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With all that's going on in the world,
do you feel the need to take action to help?


Social justice through the power of housing has never been more important. Between the pandemic and the rising up of a nation against systemic racism, we are living through history. By making a donation to Downstreet during these difficult times, you are supporting equitable opportunities for safe, healthy, and beautiful housing to those who have been marginalized for decades.
 
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IN THIS ISSUE:
A Message from Our Executive Director
HUD's Anti-Trans Shelter Rule
Help Prevent Evictions
New Projects to House the Homeless
Attention Landlords! Grant Money Available!
We're Hiring: Senior Accountant
Commercial Space for Rent
Spotlight on Social Responsibility

Project Updates
#MasksOnVT
"Home is a notion that only nations of the homeless fully appreciate and only the uprooted comprehend."
 
Wallace Stegner
from his novel "Angle of Repose"

A Few Words from Our Executive Director

New Projects in Barre & Bradford
to House the Homeless

Addressing the issue of homelessness has always been a priority for us at Downstreet, and the COVID-19 outbreak has only strengthened our resolve to find new solutions to help house those who have no place to call home. At the moment we have two new projects to share with you – one in Barre and one in Bradford – that will directly impact homeless individuals and families during the pandemic and beyond.
 

GOOD SAMARITAN HAVEN

Our friends at the Good Samaritan Haven (Good Sam) operate Central Vermont’s only emergency shelters for homeless individuals – a crucial service for our communities. But when the novel coronavirus arrived in Vermont this March, their shelters were forced to close. Good Sam moved all of their guests to area motels in order to provide them with a safe and healthy place to live during COVID-19, and to allow them to physically distance from others.
 
Of course, the use of these motels was temporary, and now, with funding dried up and the virus still looming, those who have been sheltering there are in need of someplace to go. But before Good Sam can re-open and invite their guests back, their shelters need upgrades in order to reduce health risks and to meet new CDC guidelines for congregate housing during the pandemic.
 
After consulting closely with the Vermont Department of Health to determine the upgrades needed, Good Sam turned to Downstreet to provide development and project management services for the renovation of their Barre shelter. Once complete, the renovated shelter will provide safe, healthy housing with a total of 15 beds for those without a home.
 
Beyond simply providing a safe place to spend their nights, Good Sam also conducts an assessment of each guest in order to help them connect with housing solutions that work for them. Guests then work with Good Sam’s housing coordinator to develop an individualized housing stability plan to put long-term housing within their reach.
 
WHISTLESTOP MOBILE HOME PARK
In the southern reaches of our service area, we’re excited to be embarking on a brand new partnership with the White River Junction-based Upper Valley Haven. Their Family Supportive Housing Program covers the Bradford area, where our Whistlestop Mobile Home Park is located, and we have a plan to create three new, zero-energy modular homes to be placed there.
 
Using Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars that are being distributed by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, this project will allow us to offer housing to three families who are without homes on the Upper Valley Haven’s “coordinated entry” waiting list. The Family Supportive Housing Program offers 24 months of individualized supportive services for these families, which includes employment and economic empowerment to help the families remain in these homes long-term.

Our Director of Property and Asset Management, Liz Genge has spent much of her career working to house the homeless and her leadership role on this project is a continuation of that work.

"We are really excited about this partnership," Liz explained, "because it allows us to match up families that have been truly hard hit during this pandemic with brand new efficient homes. Having a clean, safe and affordable place to live may lessen anxiety and stress for families with young children. The services component will also add a supportive environment. Altogether, we hope this project may create an environment where families thrive for years to come.”

Help Us Protect Our Trans Homeless Population

On July 23rd, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced proposed changes to the 2016 amendments of the Equal Access rule, which requires all HUD-funded housing services to be provided without discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The proposed modification means that homeless transgender people could be turned away by single-sex shelters that correspond to their gender identity.

According to Andrew Mangum of The New York Times, “Transgender rights advocates fear that transgender women could be forced into homeless shelters where they would face risks of assault or could lose access to shelter under the proposed rule.”

We’re encouraging our supporters to post a comment on the proposed modifications in order to delay the implantation of this new rule. The comment period is open now through September 22, so please post your comment today and share this information far and wide.

Take Action to Prevent Mass Evictions
As part of our response to the coronavirus outbreak, we have halted all evictions in order to help keep everyone safely housed and healthy for the duration of this crisis. But for those who rent their homes from other housing providers and private landlords, this is not necessarily the case. As many face especially tough financial situations with a loss of income due to the virus outbreak, eviction has become a major concern for these households as well as for public health. Now more than ever, housing is healthcare, and we must take action to ensure that everyone has a home throughout this crisis and beyond.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition has provided steps you can take right now to help provide rental assistance to keep our neighbors here and across the country safely housed.

Take Action Today

  1. Contact your senators and representative today:  tell them that the Senate proposal is unacceptable and that Congress must pass the essential housing provisions of the HEROES Act. Find the phone numbers of your members of Congress here or send an email!
  2. Advocacy Toolkit to urge Congress to take immediate action to ensure housing stability.
  3. Call out the need for #RentReliefNow on social media, using our sample social media posts and images. Tag your member of Congress and demand action!
  4. Publish op-eds and letters to the editor in your local papers using NLIHC’s media toolkit here.

Attention Landlords!
Grant Money Available for Rental Repairs

Grant money will soon be available for apartment repairs through the Vermont State Rental Rehab Program!

Through the new program, landlords can receive a grant of up to $30,000 per rental unit (maximum award limit will apply). This program is under development, and applications are not ready just yet, but anyone interested in applying for a grant should sign up here to receive updates and an application when it becomes available.

Downstreet is administering this program for Washington, Orange, and Lamoille counties, but if you are outside of that area, you can still apply for a grant! Please see our website for a list of organizations to contact if you are outside of our service area.

JOIN OUR TEAM!


Come to work everyday to a job with purpose!
We are hiring a Senior Accountant to join our team!

The Senior Accountant position is a full-time, salaried position supervised by the CFO and is responsible for the corporate accounting of Downstreet Housing & Community Development. For a full job description and application instructions, please visit our website!

Know someone who might be interested in this position? Please forward this newsletter to them!
Share this newsletter Share this newsletter
Click here to learn more about what it's like to work at Downstreet, and watch the video below to hear from some of our staff!
We are happy to accept Vermont Business Magazine's designation as one of Vermont's Best Places to Work! To hear why we love working for Downstreet, watch this video!

Attention Small Business Owners!


Are you looking for that perfect spot to house your office or storefront?
Well, look no further!

We have a recently vacated commercial space available for rent on Barre Street in Montpelier!! This is a great downtown Montpelier location, very close to Main Street, and convenient to all that downtown Montpelier has to offer. What an opportunity for you to take your business to the next level!


Rent for this 1592 sq. ft. space is $1400 plus utilities. Previously used as a child care, this space includes a kitchen area with refrigerator and dishwasher, a bathroom, unfinished basement, and unfinished upstairs office space, plus an outdoor pebble patio in the back.

For a full listing and contact information, please visit our website.

SPOTLIGHT ON SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
 
Join VBSR and Peace & Justice Center for an interactive virtual workshop for Vermont business and organization leaders, exploring racism and white fragility. This two-hour introductory-level workshop will define racism and white fragility, explore how white fragility perpetuates racism, and provide ways to disrupt that cycle. While the workshop was developed for predominantly white audiences, all are welcome.
 
The purpose of the Peace & Justice Center is to work on the interconnected issues of peace; human rights; and economic, social, and racial justice. The PJC is committed to raising awareness of these issues, redressing the harms of generational oppression, and equipping people with tools to lead viable social change movements that include and empower all people. Their ultimate goal is to create a peaceful and just world. To achieve this, the PJC utilizes education, leadership development, and community-building to reach organizations, groups, activists, institutions, and the general public. 
 
 
Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR) is a statewide, non-profit business association with a mission to “foster a business ethic in Vermont that recognizes the opportunity and responsibility of the business community to set a high standard for protecting the natural, human, and economic environments of our citizens, and public policy."
 

 

One of our local racial justice leaders, Noel Riby-Williams is hosting a free screening of the miniseries "When They See Us" this Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings on the State House lawn. All are welcome!!

Where: State House Lawn
When: Thursday, August 6th through Sunday, August 9th
Film starts at 8:30pm each evening

Free popcorn, candy, and drinks will be provided
(masks and social distancing required)

This film, presented in four separate episodes, is based on the true story of the Central Park Five, a group of boys who were falsely accused of a brutal attack in Central Park in 1989 and who spent years maintaining their innocence and fighting for justice. Exonerated in 2002 and reaching a settlement with New York City in 2014, the struggle of the Central Park Five sheds light on the issue of systemic racism in America and on the daily fight for Black life.

The film is rated TV-MA and each hour-long episode will start at 8:30 pm Thursday through Sunday, August 6th-9th. Parents are especially encouraged to bring their high school and college-aged kids to witness this powerful story, which is focused on five boys between the ages of 14-16.

See the event page for more information and share widely!

Project Updates

Tiny "Mighty" House Project

We are collaborating with Washington County Mental Health Services and Norwich University's School of Architecture and Art to design and construct two tiny homes that will provide permanent, supportive housing to formerly homeless individuals. The first home has been finished and placed in Barre City and is now occupied by a resident who was previously experiencing homelessness. Additionally, an existing house next to the tiny home lot has been renovated and convertede to a two-apartment multi-family home. The second tiny home is being constructed this summer.
JULY UPDATE:
The Norwich students began construction on the second Tiny House in late June, and we plan to place the house in Barre by late August.
Stimson and Graves Renovations

Our Stimson and Graves property in Waterbury is due for some capital work! The work includes window replacements, mechanical upgrades, and apartment renovations, all while tenants continue to reside in the building. COVID-19 caused the project to pause in March as accomodations were made to keep the older Vermonters who live in the building safe. After adjustments were made to the building to ensure the safety of both the residents and the contractors, construction resumed earlier this summer. The project team includes S2 Architecture as the architect and Naylor and Breen as the construction manager.
JULY UPDATE:
The second phase of construction is complete, and we have entered the third phase with hopes of beginning exterior paint in the next couple of weeks.

Love Vermont? We do, too!
 

To keep Vermont safe, healthy and thriving, please wear a face covering or mask when you’re out and about—whether it's running errands, around people you don’t live with, or in a busy area. Doing so helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 and allows Vermont to continue to reopen. We all need to do our part to get Vermont back in business.


Get mask tips at www.HealthVermont.gov/MasksOnVT 
Donate Now
Every donation to Downstreet gives more families the opportunity to create a safe, healthy, stable home. Give a gift to Downstreet today.
 
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