Happy New Year, fam! This month, we are focused on housing. The following article is by Dylan Rhymaun, who will be contributing to our newsletter moving forward.
Every year, the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission releases a “scorecard” that gives insight into many aspects of the county, including demographics, employment, immigration, housing, and so on. The ECOS scorecard (which stands for Environment, Community, Opportunity, and Sustainability) makes important distinctions between discrepancies in white vs BIPOC ways of living. One statistic from 2021 that stood out was that a whopping 99.7% of population growth over the last 10 years within Chittenden County is that of the BIPOC community. Meanwhile, in rural areas such as Franklin County, BIPOC populations have seen an even greater shift, with white populations actually leaving the area at a greater percentage than in Chittenden amongst an overall +2,220 population change. This means that white populations declined at a rate greater than incoming POC community members. VT PoC board and staff often discuss who these BIPOC individuals and families are, what compels them to live in rural Vermont, and what can be done to better support them?
A major issue facing all Vermonters, but in particular the rural BIPOC community, is housing availability. Even in Burlington, only 1.6% of housing stock is available for rent or ownership, and only 4.1% of home owners in the town are BIPOC identified out of the city’s 6079 owner-occupied units. Between 2016 and 2020, 87% of homes built in Vermont were built in areas “planned for growth” (CCRPC, 2020). This refers mainly to apartment buildings such as those by the old Burlington College campus, or the UVM sponsored development in South Burlington that was announced recently. These lands are proposed by construction companies and approved by local municipalities, often years in advance of any work actually beginning.
While new housing opportunities are great for renters who live in these areas (by driving down rents for existing, poorly maintained housing), this statistic also indicates a lack of rural developments. Workers relocating to this state, as many VT PoC members have experienced, see little change in three important aspects of their lives: housing alternatives, rent competition, and importantly, opportunities for home ownership. As if existing while BIPoC in Vermont was not already hard enough, the absence of new constructions outside of urban settings maintains a status quo of whiteness and high rents for old units, that often end up being a sunk cost to renters thanks to already poor wages, while barring them from planning for future investments in themselves and their communities.
Vermont as a whole, along with local municipal governments, can do more to serve new and existing residents. Promoting development of shared zoning buildings, as well as units available for purchase instead of just rentals, can help everyone invest in their own future. VT PoC is working with several organizations to bring these disparities to light, and to continue advocating for more equitable housing opportunities.
This month, we are working with Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) to discuss home ownership (Jan 19; register here), and The Roots Social Justice Center is hosting an in-person financial liberation series, which will include discussion on homeownership as the third workshop (January through March; register here). If you have questions, concerns, and/or interest to learn more, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the author
Dylan Rhymaun moved to Chittenden county in 2017 and now resides in Winooski. He’s a writer and artist who professionally works in Investments for education and disability savings. Dylan has also worked with the VT PoC Network briefly via the VT Health Equity Initiative and looks forward to continuing to support the organization. View more of their work at dylanrhymaun.com.
Banner image credit to Isora Lithgow Creations.
VT PoC Member Spotlight
Owner, Spreading Justice, LLC
Justice Elijah is a social and racial justice advocate and consultant from Bainbridge, GA, and currently living in Middlebury. She came to Vermont as an Americorps member and quickly became part of the community by speaking out on racial justice issues via statewide organizations. She became connected to us via Abundant Sun’s Vermont Racial Justice Housing Jam, where she was a leader in the conversations around the current housing crisis in Vermont, and the impact it has on the BIPOC community. Her background in property management, personal experience as a Black woman looking for housing in Vermont, and passion to educate the general public about racial justice led her to start her business, Spreading Justice, LLC., and to participate in the VT Racial Justice Housing Jam. Read her entire Spotlight Interview here, and you can meet her in person in Middlebury on January 13th at Middlebury College’s MLK keynote event (see link below for info).
Read the rest of our interview with Justice here.
Resources & Updates
1/11 Job Fair at Richard Kemp Center [In-person]
The Richard Kemp Center and Pathways Vermont is hosting a Job Fair for ages 16+. Employment supports, e.g. resume development and more will be offered! January 11 from 3pm-6pm.
1/12 Intro to Excel [Virtual]
Join CVOEO to get a leg-up in Excel (spreadsheets)! This is part of the Community Navigator Pilot Program (CNPP). January 12 from 4:30pm-6:30pm. Click here to register.
1/13 UVM Entrepreneurship Forum [Virtual]
Join VT PoC and other statewide organizations to learn more about entrepreneurship across the state! January 13 from 9am – 10am. Teams link to join.
1/13 Food and Fellowship with Middlebury College [In-person]
Join Justice Elijah at Middlebury’s Center for Community Engagement’s MLK celebration, featuring Ester Charlestin. January 13 starting at 5:30pm. RSVP ASAP here.
1/14 BIPOC Winter Community Day [In-person]
Join VT PoC at Leddy Park in Burlington, VT for a day of winter activities!
Saturday, Jan 14 from 2-5pm. Click here for more info.
1/19 Create your own Small Business Website [Virtual]
CVOEO is hosting a virtual workshop on creating a small business website using Google Suite. This workshop is part of the Community Navigator Pilot Project series. January 19 from 4:30pm.
Click here to register.
1/19 VT PoC x VHFA Homebuyer Webinar [Virtual]
Join VT PoC and VHFA to help you understand tips and tricks to succeed in the home buying process. Two opportunities to join! January 19 at 11:30am-1:00pm or 6:00pm-7:30pm. Register here.
1/21 Money Matters:
BIPOC Financial Liberation & Wellness Series [In-person]
The Roots Social Justice Center is hosting a three-month introductory series on understanding financial matters. Begins January 21; FREE and in-person in Brattleboro. Register here.
1/21 BIPOC Ski Days [In-person]
Craftsbury Outdoor Center is offering BIPOC Ski Days again! Join in for free cross country ski pass, gear, ski lesson, hot drinks and light snacks, and lots of smiles! Limited spots available.
Saturday, Jan 21 and Sunday Feb 26
Soul Food Sundays [In-person]
Every second Sunday of the month, join The Roots Social Justice Center for a soul food potluck in a BIPOC affinity space! Bring a dish to share; all ages welcome. Click here for more info.
VT Art Council Creative Futures Round 2 now open!
The Art Council’s Creative Futures Grant Program has opened for the second round of applications! The eligibility criteria has changed, including any creative business/non-profit that was set-up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Deadline for Round 2 is Feb. 28. Find all the info at this link.
Want support for your Creative Futures Grant Application?
The Arts Council’s Creative Futures Grant Program opened for Round 2 of applications on Jan 5, with NEW eligibility criteria. Reach out to Krystal using the link below to schedule a time to discuss! Email Krystal here.
VEDA Forgivable Loan application period extended
The Vermont Economic Development Authority is extending the Forgivable Loan application period. If you are considering applying, click on the link below or reach out to VT PoC for support! Find all the info at this link.
802 Opportunity Grant – Free Tuition at CCV
Vermont Student Assistance Corp. announced the 802 Opportunity Grant: free tuition at the Community College of Vermont for Vermonters with a family income of $75,000 or less. Click to link to article.
KidSafe Collaborative Award Nominations Due Jan 13
KidSafe is a Chittenden County-based agency focused on the prevention of child abuse and neglect. Their annual event recognizes someone who contributed to child and youth well-being. Nominations deadline is January 13. Event will be held on April 18. Click here to learn more and nominate!
Champlain College and HULA announce partnership to support entrepreneurs
Champlain College and HULA announced a new partnership to support entrepreneurship, with a commitment to mutually support the growth of the entrepreneurial community and be an economic engine of opportunity for Vermont. This initiative is led by VT PoC member, Alex Hernandez, President of Champlain College! Click here to register.
Winooski parents drive school buses
Amid a nationwide bus driver shortage, Winooski’s immigrant parents are stepping up to helm the buses to serve students who live farthest away from the school. Click here for article.
Women’s Business ‘Start Up’ Course Aims To Knock Down Obstacles
Mercy Connection’s Start Up course offers VT women to learn how to open their own businesses. Begins late January; financial assistance available. Click here to register.