I was invited to speak at the dinner tonight at my church for the Central Vermont Community Land Trust. Unfortunately, I have had a minor medical problem (some follow-up stuff from my miscarriage that necessitated a trip to the hospital, but I’m out and home and fine now) and have been confined to my house for the remainder of the day.
But here’s what I wanted to highlight in my comments this evening, and what I hope to convey to the CVCLT and other who work with issues of poverty and housing particularly.
First, there are a bunch of people who work on issues of poverty and housing. We need to find ways to utilize one another’s skills and areas of influence. The faith community can and should be a tremendous resource (more than we are currently being utilized) for these efforts.
Second, when it comes to organization, we need to do a much better job helping people into and through the process of receiving assistance and moving toward sustainability. Too many people fall through the cracks or come to an entry point (like me!) who is under-informed about how to get them the services they need.
Third, the voices that we need to hear about this are the voices of folks who live without housing or on the verge of homelessness or inability to pay for rent/utilities. They know the ins and outs of the problem and they have ideas about what they might need. Ask those folks if we should have a homeless shelter in Montpelier. Ask those folks where affordable housing should be established and what type of units are needed. My suggestion (which I’m working on with the church eventually) is to have a dinner, monthly, that’s free to the public, where those who struggle with affording housing engage middle class folk, non-profit workers, and government/political folks in conversation about their goals and ideas about housing.