WHO WE ARE
Healthy Communities VT is a learning community that was committed to during the inaugural statewide stakeholder meeting held on July 26, 2019 at Capital City Grange in Montpelier. The meeting was held to discuss and begin to organize solutions for families whose housing or health is at risk due to the presence of Bed Bug infestations and/or Hoarding conditions.
The meeting was organized by the Field Service Directors of the Vermont Agency of Human Services and it was co-sponsored by the Vermont Community Action Partnership. The meeting was attended by 90 people from diverse stakeholder organizations from all regions of Vermont.
WHAT WE DO
We are launching this statewide learning community to tackle under-resourced environmental hazards that adversely affect people in their homes. The first two issues we are tackling are hoarding syndrome and bed bugs. These two issues have a few important things in common: Families can lose their housing and their health can suffer because of them. What little funding and resources that exist are available in just a few counties leaving the rest of the state with nothing. With no major sources of funding on the horizon we must focus on educating our communities with factual, peer reviewed, information that busts the myths, the fear, the secrecy, and the stigma that surround us. Fear, stigma, and the threat of denial of service prevent people from reporting the problems and coming forward to get help. In the case of bed bugs the lack of reporting allows infestations to spread quickly through a building and even further into our communities. Education achieves the biggest bang for the buck and that is the primary goal of our learning community.
In the beginning the learning community will focus on low-income rental housing and in regards to bed bugs we will also focus on the vector locations where people inadvertently come into contact with them: shelters, motels, schools, and other public spaces.
This website and the listserv that utilizes the email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, serves has the technology backbone of the learning community. We intend to connect together and provide support to Regional Groups that organize to provide education, assistance, and solutions on environmental issues that affect the housing and the health of the people in their communities.
We intend to hold additional statewide meetings most likely on a semi-annual basis to reconvene people from the regions to share best practices and stories of the progress achieved so far. To become an authentic movement we need to reach out to and include more of the affected parties: Private rental property owners and low-income tenants.
We plan to support the Regional Healthy Community Groups by listing their events on this website and by providing content and speakers for their meetings and trainings. We also plan to hold our own trainings on the issues that currently animate the regions, bed bugs and hoarding syndrome. Our trainings will be held on a "fee for service" basis with a modest registration charge to cover speaker fees and expenses.