts
• Flexibility to adapt to a dynamic business environment• Ability to handle confidential information
• Effective communication skills, both oral and written

To apply click here.



Committee Abandons Homeless Shelter Plan for St. Johnsbury


“Committee Abandons Homeless Shelter Plan for St. Johnsbury” (View original article published February 6th in the Valley News here)

A St. Johnsbury committee has abandoned plans to establish an overnight warming shelter for homeless people this winter in the northeastern Vermont community.

Sue Cherry of the St. Johnsbury-based Community Restorative Justice Center says they’re going to wait until next year.

She says there was no way to get a shelter up and running before the middle of March.

Cherry tells the Caledonian Record ( the momentum is there to get it going for next winter. She says organizers see a shelter as a way of meeting needs, serving the public and providing resources.

The committee is made up of members of a number of social service organizations in the region.


Rights of Landlords and Tenants in Vermont

Posted February 18, 2015

WCAX recently featured a segment regarding tenant and landlord rights with guests Pam Favreau and Angela Zaikowski. Pam is with Vermont Tenants and Angela is with the legal firm Bennett and Zaikowski which represents landlords. View the coverage in the embedded videos below or at the link here.


Warming Shelter Opens in Burlington


Last week a temporary warming shelter opened in Burlington at the Ethan Allen Building on College St. The low barrier shelter is operated by CVOEO and will remain open through April 3rd. Read and view coverage from below.

Starting Monday night, Burlington’s homeless will soon have a new place to spend the night.

“The stretches of four, five days when it’s below zero, people are definitely in need of a place to stay,” said Burlington Warming Shelter Associate Director Casey Lee.

The Champlain College owned Ethan Allen building on College St. has been transformed into a temporary shelter by the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity.

“For the women we have eight cots set up, and then there are two more sections six for men in the center, and then another six for men on the end,” said Champlain Office of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Jan Demers.

Twenty beds, a couple couches and even entertainment for as many people as they can fit.

“It’s been a good reaction so far,” Lee said. “I’ve had individuals asking about when it’s going to open, what it’s going to look like, what are the ammenaties like.”

What makes the Burlington Warming Shelter unique is they’ve lowered their criteria to make it easier for the homeless to get in.

“Some resources require that you might need an ID or social security card or other things that people who are homeless might not have, and to access the shelter you don’t need that,” Lee said.

Some rules apply: no drugs or alcohol allowed in the warming shelter. That’s monitored by paid volunteers around the clock.

“A quick screening form and we go over the rules and regulations of the place, and as long as you agree to them and abide by them, you’re allowed to stay,” Lee said.

The warming shelter is open from six at night to seven in the morning every day of the week. 50 to 60 volunteers will are working multiple shifts and they are still looking for more people to help.


USDA Rural Development Invested More Than $125 Million In Vermont Communities, Businesses and Homes in 2014

Posted February 13, 2015

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Wednesday that Vermont communities, families and businesses benefited from $125 million in USDA Rural Development (RD) grants, loans and loan guarantees in Federal Fiscal Year 2014.

“These funds helped thousands of Vermonters find affordable homes, find good paying jobs, and access vital community services,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Ted Brady. “As the federal government’s only agency devoted to assisting rural communities, USDA Rural Development is a one stop shop for the people, businesses and communities of rural Vermont. The hardworking men and women of the agency have a singular focus, helping our rural communities thrive.”

Brady noted that funding was used to bolster Vermont’s food systems economy, to build water and wastewater systems, to help businesses create jobs and produce renewable energy, and to build or purchase essential community facilities such as libraries, fire trucks, schools and arts venues.

The Newport-based non-profit Green Mountain Farm Direct used a small portion of that $125 million, a $102,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant, to connect farmers with schools and other large institutional buyers. The new owner of The Inn at Round Barn in Waitsfield used a $1.4 million loan guarantee to purchase the inn retaining 39 jobs. The Town of Hancock used a $50,000 Community Facilities Grant to convert their historic school house into town offices and a library. And more than 2,000 families benefited from Rural Development loans, grants and rental assistance to help them buy, repair or rent their homes. For more information about the communities, businesses and people Rural Development served in 2014 visit

President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $208 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural areas. For more information on Rural Development, visit


Cold Winter Stretches State’s Emergency Housing Budget

Posted February 10, 2015

VT Digger reports on how demand for emergency housing this winter has increased, particularly amongst families with children, and how this affects the state’s budget for temporary shelter:

A cold winter and greater demand for emergency housing services, especially among families, are straining the state’s safety net housing budget, an official told lawmakers Friday.

The state provides up to 28 days of temporary housing to individuals and families who are homeless if someone is age 65 or older; if they receive Social Security or disability; if they are under age 6; or if they are in the third trimester of pregnancy. There are also ways for specific vulnerable populations, such as disabled veterans or Reach Up recipients, to qualify.

In addition, there is a cold weather exemption that relaxes the eligibility requirements when temperatures drop below 20 degrees, or 32 degrees with snow or freezing rain.

Since July, more than half of temporary housing granted was through the cold weather exemption, despite the fact that no days in October met the criteria. The state has spent more than $855,000 through the exemption this winter.

“That’s getting close to what we spent all of last season, and we still have February, March and some of April to get through,” said Sean Brown, deputy commissioner in charge of the Department for Children and Families Economic Services Division. January was particularly bad, with every night meeting the cold weather requirement in all 14 counties, Brown said.

A lack of space in shelters has increased the number of people the state is putting up in hotels and motels, he said. Requests for housing were up 64 percent through December, and the state provided 50 percent more hotel rooms per night.

The increasing need among families seeking shelter has resulted in a 144 percent rise in the number of children who received housing through the cold weather exemption, which Brown called an “alarming” statistic.

Often space for families in shelters is limited, and many wind up in rooms rented by the state. At the same time, the average cost of hotel and motel lodging for those who can’t find space in shelters has increased from $61 to $70 this fiscal year over last.

The problem is especially bad right now in Barre where space for families in shelters is scarce, and the cost for hotels in the temporary housing program is the highest in the state at $80 per night, Brown said.

To read the entire article click here.


Is every HOMELESS VETERAN getting needed help?

Posted February 9, 2015

Below is some information from Supportive Services for Veteran Families:

Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) has the resources to help very low and extremely low-income homeless veterans. The general eligibility can be viewed here (PDF file), but a short call to 802-656-3232 can help determine eligibility and start the process to getting housed. SSVF works in the housing first model. So getting the veteran housed is the first priority.

We are in our third year and we are certain there are more homeless veterans than are receiving help. Is the appropriate question being asked at intake? “Are you a Veteran?” has specific meanings. SSVF criteria are for a single day of active duty service and other than a dishonorable discharge. “Do you have any military experience?” is probably a better question at intake.

The SSVF theme for this year is community coordination to end veteran homelessness. We are looking forward to working more closely with you now and in the future.



Richmond Terrace Receives the Major Renovation Honor Award from Efficiency Vermont

Posted February 6, 2015

Richmond Terrace Senior Living was the recipient of the Major Renovation Honor Award from Efficiency Vermont in 2015.

Cathedral Square (owner) and Duncan Wisniewski Architecture (project architect) received the award at Efficiency Vermont’s Better Buildings by Design Conference on February 4, 2015.

Efficiency Vermont’s “Best of the Best in Commercial Building Design & Construction” awards recognize innovative and integrated design approaches for energy efficiency in Vermont’s commercial, institutional, industrial and multifamily buildings.

Richmond Terrace underwent a deep energy retrofit and capital improvement program in 2014.  This is a 30 year old 16-unit affordable senior housing development in Richmond.  Renovations included improvement of the thermal envelope, installation of air source heat pumps for heating and cooling, new windows, and a 13.3 KW ground mount solar PV array.

Richmond Terrace

Photo Credit Sally McCay


Rent-To-Own A Raw Deal For Poor People, Lawmakers Say

Posted February 5, 2015

Yesterday VPR reported on new legislation that would cap interest on rent-to-own purchases and require stores to clearly indicate the total price that the consumer will pay after installments to own each item. Advocates argue that these businesses target low-income consumers who also often lack proper financial education. Many lawmakers also agree that it is time to impose stricter regulations to protect those who are most vulnerable:

The rent-to-own industry has mushroomed into an $8.5 billion business nationwide. But advocates for low-income Vermonters say that stores like Rent-A-Center are profiting too heavily from the desperate circumstances of poor people.

This script from a television commercial for Rent-A-Center is designed to get people in the door:

“Red hot deals are here at Rent-A-Center. Right now you can make the hottest brands yours for as low as $17.99 per week … Choose a red hot deal on a new 50” Toshiba LED Smart TV, only $19.99 per week.”

And East Montpelier resident Brenda Brown says it works.

“That’s where it gets you. That’s where people go in and, like, OK yeah, we can rent, you know, hey, I can afford that or $12 a month,” Brown says.

Brown speaks from experience. And she shared her story with the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs Wednesday morning.

Brown has long since returned most of her rented goods, having learned she’d end up paying three or four times their retail price if she ever wanted to own them. But she says her low-income peers – Brown lives exclusively on disability payments – aren’t as wise to the marketing ploys of places like Rent-A-Center, or Aaron’s, the two companies that dominate the rent-to-own sector in Vermont.

“If you don’t have the money, yes, it’s there, but in the long run they’re getting you one way or another,” Brown says.

People who can least afford premium prices on retail goods are those most attracted to rent-to-own deals, advocates say. Credit history is a non-issue. And for very little money down, they can outfit their apartments with a washer and dryer, bedroom set, or flat screen television – items they might never be able to afford in a store.

But Tory Emery, a social worker at Upper Valley Haven in White River Junction, says stores aren’t doing enough to make sure low-income, and often financially illiterate consumers, know about the above-market prices they’re actually paying.

“People in poverty are vulnerable,” Emery says. “They’re vulnerable to seeing a shiny carrot placed in front of them that they can have what other people have.”

Senate lawmakers are considering legislation that would require rent-to-own stores to spell out more clearly for customers the all-in price of retail goods, by totaling the aggregate price of all the weekly payments that would be needed to own the item. They also want to cap the “interest rate” stores can earn on a sale. The magazine Consumer Reports found in 2011 that rent-to-own agreements feature weekly payments that can result in consumers paying the equivalent of more than 300 percent interest on retail purchases. Lawmakers think the number should be capped at 24 percent.

To view the entire article and listen to the audio coverage click here.


Get Involved in April’s Fair Housing Month Events with ONE Arts Collective!

Posted February 3, 2015

April is Fair Housing Month! During the month the ONE Arts Collective and the Fair Housing Project of CVOEO will be holding a series of events in conjunction with local artists and venues throughout Burlington. Read below to learn a bit more about the project and how you can help out:

Please join us this April in a collective effort to honor and promote the importance of fair housing and inclusive communities through a series of creative workshops, events, art exhibits and panel discussions happening throughout Burlington. ONE Arts Collective alongside the Fair Housing Project of CVOEO and in conjunction with other area artists and community organizations will launch an April creative initiative in honor of April as Fair Housing Month. There will be a calendar of events and a list of host venues. If you would like to host an exhibit, plan a discussion, a creative activity or be involved in any capacity please be in touch! There are lots of ways to be involved and we hope this will be the start of something grand in years to come!

Why April and why fair housing?
On April 11, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which was meant as a follow up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The 1968 act expanded on previous acts by prohibiting discrimination concerning the sale, rental and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, handicap and family status. When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4th, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson utilized this national tragedy to urge for the bill’s speedy Congressional approval. Since the 1966 open housing marches in Chicago, Dr. King’s name had been closely associated with the fair housing legislation. President Johnson viewed the Act as a fitting memorial to the man’s life work.

Why art, creativity and fair housing?
Art and creative expression help people connect to one another as well as to big ideas and concepts. The arts help us make meaning of our collective and individual experiences and provide us with a tool to reflect. By devoting a month of creative community experiences to the theme of Fair Housing, “we can potentially offer people of all ages, skills and abilities an opportunity to be expressive about what “home”, “inclusivity” and “diversity” means to them.” (Ted Wimpey)

“The City of Burlington and the state of Vermont have an opportunity this coming April to celebrate the history of fair housing and our own collective efforts to build inclusive communities, safe affordable homes and praise the positive contributions to our culture of diversity in its many forms. “ (Ted Wimpey)

Other participating organizations include: One Arts Center, Whirled Tree Arts, North End Studios, Burlington City Arts, New City Gallery, Radio Bean, Arts Riot. Organized collaboratively by ONE Arts Collective, the ONE Good Deed Fund, and Whirled Tree Arts. To participate, please contact Margaret Coleman at Thank you and see you in April!

Sponsorship opportunities are also available. To learn more please click here (PDF file).



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