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Job Opportunity: Mobile Home Program Resident Organizer at CVOEO

Posted February 5, 2016

The Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity / Mobile Home Program seeks an experienced, energetic, and committed individual with a high degree of initiative to join our team.

We are looking for a motivated, problem-solver to provide education and outreach to residents of Vermont’s mobile home parks. Our ideal candidate will have good communication and facilitation skills and be able to keep a working knowledge of related statutes and regulations. Job responsibilities include: providing direct service to residents including individual advocacy, identifying resources and solutions to improve or maintain housing conditions; conducting emergency preparedness outreach, facilitating emergency exercises, data entry, provide trainings and technical support for resident associations and resident-owned cooperatives and assisting the program director with managing multiple projects as needed.

Successful applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree in appropriate discipline or a combination of education and experience that provides equivalent skills and abilities. Relevant experience in one or more of the following areas: housing counseling, low income advocacy, code enforcement, emergency planning, community organizing and education, or cooperative development is desired. A good driving record and access to a private vehicle is necessary.

This is a 40 hour / week position with excellent benefits. To learn more about this position, please visit www.cvoeo.org. To apply, please send a cover letter and resume to: resident2016@cvoeo.org. Review of applications begins immediately and will continue until suitable candidates are found.

 



Subscribe to the “Thriving Communities: Building a Vibrant Inclusive Vermont” Newsfeed

Posted November 6, 2015

The “Thriving Communities: Building a Vibrant Inclusive Vermont” now has an email based newsfeed! If you haven’t done so already you can sign up here to receive the newsletter, which is sent out to subscribers only one time daily if any new items have been posted that day.

Posts on thriving communities, inclusive communities, housing affordability, fair housing and many other housing issues are made regularly. This blog e-newsletter feed is free. You will be able to easily “unsubscribe” at any time if you wish. Subscribing will not get you on any mail lists other than the blog e-newsletter feed list itself.

To view the recent posts to the blog, click here.

 



“Building a Vibrant, Inclusive Vermont” Webinar – Friday, September, 18th

Posted September 15, 2015

The Thriving Communities campaign will be hosting a webinar titled “Building a Vibrant, Inclusive Vermont” on Friday, September 18th:

On behalf of the statewide “Thriving Communities” campaign and the Fair Housing Project of the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity, I am pleased to invite you to this live webinar and discussion about building inclusive and economically vibrant communities in Vermont.

This webinar will offer usable perspectives on providing housing choices, transportation options, and employment opportunities for a range of people at different levels of income; and on building economically vibrant, inclusive communities in Vermont.

Thriving communities welcome a mix of people, regardless of race or ethnicity, and they embrace diversity. These communities include younger and older people, people with different abilities and people with children, families with rising incomes and families on fixed incomes. They promote a mix of land uses and building types, creating opportunities for economic growth, essential services, stable businesses, agriculture, and tourism.

We hope to engage both policymakers and interested citizens in this discussion concerning the future potential of your towns and neighborhoods.

To join “Building a Vibrant, Inclusive Vermont” please register for the webinar to be held on September 18, 2015 2:00 PM EDT here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

 



Save the Date: “Home Sweet Housing Co-op: Affordability, Community, and Self-Determination” – Saturday, October 3rd

Posted September 11, 2015

Save the Date and Prepare to Be Intrigued! “Home Sweet Housing Co-op: Affordability, Community, and Self-Determination”

On Saturday, October 3rd, from 3 to 5pm, come learn about housing cooperatives in Burlington, around the state, and in Montreal.

To celebrate National Cooperatives Month and foster Burlington’s discussion of housing needs, Champlain Housing Trust and the Mobile Home Program of CVOEO will present this public forum, held at Contois Auditorium in Burlington’s City Hall.

Housing co-ops offer the control and security of owning, without the financial challenge of getting a mortgage. Like other co-op businesses, housing co-ops are owned and democratically run by their members. They have run successfully in Burlington for over 20 years and in Montreal for over 30.

Speakers will include member-owners of apartment co-ops in Burlington; mobile home co-ops in Chittenden County, and housing co-ops in Montreal.

Note: We hope to also offer an information fair about all kinds of co-ops – from grocery co-ops and credit unions to brewing co-ops, utility co-ops, worker co-ops and more – in the Contois lobby before the forum.

 



Progress for More Housing Choices

Posted July 23, 2015

Ted Wimpey, director of the Fair Housing Project of the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity and Chair of the VAHC, recently wrote this opinion piece published in the Times Argus that discusses the Fair Housing Act and the new statewide initiative, “Thriving Communities: Building a vibrant, inclusive Vermont”:

Seldom does the unveiling of a seemingly obscure federal regulation become a big news event.

That’s what happened Wednesday, July 8, however, when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released its long-awaited rule on “affirmatively furthering fair housing.”

The rule won cheers from fair housing advocates — including me — who believe it could be a major step forward in expanding housing opportunity for millions of Americans. And it meets jeers from anti-“big” government skeptics who see it as an example of egregious federal overreach.

The skeptics have it wrong, but before I explain why, some background:

The phrase “affirmatively furthering fair housing” — a tongue-twister, admittedly — has its origin in a landmark piece of civil rights legislation, the Fair Housing Act of 1968. That law essentially declared that Americans have a right to choose where they live without being discriminated against based on several criteria including race, color and national origin.

The Fair Housing Act and its amendments made it illegal, among other things, to refuse to rent or sell real estate to someone because of race, national origin or disability, among other “protected classes.” But the law, passed by Congress soon after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King and in the face of widespread racial segregation and social unrest, went beyond banning discrimination.

It also sought to desegregate neighborhoods and to promote development of more inclusive communities, so that people with a wide range of incomes and backgrounds would have opportunities to live in optimal-opportunity areas with access to good jobs, good schools and other quality goods and services.

Alas, the vision of fully expanding opportunity and breaking up concentrations of poverty has hardly been fulfilled. Nearly a half-century after the act’s passage, residential segregation by race remains pervasive in major metropolitan areas across the country; and economic inequality, reflected in residential demographic patterns, continues to widen.

Reversing these trends, and proactively opening up housing choices for people in protected classes, is what HUD’s rule is all about. That was the intent of the act’s primary sponsors, back in the Civil Rights era, so this is by no means a “new” federal policy priority.

What’s new is that the lofty old legislative phrase, “affirmatively furthering fair housing,” has been given an operational meaning in service of the act’s equal-opportunity ideal — an ideal that most Americans embrace.

In particular, the rule provides guidance to states, counties and municipalities that receive federal development funds on how to meet their fair housing obligations by identifying and overcoming historic barriers to equal housing opportunity. Making sure that federal tax dollars are used to protect fair housing rights and to expand opportunity — rather than to perpetuate pockets of segregation or poverty — hardly qualifies as “overreach.” It’s a matter of implementing longstanding principles of fairness. It’s also a matter of holding recipients of federal grants accountable to the values embodied in the Fair Housing Act.

Vermont benefits from various forms of federal assistance including that aimed at adding to the affordable housing stock. The continuing shortage of affordable housing has been critical for years, and remains so. More than half of Vermont’s renters are paying more of their income for total housing cost than they can be reasonably expected to afford, and home ownership remains out of reach for many people.

What does affirmatively furthering fair housing mean in Vermont? At a minimum it means maintaining vigilance regarding most blatant housing discrimination, as our predominantly white state welcomes increasing numbers of refugees and other people of color. Moreover, Vermont’s own fair housing law goes beyond the federal act in extending protection to people for their sexual orientation or receipt of public assistance.

But it also means recognizing, and overcoming, more subtle systemic barriers to fair and affordable housing choice. Where planning and zoning regulations effectively preclude the development of affordable and mixed income housing in high-opportunity areas near town centers, for example, communities need to consider how they can revise policies to make them more inclusive. After all, communities thrive when they welcome a wide variety of residents, with assorted skills and backgrounds, who can drive the local economy and enliven the local culture.

That’s the premise of a new statewide initiative, “Thriving Communities: Building a vibrant, inclusive Vermont.” (For more information, go to the website, thrivingcommunitiesvt.org) The aim is to promote the development of affordable housing, especially in mixed-income areas near town centers with ready access to transit and quality services — in other words, to “affirmatively further fair housing” in a Vermont way and make communities thrive for us all.

 



CCTV: Tenant Organization for Better Housing

Posted April 15, 2015

Host Shelagh Cooley recently spoke with with Michelle Sayles, our VAHC Resident Organizer, and Sarah Woodward from the CVOEO Mobile Home Program on the importance and methods for organizing residents/tenants. To view the program click here or see the embedded video below. This program will also re-air Monday, April 20th at 4:30 and Monday, April 27th at 4:30 on CCTV.

 



Celebrate Fair Housing

Posted April 7, 2015

April is Fair Housing Month. In this opinion piece published by the Burlington Free Press Ted Wimpey, Director of CVOEO’s Fair Housing Project and Chair of the VAHC Steering Committee, writes about why we should celebrate the Fair Housing Act:

Selma and other triumphs of the Civil Rights Movement have rightly captured public attention, but April marks a singular anniversary from that era that also has special significance — both nationally and in Vermont.

In April 1968, one week after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Congress passed the Fair Housing Act. The Act was a legislative landmark that became part of King’s legacy, culminating his longstanding campaign against housing discrimination. “April is Fair Housing Month” thus became an annual commemoration, and in the Burlington area this year, the occasion for a unique series of workshops, art exhibits and panel discussions.

So, what is it, exactly, that’s being commemorated?

The federal act and subsequent amendments made it illegal, among other things, to refuse to rent, sell or broker a house or apartment to people because of their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or family status. An example of the last category would be refusal to rent to someone because he or she has children.

Vermont went further. To the seven “protected categories” under the federal law, the Vermont Legislature added five more: age, marital status, receipt of public assistance (such as a Section 8 voucher), sexual orientation and gender identity. So in Vermont, it’s illegal to treat a housing applicant differently because that person is gay, or old, or transsexual.

In our state, where cases of housing discrimination are investigated by the Vermont Human Rights Commission or by Vermont Legal Aid, the largest share of complaints in recent years has come under the category of “disability.” The act calls for housing providers to provide “reasonable accommodations” or “reasonable modifications” for those with disabilities.

If complaints of racial or religious discrimination are relatively few in Vermont, a state that’s about 95 percent white, that’s not because bias does not exist in housing decisions here. Periodic testing has shown that African Americans, for example, or Muslims, are substantially more likely to receive disparate treatment when they try to rent an apartment. The continuing influx to Vermont of refugees — people of color, people of wide-ranging national origins and religions — should only enhance the housing industry’s awareness and sensitivity to the mandates of federal and state fair housing laws.

Lofty public policies don’t always jibe with reality, however. Forty-seven years after the federal enactment, many of this country’s major metropolitan areas remain highly segregated by race. This flies in the face of the ideal that Americans should have a choice in where to live and not be confined to, or steered toward, under-served or substandard neighborhoods.

In Vermont — where housing costs are high, wages are low, and affordable housing is in desperately short supply — the reality is that lower-income people often face limited housing options with unbearable expense. Nearly one-fourth of Vermont’s renters pay half their income on rent and utilities, and many live in car-dependent places where they have to shell out more money just to get to work or the grocery store.

This is not the reality envisioned by Dr. King or the framers of the Fair Housing Act. In fact, the Fair Housing Act is not just about banning discrimination. It’s also about promoting integration. The key idea is that entire communities benefit when all kinds of people have an opportunity to live in fairly close proximity to public services and to each other, and that disadvantaged people who live in an inclusive community enjoy improved prospects for health, education and work.

Vermont’s character would seem to favor an ideal of socioeconomic inclusiveness. This is a state, after all, which values a town-meeting tradition that draws everybody into communal decision-making, a state that looks askance at gated communities. And in fact, the Vermont Legislature took a stand for that ideal in 2012, when it added “income” to the state’s protected classes for real-estate development. Now it is unlawful for anyone “to discriminate in land use decisions or in the permitting of housing” because of income.

Over the past several years, Burlington engaged in an extensive dialogue about socioeconomic diversity in its public school enrollment. Burlington and other towns across the state might well benefit from similar conversations about socioeconomic diversity in residential housing patterns.

That’s the kind of conversation that the April series of events in Burlington is designed to encourage. The series is titled “HeART & Home: Celebrating Inclusive Neighborhoods for Fair Housing Month,” and features an array of art exhibits, workshops and panel discussions.

This is a prime example of art and creative expression serving the cause of social justice.

For a link to the full article, click here.

 



April Fair Housing Month Events

Posted March 30, 2015

On April 1st, one of several events for April is Fair Housing Month will be taking place. Inside of Burlington’s City Hall, 148 Church St., just outside of the Contois auditorium entrance, from 5:00pm – 7:00pm, the following activities are scheduled:

  • The Mayor of Burlington, and Burlington City Council President, Joan Shannon, will deliver proclamations of this April, as Fair Housing Month for Burlington, Vermont.
  • Jazz a cappella songs will be performed by the Calloway Taxi singers;
  • An art exhibit in the City Hall Gallery will be opening: “A PLACE CALLED HOME.” The exhibition features the work of four women artists – Anne Cummings, Winnie Looby, Lyna Lou Nordstrom, and Deborah Sharpe-Lunstead, each demonstrating a different perspective of what home means through their creative process.

Many other projects related to Fair Housing Month will be taking place during the month across Burlington & Winooski. The hope is that this will become an annual event that will expand beyond Chittenden County! For the most up-to-date information on events see the HeArt & Home Facebook Page here. For more information on CVOEO’s Fair Housing Project click here.

HeArt&Home

 



Warming Shelter Opens in Burlington

Posted February 18, 2015

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 myChamplainValley.com 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.

 



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 oneartscollective@gmail.com. Thank you and see you in April!

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

FHP

 



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