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Social justice through the power of housing has never been more important than it is right now! One way you can take action for positive change is with a donation to Downstreet in support of equitable opportunities for safe, healthy, and beautiful housing to those who have been marginalized for decades.
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A Message from Our Executive Director
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Social & Moral Determinants of Health
Spotlight on Racial Justice
Join Our Team! We're Hiring!

Downstreet Updates
Project Updates
Housing News Feed
"The more that we choose not to talk about domestic violence, the more we shy away from the issue, the more we lose."
Russell Wilson, NFL Quarterback

A Few Words from Our Executive Director

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Every October, advocates for domestic violence survivors rededicate themselves to breaking the cycle of domestic violence through a month of advocacy, education, awareness, and activism. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) initiated this tradition in 1981 through a Day of Unity to connect battered women’s advocates across the country.  In 1994, the Violence Against Women Act was passed, a landmark legislation led by Senator Joe Biden. This legislation introduced new provisions and programs to hold offenders accountable and provide access to programs and services for survivors of domestic violence. As a result, “the overall rate of domestic violence dropped nearly two-thirds, and state laws have reformed to address issues such as dating abuse in the workplace, stalking, employment discrimination and more,” according to Break the Cycle, a non-profit organization focused on prevention and intervention of domestic violence.

It is important to recognize that not all victims of domestic violence are women, although the majority are. According to the NCADV, “one in four women and one in nine men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder, use of victim services, contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, etc.” In Vermont, 33.6% of women experience some form of physical or sexual violence or stalking in their lifetimes. Even more shocking, 51% of all homicides in Vermont between 1994 and 2010 were related to domestic violence.

The latest episode of our new podcast, Community Pulse with Eileen Peltier, features guest Diane Kinney, Co-Director of Circle. Her frank conversation with Eileen provides insight into domestic violence and what community members can do to support victims and survivors of domestic violence. Check it out!
Social and Moral Determinants of Health
Do you consider yourself to be healthy? When you think about that question, your mind most likely goes to measures such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, physical fitness, and any health conditions you might or might not have. You may have even gone so far as to think about the state of your mental health. But have you considered the factors that influence those measures of health?

After decades of research, we now know that social determinants of health – things like the resources and supports available in our homes, neighborhoods, and communities; the quality of our schooling; the safety of our workplaces; the cleanliness of our water, food, and air; and the nature of our social interactions and relationships – have a huge impact on the level of our physical and mental health. According to the CDC, addressing our population's social and economic conditions is considered a principal methodology for delivering health equity.

Taking this idea a step further, another concept gaining ground is the moral determinants of health. Moral determinants of health are “what we must work on or must choose to work on if we're going to be true to [our] moral core. Our project then becomes to improve the social determinants of health that our moral determinants illuminate." Those are the words of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s president emeritus Donald Berwick, M.D., as he gave the keynote address for the 31st IHI National Forum. This concept inspires more meaningful action to improve physical, mental, social, and economic health by motivating us to address the root causes of unfavorable social and economic opportunities. Instead of slapping a bandage on issues like food insecurity or homelessness, we need systemic change and new policies to have a lasting effect on improving these social determinants of health.

To accomplish this, Dr. Berwick proposes seven specific steps: commit to human rights, push for universal coverage, combat climate change, back criminal justice reform, encourage inclusive immigration policies, tackle poverty head-on, and defend civil institutions.

When racial inequity surfaces in conversation, as it often does during this time of advocacy for racial justice, the topics discussed typically revolve around discrimination, police brutality, and disproportionate incarceration of BIPOC. But since the COVID-19 outbreak, a slew of additional inequities have surfaced. It isn’t that these inequities didn’t exist before – they have, in fact, existed throughout our country’s history – but rather that the pandemic has surfaced and highlighted these issues where they were previously hidden or ignored.

In this in-depth roundtable of affordable housing leaders, Shelterforce dives deep to help us understand how housing, racial equity, and COVID-19 intersect.
Recommended Reading

Whether your journey has just begun or you are on your way to understanding your relationship with racial justice, there are some excellent books written by Black authors that we'd like to recommend. Each has a link to purchase the book online from a Black-owned bookstore.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
Author: Michelle Alexander
Subject matter: Systemic Racism in Our Justice System

How to Be an Anti-Racist
Author: Ibram X. Kendi
Subject matter: Civil Rights, Personal Memoir, Discrimination and Race Relations

Me and White Supremacy
Author: Layla Saad
Subject matter: Discrimination and Race Relations, Prejudice and Racism, Minority Studies

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide
Author: Carol Anderson
Subject Matter: U.S. History, Race Relations, Precjudice and Racism


Downstreet Updates

For the most part, it is business as usual at Downstreet, although “usual” is not necessarily the most accurate term. We continue to operate in the COVID age with safety protocols in place for staff to keep themselves and our Downstreet family of residents and program participants safe and healthy.
With mixed emotions, we share with you the news that Mike Rama is transitioning out of his role as our Director of Advancement so that he and his wife can move closer to family in upstate New York. Mike will continue working with Downstreet through the end of the year. Mike’s contribution to Downstreet will have a lasting impact, and while we all will miss him, we wish him the best in all of his future endeavors.
In related news, we are looking to hire a Donor Relations Manager to take over the fundraising duties of Mike’s position. If you know someone who might be a good fit to join our mission-driven, hard-working, fun-loving team, please do send them our way!

NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center

Our amazing HomeOwnership team continues to process applications for the VT State Rental Rehab program, which will award up to $30,000 to a landlord to address code violations in vacant units. Downstreet, along with our local property owners, expect to bring over 30 new homes on line by year-end through this program. VPR recently covered this program on their VPR News show.


Support & Services at Home (SASH)

The ability to age in place is extremely important to most older Vermonters, but for many whose families live out-of-state or have limited capacity to help out, it requires outside support. As we know, those who have existing health issues or are over the age of 60 are at a higher risk than most for contracting COVID-19, making this an especially crucial time for programs like SASH to provide that support. Here are a few COVID-19 era SASH success stories that illustrate just how much impact SASH has on participants.

Read: SASH Success Stories during COVID-19

Project Updates


The Norwich University students continue to work on our second Tiny House, which is scheduled to move to its permanent location in Barre City on November 2nd and 3rd. Soon after placement, the site work will be completed in preparation for occupancy.

Downstreet has been collaborating with Washington County Mental Health Services and Norwich University's School of Architecture and Art to bring this pilot concept to fruition.
The capital work at Stimson & Graves has entered the final phase of construction! The boiler replacement is complete, and the exterior painting is nearly finished. Hallway work has started, and the units will be finished at the end of the month. Keep your eyes open for a COVID-conscious virtual “ribbon cutting” video that we will be putting together and sharing once the project is complete.

The team for this project includes S2 Architecture as the architect and Naylor and Breen as the construction manager.
Housing Newsfeed
A look at housing and social justice across the country.
Affordable Housing Providers Have Done Better Than Expected So Far in the Pandemic
There has been a dip in rent collections over the last several months, but not the precipitous plunge off a cliff that seemed plausible in the early days of the pandemic. However, housing providers are once again expecting the worst.
Through Oct. 31 | Home Truths: Films about Housing Rights, Displacement, and the Meaning of Home
This series of screenings comprises a selection of films that Anthology will be presenting gradually, over the course of the coming weeks and months, as well as other relevant films that are already available online from other sources.
Perspectives on the Community Land Trust
An interview with John Emmeus Davis, Line Algoed, and María E. Hernández-Torrales, editors of On Common Ground: International Perspectives on the Community Land Trust. Terra Nostra Press, 2020, 502 pp., $27.50 (Paperback). Purchase a copy here.
Friday, Nov. 6, 12:30 p.m. ET | Under One Roof: Building an Abolitionist Approach to Housing Justice Webinar
“Under One Roof: Building an Abolitionist Approach to Housing Justice,” jointly sponsored by the Journal of Legislation and Public Policy and the NYU Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, will explore what housing policy, research, and advocacy can learn from abolitionists and, in particular, the scholarship and advocacy that have shaped movements for prison and police abolition.
Donate Now
Every donation to Downstreet gives more families the opportunity to create a safe, healthy, stable home. Give a gift to Downstreet today.

Copyright © 2020 Downstreet Housing & Community Development, All rights reserved.

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