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COTS Launches #172VT Campaign to Help Homeless Kids

Posted March 16, 2015

Last week COTS launched their #172VT Campaign to bring attention to the issue of child homelessness in Chittenden County and beyond. Read below to learn more:

Our #172vt campaign is an effort to bring attention to the urgent and growing needs of homeless children. The number of homeless children nationally has surged in recent years to all-time record highs. Vermont has echoed these disturbing trends. Today, one in every 30 children in the United States is homeless.

Every year, we examine the issue in our own community. We conduct a count of homeless students and toddlers in Chittenden County. These children are often the hidden and unseen face of homelessness.

This year, there were 140 school-aged children, plus 32 children under age 5. That makes 172 homeless children in our community.

We see #172vt as a call to action. A call to contact legislators about the importance of more affordable housing and a call to join us for the annual COTS Walk, to walk in solidarity with the homeless families in our towns and cities. The more #172vt is visable, the greater effect it will have in garnering support for the cause.

Let all of your friends and followers know that you think 172 homeless children in our community is unacceptable. Use the hashtag (#172vt) to join a community of people fighting against childhood homelessness. Tweet a storm! Take to Instagram! Flood Facebook! Do anything you can to get the word out about the #172vt campaign.

The rising trend in family homelessness can have dire effects on a child, but there has been little media coverage. We want to change that with #172vt.

For more information and to learn more about how you can get involved, click here. For further coverage in the local media, including a video clip from WCAX News, see the links below:

172 Students, 172 Reasons to Raise Awareness (My Champlain Valley Fox 44 & ABC 22)
COTS Encourages a Call to Action for Homeless Kids (WPTZ)
COTS: Kid Homelessness is a ‘Community Crisis’ (Burlington Free Press)
COTS Launches Campaign to Help Homeless Kids (WCAX)


Kellogg-Hubbard Library, ITVS, and VTPBS Present a Free Preview Screening of The Homestretch, March 11th

Posted March 9, 2015

On Wednesday, March 11th at 7:00PM the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier will be presenting a free preview screening of The Homestretch followed by a panel discussion and reception. The Homestretch follows three homeless teens as they fight to stay in school, graduate, and build a future, giving insight into the unique challenges that homeless youth face. Panelists for the event will be Kathleen M. Kanz, Senior Housing Analyst at the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and COTS supporter, Renée Sarao, VISTA with the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness and Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, and Calvin Smith, Director of the Vermont Coalition of Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs.

For more information, see the event flyer here or below. To read a recent story on the documentary from The Atlantic, click here. If you cannot attend but are interested in viewing the film, The Homestretch will be airing nationally on PBS stations on April 13th at 10PM.



Homeless Children On the Rise in VT Schools

Posted February 2, 2015

Below is in an excerpt of an article published in the Rutland Herald discussing the increase in homeless children throughout the state of Vermont:

While the recession is officially over, many of its effects continue to be felt in Vermont, where rates of homeless families continue to rise.

For children of homeless families, continuing their K-12 educations can be an extraordinary challenge as they sometimes face long commutes while struggling with a chaotic life outside school that can involve children bouncing from a home to a hotel, shelter or outdoors.

According to annual data collected from school districts and supervisory unions by the Agency of Education, the number of homeless children in Vermont has risen 46 percent during the past five years, from 784 in 2010 to 1,145 in 2014.

Under the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act — which guarantees education for homeless children — homelessness can be defined as living in a shelter, doubled up with another family, living in a hotel or unsheltered.

The law also counts “unaccompanied minors” — teens who have fled their homes and are staying with friends or families of friends.

“It’s been growing, not exponentially, but we get spikes,” said Mike Mulcahy, former state coordinator for homeless education for the Agency of Education and currently an interagency coordinator who works with the Department of Health and Department for Children and Families.

“When economies go down, homelessness goes up,” said Mulcahy, who also noted a spike in homeless youth following Tropical Storm Irene, when the number of homeless youth jumped from 915 in 2011 to 1,202 in 2012.

“It created a real surge in the number of students who became homeless,” Mulcahy said. “One school district went from five homeless students to 55 homeless students.”

To read the entire article click here.


Leahy, Collins Introduce Bipartisan Bill To Combat Youth Homelessness And Trafficking

Posted January 29, 2015

Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) on Tuesday reintroduced bipartisan legislation to curb youth homelessness, which affects 1.6 million teens throughout the country who are among the most likely to become victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) joined as original bill cosponsors.

Leahy noted that the winter snowstorms in the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions currently threatening the safety of thousands of Americans spotlight the importance of passing this bipartisan bill to ensure that homeless children are not left to face such challenges alone.

Leahy said: “Homelessness is on the rise for youths and young adults. Too many young people in Vermont and around the country find themselves without safe places to sleep at night. These programs, offering outreach and early intervention for runaway and homeless teens, are the last line of defense for teens in crisis. Youth homelessness also can be a pipeline to chronic homelessness, victimization, sexual exploitation and trafficking in urban and rural communities. It’s our job in Congress to do what we can to counter this tragic reality, this scandal in the shadows. I am proud to say that last year, 95 percent of teens receiving services from the Vermont Coalition for Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs were able to exit to safe living situations.”

Thirty-nine percent of the homeless population is under the age of 18, and the average age at which a teen becomes homeless is 14.7 years old. A 2013 study by the Convenant House offers startling details about the connection between youth homelessness and human trafficking. The Leahy-Collins Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act reauthorizes programs that help youth obtain housing, education and job training. The bill includes training for service providers to identify victims of trafficking, and it includes a new provision that prohibits grantees from denying services based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Leahy and Collins introduced similar legislation last year, which earned bipartisan support in the Judiciary Committee but stalled in the Senate. Leahy has long been a champion of youth services provided by the original Runaway and Homeless Youth Protection Act and fought for its reauthorization in 1998 and again in 2003. He has also worked for years to counter the tragedy of human trafficking, most recently by including a reauthorization of the bipartisan Trafficking Victims Protection Act as part of his Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act in 2013, and by supporting increased appropriations for trafficking victims under last year’s Omnibus Appropriations Bill.

Collins said: “As Chairman of the Housing Appropriations Subcommittee, one of my goals is to address chronic homelessness. We must make sure our nation’s homeless youth have the same opportunity to succeed as other youth. The programs reauthorized by this bill are critical in helping homeless youth stay off the street and find stable, sustainable housing.”

The bill is supported by the National Network for Youth, the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking, the True Colors Fund, the Center for American Progress, and the Human Rights Campaign, among many others.

A copy of the bill is available online.

At-A-Glance Facts About Youth Homelessness In Vermont:
(Data sources include the AHS Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) Vermont Annual Report – State Fiscal Year 2014)

  • The most recent one-day Point-In-Time Count of homeless Americans (January 2014) indicates that on any given night, about 1556 Vermonters are without housing.  This represents a 9.27 percent (or 144 person) increase over the previous year.  371 of those (24 percent) of those Vermonters were children under the age of 18.
  • Between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014, Vermont’s HUD-funded emergency shelters, domestic violence shelters, veterans’ shelters and youth shelters reported an increase both in the number of children and the length of stay for children under the age of 18.
  • Vermont’s effort to end family homelessness by 2020 is supported nationally by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: St. Albans Messenger – City School’s revolving door, Moving has consequences for all

Posted July 15, 2013

This article, which appeared in the St. Albans Messenger in May 2013, describes the link between students who relocate from school to school and lower academic achievement. Families that face housing insecurity tend to move with greater frequency, making it difficult for youth to establish connections within a school community.

By Michelle Monroe. Reposted from the St. Albans Messenger, May 13, 2013.

Link to Full St. Albans Messenger Article