Forum to discuss multiple dimensions of homelessness in Vt.

BRATTLEBORO-The Commons invites the community to a panel discussion about Vermont's homelessness crisis and how it affects us all.

Systemic problems (like lack of affordable housing, low wages, and cost of labor) and personal circumstances (like life-altering events) can cause anyone to become homeless. The discussion will center around a better understanding of what it means to be unhoused and how as a community we can come together to make change.

The event, part of the newspaper's Voices Live! forum series, will take place in person at the Brooks Memorial Library on Wednesday, April 24 at 6:30 p.m. and will also be livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook via Brattleboro Community Television.

Portions of the conversation will be adapted for publication in the newspaper's Voices section.

The panel is set to include Michael Pieciak, Vermont state treasurer; Anne N. Sosin, public health researcher and practitioner at Dartmouth College; Elizabeth Bridgewater, executive director, Windham & Windsor Housing Trust; Josh Davis, executive director, SEVCA; Libby Bennett, executive director, Groundworks Collaborative; and Chloe Learey, executive director, Winston Prouty Center.

Organizers of the forum anticipate including one or more participants who are currently experiencing homelessness.

Joyce Marcel, a reporter and columnist for The Commons and Vermont Business Magazine, will moderate the discussion, which will focus on realistic approaches to addressing homelessness and poverty in Windham County.

The rate of homelessness in Vermont remains second highest per capita in the U.S., according to the 2023 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in mid-December. The report estimated that 3,295 people, or 51 out of every 10,000 Vermonters, were unhoused at the time of the count.

In addition, HUD has also reported that Vermont had the greatest percentage increase in homelessness in the country between 2007 and 2023, at 218%.

Vermont also experienced the largest percentage increase in experiences of family homelessness since the pandemic began, increasing by 213% (794 more people) since 2020.

Meanwhile, the number of building permits issued each year in Vermont has stagnated at about 2,300 homes.

Vermont Independent Media's goal for Voices Live community discussions is to help the community come together to facilitate change for the better.

"All events are designed to be a respectful, collaborative approach to find solutions following VIM's belief that a vibrant democracy requires an informed, empowered, and outspoken citizenry," says Lynn Barrett, president of the board of directors of Vermont Independent Media, the nonprofit organization that publishes The Commons.

For more information, contact Executive Director Kate O'Connor at 802-246-6397 or [email protected].

This News item was submitted to The Commons.

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