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.

Organizers of the 100,000 Homes Campaign in Burlington Come Together to Share Findings

Last night the organizers of the 100,000 Homes Campaign in Greater Burlington came together to discuss what they discovered during the 3-day registry event that took place last week with the community. An article from today’s Burlington Free Press highlighted some of the statistics found, listed below:

The survey of 210 total respondents included the following results:

• 141 people have been homeless for more than one year;

• 31 percent have visited the emergency room more than once in the last six months; 40 percent have interacted with the police in the same time period.

• About 25 percent had previously received federally subsidized housing;

• 25 percent have kidney disease, a history of hypothermia, liver disease or HIV/AIDS;

• 62 percent have some other chronic health condition;

• 60 percent have a history of substance abuse; 78 percent have problems with mental health;

• 95 people, or 45 percent, have combined psychiatric, substance abuse and chronic medical conditions, called “tri-morbidity.”

The survey also asked some reflective questions: About 46 percent of respondents said they lack daily activities, other than surviving, that bring happiness and fulfillment. Volunteers also asked what the word “home” means, and among the most common answers were “safety,” “comfort” and “warmth.”

WCAX also provided coverage, including a great video feature that you can view here or embedded below:

WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Those involved with the project hope that the information obtained can be used to help in creating more specific resources to house those who are most vulnerable, with the goal of eventually eliminating chronic homelessness in the community.

To view the complete article from the Burlington Free Press click here. To view the complete coverage from WCAX click here.