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Webinar on Thursday: Tent Cities, Homelessness & Human Rights

Posted March 3, 2014

This Thursday, March 6 from 2:00pm – 3:00pm join the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty for the webinar Tent Cities, Homelessness & Human Rights which will feature presentations by Eric Tars of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty and Amy Sawyer of the US Interagency Council on Homelessness.

The webinar will go into detail about the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty soon to be released report, “Welcome Home: The Rise of Tent Cities in the United States,” addressing the human and civil rights implications of the growth of homeless encampments across the country.

The report, co-authored with the Yale Law School Allard K. Lowenstein Human Rights Clinic, comes as the U.S. prepares for four reviews by international human rights monitors in the coming year, and follows new steps by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness to address homelessness as a human rights issue (see It also comes on the heels of the Law Center’s annual “Human Right to Housing Report Card” (see

Come and learn about the human and civil rights issues faced by individuals experiencing homelessness, the response from the federal government, as well as the process of review by the U.N. human rights monitors and how you can make human rights real in your community.

Space is limited.

Reserve your Webinar seat now at:


Transgender Community Face Discrimination in Finding Housing, Homeless Services

Posted February 7, 2014

Transgender and gender nonconforming people, and in particular trans women of color, face among the highest rates of discrimination and violence in the country.

One in five transgender people have been refused a home or apartment, and one in ten have been evicted because of their gender identity.

Homelessness is also a critical issue for transgender people, with one in five also having experienced homelessness at some time in their lives because of discrimination and family rejection.  Nearly one in three transgender people who have experienced homelessness report being turned away from a shelter due to their transgender status.

It is estimated 20 to 40 percent of the more than 1.6 million homeless youth in the United States are of an LGBTQ background.

new report, released last week by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, offered more startling statistics:

Researchers from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law found that the risk of attempting suicide was especially severe for transgender or gender nonconforming people who had suffered discrimination or violence, such as being physically or sexually assaulted at work or school.

Among transgender people who became homeless because of bias against their gender identity, 69% said they had tried to kill themselves. Out of those who had been turned away by a doctor because they were transgender or gender-nonconforming, 60% had attempted suicide sometime in their lives, the survey found.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents who were the victims of domestic violence at the hands of a family member had attempted suicide, the study also showed. Suicide attempts were less common among transgender and gender-nonconforming people who said their family ties had remained strong after they came out.

In 2007 Vermont passed the Gender Identity Non-Discrimination bill into law.  The law explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in employment, housing, banking, public accommodations, and other services.  The law defines gender identity as “an individual’s actual or perceived gender identity, or gender-related characteristics intrinsically related to an individual’s gender or gender-identity, regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth.”

In addition, in 2010 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued guidance stating that discrimination against transgender renters or homebuyers based on gender identity or gender stereotypes constitutes sex discrimination and is prohibited under the federal Fair Housing Act.  In 2012, the new Equal Access to Housing Rule went into effect.

The National Coalition for the Homeless offers a helpful guide for shelters to assist in the prevention of discrimination.  A check-list from the guide:

  • Have you reached out to the local transgender community for guidance, training, and referrals?
  • Have you developed written policies covering issues of respect, confidentiality, housing placements, bathroom and shower policies, harassment, and topics for intake conversation?
  • Have you made any alterations to bathrooms and showers, including installing locks or doors and putting up curtains to increase the amount of privacy in your facility?
  • Have you changed your intake forms to ask “Gender:____________” followed by a statement that transgender people are respected at your shelter?
  • Have you put up a sign in your lobby that indicates that transgender people are welcome in your shelter?
  • Have you set up a training session for all staff? For shelter residents?
  • Have you integrated a training segment into the training program for all new staff?
  • Have you reviewed your referral list to ensure that the agencies are welcoming and respectful to your transgender residents you refer there?

Discrimination is illegal in Vermont.  If you want information about your civil rights or if you think you have been discriminated against contact the Vermont Human Rights Commission at 800-416-2010, ext. 25 or 802-828-1625.  More guidance on how to file a complaint here.


Put People First Candidate Forums

Posted October 11, 2012

County candidates for the state legislature will answer questions and hear from their constituents on the issues we deal with every day such as healthcare, workers’ rights, healthy environment and other important human rights issues in our communities. Put People First is a statewide grassroots initiative to build a movementfor human rights and real democracy.  These forums will be hosted by the Vermont Human Rights Council, and are part of a statewide grassroots initiative to build a movement for human rights and real democracy.

Sponsors of the forums include:
Vermont Workers’ Center, Migrant Justice, 350 Vermont, Vermont Early Educators United-AFT, United Professions of Vermont, Vermont AFL-CIO, Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals- AFT, Vermont Center for Independent Living (VCIL), Green Mountain Self Advocates, Voices for Vermont’s Children, Red Clover Climate Justice, Vermont Homecare Workers United- AFSCME, United Health Care Workers East- SEIU

Tuesday, October 9th
6:00-8:00 pm, Marlboro Graduate Center, 28 Vernon St., Brattleboro
6:00-8:00 pm, Rutland Free Library, Fox Room, 10 Court St., Rutland

Wednesday, October 10th 
6:00-8:00 pm, Montpelier High School, 5 High School Drive, Montpelier

Sunday, October 14th 
2:00-4:00 pm, Catamount Arts Center, 115 Eastern Ave., St. Johnsbury

Wednesday, October 17th
7:00-9:00 pm, Sustainability Academy at Lawrence Barnes, 123 North St., Burlington
6:00-8:00 pm, Ilsley Public Library, 75 Main St., Middlebury

Thursday, October 18th 
6:00-8:00 pm, Johnson State College (Elsworth Room), College Hill Road, Johnson

Friday, October 19th
5:30-7:30 pm, Hartford High School, 37 Highland Ave., Hartford

Wednesday, October 24th
6:00-8:00 pm, Vermont Veterans Home (Christ Room),  325 North St., Bennington
6:00-8:00 pm, Municipal Building Gym, 222 Main St., Newport

Thursday, October 25th
6:00-8:00 pm, Albert D. Lawton School, 104 Maple St., Essex Junction
6:00-8:00pm, Vermont Technical College, 124 Main St., Randolph

Tuesday, October 30th
7:00-9:00pm, BFA Performing Arts Center, 71 S. Main St., St. Albans

PDF of Put People First Informational Poster