Addressing Homelessness in Bennington County
You Are Never Alone Foundation and Bennington County Coalition for the Homeless partner to bring awareness to homelessness. Homelessness is a growing reality for many children and adults in our community and throughout Vermont. There is no face of homelessness. In 2014, the State of Vermont reported that 1,556 Vermonters including 371 children, were homeless. In Bennington County alone, there are nearly 300 unduplicated homeless individuals dealing with a variety of challenges and barriers that causes them to seek help from organizations like the Bennington County Coalition for the Homeless.
Children experiencing homelessness are sick four times more often than other children; go hungry twice as often as other children, have high rates of obesity due to scarcity of affordable foods with high nutritional value; and may have three times the rate of emotional and behavioral problems or be twice as likely to have learning disabilities or delayed development.
Bennington County Coalition for the Homeless has been fighting the homeless epidemic in Bennington County for over 15 years, partially due to falling wages and high rents. Unfortunately, the work of the Coalition is far from over. The ever-growing homeless population continues to keep the pressures of this fight extremely challenging. Bennington County Coalition for the Homeless strives to give the necessary tools that assists homeless individuals and families pull themselves out of homelessness and into sustainable, permanent housing. Even with limited resources and funding, this year the Coalition has assisted 135 homeless individuals. With intensive case management, help from various community partners – and a lot of self-determination – Bennington Coalition for the Homeless continues to facilitate new beginning for homeless people throughout Bennington County.
“Our hand-up approach gives our clients the encouragement and tools that empower them to achieve their individual goals,” says Christopher Oldham, executive director. “We understand that each person is different and needs an individualized plan and our team works hard to assist them in overcoming their barriers. Though each case is different, sustainable and permanent housing is the goal.”
Bennington County Coalition for the Homeless assists an average of 25 homeless individuals each night. Unfortunately, with limited space to meet the high demand, it is common for the Coalition to have to turn people away from receiving services. It is the goal of the Coalition to expand overnight capacity, services and programing to better meet the need. For more information or to join the fight to end homelessness, contact the Coalition at 802-442-2424.
The You Are Never Alone Foundation along with the Bennington County Coalition for the Homeless have developed a ‘Let’s Talk About Homelessness’ Program for schools to bring awareness to homelessness to school children and offer them an opportunity for community service through the sponsorship of new woolen blankets with the message ‘I Matter, You Matter’ for children, teens, adults, some of whom are veterans without a home or in transition. For more information contact BCCH at 802-442-2424 or go to youareneveralonefoundation.org.