Sleep-Out by the Falls to End Homelessness 2016
Check out this video produced by United Way of Addison County:
Join us on December 3 for the Addison County Vigil and Sleep-Out to End Homelessness
It’s getting cold outside! And hundreds of Vermonters have no place to call home. No place to cook a meal, get warm, take a shower, or do homework. No place where they feel safe and secure.
As a state, we have made tremendous progress in ending homelessness. The number of homeless individuals dropped by 29% from January 2014 to January 2016. And yet still, well over a thousand Vermonters will live outside or in emergency shelter this winter.
With your help, we can provide food, shelter, and hope to transform the lives of our neighbors.
At Economic Odds
The fair market rent of a two-bedroom apartment in Addison County is $946. If we assume that housing accounts for 30% of a family's monthly income, a household would have to make $3153 per month, or $37,840 per year just to stay affloat.
Most of the parents at the Shelter work at stores, gas stations, restaurants, farms or at entry level manufacturing jobs. Even working full-time, low wages mean that they just can’t keep up with rising rents.
Shortage of Affordable Housing
The rental vacancy rate is a meager 1% in some areas of Vermont, while the nationwide average hovers around 7%, which means the market is far from healthy. Demand has outstripped supply, and landlords have the freedom to raise their rates. The lower the income threshold, the greater the shortage of affordable and available units. For every 100 low-income households in Vermont, there are only 53 affordable rental units available!
Opioid Dependence Epidemic and the Mental Health System
Opioid addiction in Vermont increased by 770% between 2000 and 2014, and deaths attributed to overdose followed the same trajectory. Alleged child abuse or neglect cases filed in courts across Vermont also climbed, which experts link to the epidemic. However, the state has made progress in combatting the disease. In the past couple years, 65% more Vermonters are getting treatment.
Addiction is being decriminalized, allowing people to get treatment instead of languishing in jail. The issue is being treated as a mental health diagnosis rather than a sign of moral deprevation, reducing stigma for survivors and increasing political will to enact proactive policy. Rescue kits are also being deployed to save lives.
The general shortage of mental health facilities, both in Vermont and around the country, has left many citizens underserved and further vulnerable to ending up on the streets.
The Effect of Homelessness on Children
According to data from the Vermont Department of Children and Families, 857 children spent time in Vermont emergency shelters last fiscal year. That accounts for more than one in five of the total population served.
Homelessness is especially traumatic for children and can have serious repercussions on their development. By the numbers, homeless children have far different outcomes than their peers with regards to education, economic opportunity, mental health, and more.
As mentionned above, progress has been made towards our goal of ending homelessness, but there is still so much work to be done. Credit is due at all levels of community. At the local level, our partners provide a diverse array of essential services to low-income Vermonters. At the governmental level, federally-funded housing voucher programs like Housing Choice and Shelter Plus Care, as well as state-funded programs like the Vermont Rental Subsidy, have helped providers like John Graham assist residents in renting apartments.
John Graham has long advocated for equitable, family-friendly policy, and state officials have heeded our call. Last spring, Governor Shumlin took the advice of his Council on Pathways From Poverty and signed into action an Executive Order mandating that 15% of publicly-funded housing go to formerly-homeless families. That kind of proactive approach is exactly what the most vulnerable Vermonters need.
At John Graham Housing and Services, we provide:
Emergency food and shelter,
Service supported housing,
Prevention and intervention for people in crisis.
Last year we helped more than 200 people with housing and services.
With our five buildings and service-rich environment, we can help all different types of people -- working families with children, individuals, veterans, those with mental, physical, or developmental disabilities, and survivors seeking lives free from violence or addiction.
Three Ways to Help:
1. Join us at the Candlelight Vigil on the Middlebury Green to build awareness. We'll gather on December 3rd at 4 PM. You may bring a bag of food, a box of diapers, toiletries, hygiene products, cleaning supplies, or a new quilt or set of sheets for a family moving into a home.
2. Sleep out by the Otter Creek Falls to raise support for homeless neighbors. We’ll pitch our tents or makeshift shelters at the Marble Works and spend just one night enduring the cold, anxiety and uncertainty that some of our neighbors live with each day. Individuals or teams from schools, employers, churches and civic organizations are most welcome!
3. Sponsor an individual or team with a generous donation to the Shelter.
Every dollar raised goes directly to families and individuals to help with food, shelter, mental health counseling, supportive housing, down payments, utility assistance, or whatever it takes to transition to stable housing.
We thank you for your support and hope to see you there!