Looking Ahead to 2017
By: Bethany Pombar, VCRHYP Director
Yesterday Governor Phil Scott was sworn in and legislators filled the rooms under the golden dome. As the hustle and bustle returned to the capital, housing and homelessness prevention advocates from around the state gathered to mark Homelessness Awareness Day.
At noon, we held a vigil in remembrance of those Vermonters who have not survived homelessness and honoring those we are still working to support. As we stood on the statehouse steps in the bitter January weather, it was not hard to feel the urgency of finding solutions to ensure that every Vermonter has a safe and warm place to stay every night.
Moments later, we were listening to the newly appointed Governor Scott give his inaugural address stating:
“Those lessons of strength and perseverance, and the power of community we felt …,
is exactly what makes Vermont so special. Governor Deane Davis once said, Vermonters have “a strong sense of duty to their neighbors…passed on from generation to generation.”
Perseverance and community is just what we need in our efforts to address the unique needs of youth who are disconnected from families and supports and in need of housing. We look forward to working with our community partners in an action packed 2017.
In the next year, VCRHYP will be working with partners at the Office of Economic Opportunity, the Department for Children and Families, the Agency of Education, the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness, the Vermont Council on Homelessness, the Chittenden Homeless Alliance, VCRHYP’s member agencies, the Youth Development Program and many other state and local organizations around some big goals.
This year we will begin to build a statewide plan to end youth homelessness by 2020, we will co-host a youth conference in April with the Youth Development Program, we will host our very own Legislative Advocacy Day on April 13th, we will launch a new platform to highlight youth voices, we will enhance our ability to report on the data we collect and tell the story of our work, and we will secure federal and state funding to ensure the vulnerable youth we serve have access to immediate supports.
We will not and could not do any of this alone. Now more than ever, VCRHYP will need the support and contributions of our partners. Only together can we obtain real and sustainable results to protect Vermont’s youth.
Pictured: Front row- Mark Redmond, Executive Director, Spectrum Youth and Family Services; Karen Vastine, Senior Advisor to the Commissioner, Department for Children and Families; Ken Schatz, Commissioner of the Department for Children and Families; Ari Kisler, Assistant Director, VCRHYP; Jane Parker, Administrative Assistant, VCRHYP; Kreig Pinkham, Executive Director, Washington County Youth Service Bureau. Second row- Angus Cheney, Director of Housing, Agency of Human Services; Bethany Pombar, Director, VCRHYP; Sarah Phillips, Chief Administrator of the Office of Economic Opportunity