Register Now to Attend the New England Housing Network Annual Conference on December 12th!

The New England Housing Network Annual Conference will be held on on Friday, December 12th at the Sheraton Needham in Needham, MA.  This year’s special guest speaker will be Congressman Barney Frank (Retired), Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee from 2007-2011. National advocates scheduled to be present include:

Joe Belden, Deputy Executive Director, Housing Assistance Council
Barbara Burnham, Vice President for Federal Policy, Local Initiatives Support Corporation
Linda Couch, Senior Vice President for Policy, National Low Income Housing Coalition
Chris Estes, President and CEO, National Housing Conference
Barbara Sard, Vice President for Housing Policy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Diane Yentel, Vice President of Public Policy, Enterprise Community Partners

More about the conference:

What can we expect from the Administration and Congress with respect to housing policy and funding this term? How can we use the tools we have to confront problems such as chronic homelessness? Are there innovative ways for us to think about sustainability and health and housing issues? Should we be changing the way we talk about housing needs to our national and local officials and the press? These are some of the questions we will confront at the 2014 New England Housing Network conference.

Join housing advocates, developers, housing authorities, government officials, tenants, lenders, service providers, attorneys, and many others involved in the creation, management, and preservation of affordable housing from all six New England states for a one-day conference dealing with issues critical to our region. Conference participants will hear the latest information from national and local experts, and share innovative ideas on affordable housing and community development initiatives.

Our day will include plenary sessions featuring an overview of federal budget and legislative concerns, chronic homelessness, and messaging; a lunch plenary featuring Medicaid Officials from all six New England states; a choice of a specialized workshop; and the opportunity to engage with advocates across our six state region.

To download the full conference brochure click here. To register for the conference click here. Registration deadline is November 28th and a special hotel rate for conference attendees at the Sheraton Needham has been extended to December 1st.

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

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 https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/692644519. For further information and links to past presentations click here.

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VT Winter Shelters Expect More Homeless

As winter shelters begin to open across the state of Vermont, those who organize these temporary facilities are preparing to see a rise in demand for services this year. Below is an excerpt from an article in the Rutland Herald discussing this issue. While the article focuses on services in Brattleboro, it also explains that this is expected to be a statewide concern:

The temperature may be dropping, but this town’s winter homeless shelter — the first to open in the state this season — is just one of several ready for demand to rise.

“You hear people say we have plenty of affordable housing, but we don’t have enough good-paying jobs,” says Lucie Fortier, director of the Brattleboro Area Drop In Center. “That’s why we’re anticipating our numbers, especially for women and families, will go up.”

The shelter — which made national news when hosts at the local First Baptist Church sold a Tiffany stained-glass window in 2010 to avoid closure — used to open around Thanksgiving to grant the homeless a temporary reprieve from sleeping in the woods, under bridges or along the banks of the nearby Connecticut River.

But the combination of a chillier environment and economy has prompted organizers to now open at the start of November and delay closure until as late as the end of April.

“Even though it’s the first of the month and people will get SSI (supplemental security income) checks, our numbers will be high,” Fortier says. “We are hearing about more families with children out there. It’s a major problem, and we are not going in the right direction.”

What the state calls “seasonal warming shelters” in church and community buildings are different from homeless organizations that operate year-round but can only house a small number of full-time residents. (Brattleboro’s 29-bed Morningside Shelter — the sole such permanent facility in southeastern Vermont — usually has a waiting list that equals its number of clients.)

The state doesn’t have an accurate count of winter facilities, as many open or close depending on the annual ability to find sponsors and space. But officials — reporting 1,556 homeless Vermonters in a 2014 survey, up 9.27 percent from last year — say the need for such support continues.

“If you have money in the stock market, the recovery has been pretty tangible, but if you are at a minimum-wage job or on a fixed benefit, it’s hard to see that,” says Angus Chaney, director of housing for the state Agency of Human Services and chairman of the Vermont Council on Homelessness. “The low incomes of many aren’t keeping pace with the cost of housing. When you add that with the loss of federal assistance, the combination is very bad for people on the edge.”

To read the complete article click here.