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HOP 2017 Summary of Awards Released

Posted July 27, 2016

The summary of Housing Opportunity Program 2017 awards is now available on the Office of Economic Opportunity’s website:

The detailed summary includes a listing of all grantees & award amounts, a description of services provided, a chart showing how funds were allocated across the different strategies, and performance measurement standards. The Office of Economic Opportunity awarded over $5.9 million to 39 different agencies for State Fiscal Year 2017. This is an increase of more than $1.2 million over last year, due to investments of General Assistance (GA) funds from the Economic Services Division to create new community-based alternatives that decrease reliance on GA motels.

The Housing Opportunity Grant Program provides funding to operate emergency overnight and day shelter; provide essential services to shelter guests; provide transitional housing where appropriate; rapidly re-house homeless individuals and families; prevent individuals and families experiencing a housing crisis from becoming homeless; implement coordinated entry to streamline client access to resources; and administer the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS).  The Housing Opportunity Grant Program operates within the Opening Doors, Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness and the Vermont Plan to End Homelessness.  The primary goals of the Housing Opportunity Grant Program are to

  • Decrease the number of individuals and families experiencing homelessness;
  • Shorten the length of time people experience homelessness;
  • Reduce the number of individuals and families returning to homelessness; and
  • Prevent people from becoming homeless.

Congratulations to each of these organizations on the amazing work they do each day to prevent and end homelessness!


Job Opportunity: Office of Economic Opportunity Community Services Program Administrator

Posted September 24, 2015

The Vermont Office of Economic Opportunity seeks a skilled and knowledgeable program administrator to work with community action agencies, homeless shelter/service providers, and the homeless Continuums of Care to identify and promote effective practices through partnership, grants management, training and technical assistance.  The Office of Economic Opportunity is a division of the Department for Children and Families and based in Essex Junction.  Office location is anticipated to move to Waterbury in Spring 2016.

General Job Description
Coordinating, policy, advisory, and technical work for the State Office of Economic Opportunity involving development, monitoring and evaluation of multi-source funded community service projects implemented through local community organizations with a focus on ameliorating the effects of poverty. Employees may train and supervise area coordinators in project development and operation. Work is performed under the general direction of an administrative superior. All employees of the Agency of Human Services perform their respective functions adhering to four key practices: customer service, holistic service, strengths-based relationships and results orientation.

To read the full job specification for this position, please visit the DHR Job Specifications page.

Application Deadline10/08/2015

If you would like more information about this position, please contact Sarah Phillips at

Resumes will not be accepted via e-mail.  You must apply online to be considered


OEO Awards Housing & Opportunity Grants 10 40 Non-Profits

Posted July 2, 2015

The Vermont Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) — part of the Department for Children and Families (DCF) — announced today that more than $4.6 million in federal and state funding was awarded to 40 non-profits across Vermont through the Housing & Opportunity Grant Program.

These funds will be used to:

  • Provide emergency shelter and services;
  • Operate transitional housing;
  • Rapidly re-house homeless families and individuals into permanent housing; and
  • Prevent individuals and families from becoming homeless.

“There are many dedicated programs and talented individuals working in our communities to make sure everyone has a safe place to sleep and can find permanent housing,” said Agency of Human Services Secretary Hal Cohen. “The Agency of Human Services, Department for Children and Families, and Office of Economic Opportunity will continue working with our community partners to provide a seamless ‘continuum of care’ to Vermonters who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.”

In this year’s granting process, a new emphasis was placed on strategies that have had proven results in communities across the nation. Collectively, the grantees will provide:

  • Year-round and seasonal emergency shelter;
  • Services and safety for victims fleeing violence;
  • Financial and rental support for those experiencing a housing crisis;
  • Landlord-tenant mediation;
  • Tenant education and support; and
  • Transitional living programs for youth.

OEO works in close partnership with the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness and the Chittenden Homeless Alliance to ensure state and federal resources are targeted to have the strongest collective impact. Last year’s grantees served more than 10,000 Vermonters in every area of the state.

“Many would agree that we need more housing in Vermont,” said DCF Commissioner Ken Schatz. “Our challenge is to provide a strong safety net, clear the pathway to housing, and connect individuals and families with the supports they need to keep their housing. The Housing & Opportunity Grant Program provides our communities with resources to do just that.”

For more information about the work of the Vermont Office of Economic Opportunity, go to

For the full summary of awards click here.


The Unique Challenges Facing Vermont’s Homeless Population

Posted March 18, 2015

Yesterday VPR spoke with Paul Dragon, director of the Vermont Office of Economic Opportunity, to discuss some of the challenges that arise for those who face homelessness in a rural state like Vermont. Barriers such as limited transportation options, low housing availability, and extremely cold winters add extra challenges for the homeless and those who are working to help them. Read some of the information he provided below and for the full report, including audio, click here:

On the numbers

“There were 1,556 people in Vermont who were unsheltered, in emergency shelter or in transitional housing on the night of Jan. 28, 2014 … We know that about 24 percent, or 371 were children, and we also know that many of them have disabilities and many are victims of domestic violence as well.”

On uniquely rural challenges

“Transportation, access to good, quality, affordable child care, access to employment and then of course housing that is suitable to people, and housing that is available and affordable as well — all those things are magnified when you have people living in rural areas, and you don’t have that kind of transportation hub, and you don’t have the employment opportunities.”

On what’s being done

“We’ve got an incredible network of services working to put people into permanent housing, transitional housing and, of course, our emergency shelter system. And we’ve got service providers who are doing a range of work from service coordination and case management to mental health counseling and substance abuse work. We have a great program called Family Supportive Housing where we take families who are experiencing homelessness, put them in permanent housing and then provide really intensive support services, and that includes some financial empowerment services. We’re actually helping people create savings accounts and teaching them how to manage their money.”

On the Housing First approach

“It’s hard to work on many of the other issues, particularly finding employment or getting someone’s diabetes or hypertension under check, or getting them to counseling for substance or mental health, if they don’t have a home … So that is a big component of Housing First. Let’s get people stabilized, get them in a home, and then we can work on these other issues.”

On stigma versus systemic problems

“I don’t necessarily want to suggest that people who are experiencing homelessness have all these mental health, substance abuse and domestic violence issues, although those things are there. But again, it’s a function of the economy. There are low wages, people are living in poverty, housing is extremely expensive and the cost of living is extremely expensive. So those are the systemic issues that we have to go after as well, not just thinking in terms of the systems.”

On the effort to move people out of “homeless hotels”

“You know as I, we’re working hard and trying to get people out of the hotels for a couple of different reasons. Hotels are a more expensive option, and we also don’t think they’re the best service option either. You know, it’s beyond just keeping [people] warm. It’s also trying to get them into permanent housing, get them stable so we can really work on the other issues that keep them from being housed in the first place.”

Along with this story, VPR also profiled the John Graham Shelter in Vergennes and the efforts they are making to help end homelessness in their community. To read more about them and the work they are doing click here.


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.


Join OEO for Shining a Light on Poverty Series #11 on November 20th

Posted November 6, 2014

On November 20th from 12:00PM – 1:00PM the Vermont Office of Economic Opportunity will continue on with their year-long series of discussions about poverty. For this month, the theme of the discussion is titled “Behavioral Economics & Poverty” and features guest speakers Matthew Darling, senior associate and behavioral design expert at ideas42, a behavioral design lab in New York City that applies cutting-edge behavioral insights to solving complex social problems & Dan Connolly, an associate at ideas42. The description is as follows:

This webinar will give participants a better understanding of how to use behavioral economics to design for humans, which has important implications for the programs and policies that support low-income families. Behavioral economics is the study of how people make choices in the textured and rich reality of daily life, drawing on insights from both psychology and economics. In contrast to a pure economic view of people as perfectly rational agents, behavioral economics reminds us that we are all human: we use shortcuts, we are busy, and we don’t always make the best decisions. Such behavior is not anomalous, but a systematic feature of the way we make decisions. In addition to introducing participants to behavioral economics, we will explore breakthrough research revealing how scarcity—of money, time and other important resources—taxes our ability to make decisions, pay attention and exert self-control.

Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now at For further information and links to past presentations click here.



Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) Vermont Annual Report – State Fiscal Year 2014

Posted September 9, 2014

The 2014 Year End Report for the Emergency Solutions Grant program is now available. Vermont’s Emergency Solutions Grants program, administered by the Vermont State Office of Economic Opportunity, provides a blend of state and federal (HUD) funding to support operations, staffing and homelessness prevention and re-housing assistance at approximately 40 non-profit emergency shelter, transitional housing and prevention programs serving all regions of the state. The State Office of Economic Opportunity works in close partnership with both HUD-recognized Homeless Continua of Care – Chittenden and the Balance of State (i.e., Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition) – to consult on performance measurement, data management and developing coordinated entry and assessment systems within both systems of care. The chart below shows a breakdown of the percentage of this funding used for each program component:



Approximately $1.6 million in state and federal funding was awarded under the Emergency Solutions Grant program. Just over half of funds supported direct service staff, such as case managers or housing counselors. Approximately one-third of funds supported basic shelter operations, such as utilities, rent, building insurance, shelter supplies or basic maintenance. The remaining funds (approximately $300,000) provided client financial or rental assistance such as security deposit, rental or utility arrearages, or short-term rental assistance.

To view the full report, including details on the population served and analysis of performance, click here (PDF file).


Join OEO for Shining a Light on Poverty Series #8 with Anthony Poore on August 28th

Posted August 18, 2014

On August 28th from 10:00AM – 11:00AM the Vermont Office of Economic Opportunity will continue on with their year-long series of discussions about poverty.  For this month the theme of the discussion is titled “Universal Children’s Savings Accounts: New England Takes the Lead” and features guest speaker Anthony Poore from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.  Powerful research shows that savings accounts can impact the lives of low income children in many ways such as:

  • Savings is shown to provide low income children opportunities for economic mobility.
  • Savings increases expectations for the future — Savings = Aspirations in tangible form.
  • Children can build meaningful savings while learning about money and finance.
  • Children’s savings turn aspirations into achievement – there is a clear link between savings and college success:

If you are interested in hearing Anthony talk more about the case for universal children’s savings accounts and the work that is happening in New England (and Vermont!) there are two ways to join this OEO discussion:

  • Online: Register here to reserve a spot in the webinar.  Capacity is limited. You’ll get a confirmation email with further instructions.
  • In Person: DVHA Small Conference Room, 312 Hurricane Lane, Williston. No need to register. Just show up!

To learn more about the event and speaker Anthony Poore visit the official website for the series here.  This website also includes access to PowerPoint presentations of the first seven installments of the series.  More information on the benefits of children’s savings accounts can be found here, here, and here (PDF file).


OEO’s Shining a Light on Poverty Series: Discussion on Building Financial Security for Your Clients

Posted July 10, 2014

In honor of 50 years of community action in Vermont, the Office of Economic Opportunity is hosting a series of one-hour discussions on poverty every month in 2014.  The seventh of these discussions will feature Kori Hattemer, Program Manager for the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED).

The focus of this month’s discussion will be on how to better build financial security for clients.  Kori Hattemer is one of the leads at CFED working on the national front to support integration of financial capability working into social services, including homeless and housing programs.

The discussion will take place on Thursday, July 31 at Noon.  Mark your calendars!  Check OEO’s website soon for how to participate online.

To learn more about this event, and about past discussions from the Shining a Light on Poverty Discussion series, click here.


OEO’s Shining a Light on Poverty Series Continues on June 26 with Marissa Parisi

Posted June 18, 2014

In honor of 50 years of community action in Vermont, the Office of Economic Opportunity is hosting a series of one-hour discussions on poverty every month in 2014.  The sixth of these discussions will feature Marissa Parisi, Executive Director, Hunger Free Vermont, and will take place on Thursday, June 26 from 10am to 11am.

Reserve your Webinar seat now here.  Space is limited!  More about the event from OEO:

Topic: Ending the Injustice of Hunger and Malnutrition in Vermont with Marissa Parisi of Hunger Free Vermont 

Description: Do you believe we can end hunger in Vermont and in our country?  The mission of Hunger Free Vermont is to end the injustice of hunger and malnutrition for all Vermonters.  Hunger Free Vermont has a plan to end hunger in our lifetimes by addressing the root causes of the problem.  Join Marissa Parisi, Executive Director of Hunger Free Vermont to learn about their work and how they have helped Vermont lead the way in ending hunger in the US.  In particular, she will explain why Hunger Free Vermont is working towards creating a universal meals model in all of Vermont’s schools as a key strategy to end childhood hunger.

Marissa is the Executive Director of Hunger Free Vermont, a national leader on outreach, advocacy, and education on ending hunger and malnutrition.  Since joining the organization in 2009, Marissa has grown Hunger Free Vermont to include outreach on senior nutrition, increased nutrition education programming, and expansion of the Hunger Councils to five counties in Vermont.  She has a Master of Science Degree in Human Services from Springfield College and recently completed the Senior Leaders Program at Columbia Business School.  She is a member of the Governor’s Council on Pathways From Poverty, chair of the Vermont Women’s Fund Council, and on the Corporator Board at Northfield Savings Bank.

Register now!


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