Category Archives: Advocacy

Save the Date: January 7th – Homelessness Awareness Day and Memorial Vigil at the State House

Every year in January concerned citizens and homeless service providers from across Vermont gather at the State House in Montpelier for a day to engage their representatives and to renew their commitment to end homelessness in our state. Please join us on Thursday, January 7th for the Annual Homelessness Memorial Vigil and Awareness Day.

The day will kick off early at 8:00am in the Card Room. People will be present there all day from 8 – 3:30pm to share information, connect with their representatives, see the work being done around the state, and to be a part of the conversation on which strategies are working in reducing homelessness and which ones still need work.

At Noon community members, elected officials, and advocates will take to the State House steps for a Vigil to remember our friends and neighbors who have died without homes, and to bring awareness of the struggles of those still searching for safe and secure housing.

At 3:30pm be in the House Gallery to hear the House read a Resolution and recognize those experiencing homelessness and the work being done by homeless service providers and advocates.

Please click here for a downloadable flyer to print and distribute. Thank you all for your continued commitment to helping to end homelessness in Vermont and we look forward to seeing many of you on January 7th!

SAVE THE DATE: VHCC Legislative Day, February 12


Thursday, February 12th
State House, Montpelier

PLEASE SET ASIDE FEBRUARY 12th as a day that you and your organization’s key supporters will spend in Montpelier talking and advocating in the Legislature on the importance of Vermont Housing and Conservation Board funding for your organization and the communities it serves.

Amid ongoing State budget challenges, Governor Shumlin continues to show strong support for VHCB. He has proposed $16.1 MILLION FOR VHCB – $12.2 million from the Property Transfer Tax, $2.8 million from the Capital Budget, and $1.1 million in interest, loan repayments and other miscellaneous revenues. This represents LEVEL FUNDING and, with another $94 million budget gap, is a positive development. Yet the need for VHCB investments in housing and conservation is far greater and easily exceeds the additional $2.9 million VHCB would receive if its statutory funding formula were followed.

We need members to TURN OUT IN FORCE to support the Governor’s request and tell lawmakers how VHCB investments will benefit Vermont communities. Voices are again being raised to say that we can eliminate VHCB’s conservation funding. We need to reaffirm our core message that conservation and affordable housing are both critical economic development investments that must remain a priority for our state.

Tentative Schedule:

7:30- 9:00 – Breakfast meetings with individual legislators (breakfast sponsored by VHCC)
9:00- 10:00 – Welcome and meeting with Governor Peter Shumlin, Lt. Governor Phil Scott, Senate President John Campbell, House Speaker Shap Smith, and other legislative leaders (all invited)
10:00- 11:00 – Joint meeting of Senate Economic Development, Housing & General Affairs and House General, Housing & Military Affairs Committees
10:15-11:15 – Meeting with House Fish, Wildlife & Water Resources Committee
11:00-12:00 – Joint meeting with Senate & House Agriculture Committees
11:00- 12:00 – Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee
12:00-1:30 – Lunch, and throughout the day – Meetings with individual legislators
1:45- 2:30 – Meeting with Senate Institutions Committee
2:00 – 3:00 – Ice cream social
Time TBA – Senate Health & Welfare Committee, and the House Natural Resources, Human Services, and Institutions Committees

Additional meetings with legislative committees are in the process of being scheduled; a final agenda and detailed invitation with talking points will follow.

For further information, contact:
Erhard Mahnke at 233-2902 or
John Shullenberger at 373-2590 or
Adam Necrason at 223-9988 or

Homelessness Vigil Helps Bring Awareness to the Need for Housing as Temperatures Drop

The article below from Jessie Forand of the Burlington Free Press contains some coverage of Homelessness Vigil that took place on January 8th at the Statehouse in Montpelier. Thanks to everyone who came out to help bring awareness to those Vermonters who are still in need of housing. Also discussed are many of the issues that the homeless and homelessness providers in Vermont face during the winter months:

The area’s homeless population has faced dangerous cold amidst this week’s dropping temperatures.

While advocates held a homelessness vigil Thursday on the Statehouse steps in Montpelier, area shelters were seeing a influx of people seeking warmth.

Linda Ryan, executive director of the Samaritan House in St. Albans, said after the vigil that her shelter is currently in overflow status. While the building normally has a capacity for 10, it was lodging about 15 people.

The full-service shelter has cots, a donation from the American Red Cross, to help make sure everyone who needs a bed gets one, Ryan said. One person couldn’t be accommodated but was given a ride to a hotel for the night.

“I just can’t imagine,” Ryan said about being out on such frigid nights. She noted that her car barely started as she left the shelter Wednesday night.

Of those who eschew shelter stays, Ryan said she does not know how they survive.

The COTS Waystation in Burlington had two people they could not accommodate with beds, according to Becky Holt, the organization’s director of development and communications. She said those individuals were sleeping inside but had to do so on couches or recliners.

The Daystation, a daytime drop-in facility, hasn’t had a significant increase but guests have tended to stick around longer because of the cold, Holt said. When temperatures drop below freezing, doors an hour earlier to ensure there is no gap between the day- and nighttime shelter, she added.

A deliberative session of the Burlington Development Review Board scheduled for Thursday night was expected to examine the possibility of seasonal use of 298 College St., the former Ethan Allen Club, for a community house and overnight shelter.

The building, as reported by the Burlington Free Press in December, would serve as an overflow shelter, offering nighttime accommodations to about 35 men and women.

A public hearing on the shelter was held Tuesday at Burlington City Hall. Some people expressed concern about the idea, according to Jan Demers, executive director with the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity.

Anew Place, formerly the Burlington Emergency Shelter, has been full for months, according to Executive Director Valerie Brosseau. The shelter is unique in that it serves a longer-term population, accommodating 28 people.

Of being out in the cold, Brosseau said, “It’s not easy at all.” The act of being homeless is for many already degrading, challenging and makes them feel alone. The cold only heightens that sense of alienation, she said.

Anew Place is working to help people break out of the cycle of homelessness, working with them long after the immediate need presents itself.

Homeless advocates joined by House Speaker Shap Smith, D-Morristown, on the Statehouse steps.
Photo Credit: April Burbank/Burlington Free Press

To read the complete article click here.