News

National ‘Healthy Homes’ Award Goes to Vermont’s Weatherization Program

Vermont’s Weatherization Program won the prestigious HUD Secretary’s Award for Healthy Homes for its ‘One Touch’ program, which provides seamless referrals to 20 partner programs that help address the health, housing, and energy needs of all Weatherization clients. Vermont’s is the first Weatherization program in the country to provide this type of integrated service for all clients, with the goal of improving clients’ health and energy outcomes at the same time. SEVCA’s Weatherization Program is part of this statewide effort, which has “touched” over 1,300 Vermont households since 2014. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the four recipients of the award at the National Environmental Health Association’s (NEHA’s) annual conference in Grand Rapids, MI in July.

Read more HERE.

Give Your Preschooler a Head Start…Now With Expanded Classroom Hours!

SEVCA’s Head Start program, with classrooms in Springfield, Chester, White River Junction, and Windsor, is now accepting applications for the 2017-18 school year. Head Start offers a free, high quality early education program to families with children ages 3 to 5, along with parenting education and family support services. Children must turn age 3 by September 1, and families must be income-eligible to enroll.

Head Start is excited to offer expanded hours of classroom instruction in the coming year! Previously, children were in the classroom for four hours/day, four days/week (a total of 16 hours of instruction). Now, 15 Head Start children at the Chester Community Preschool and all children at the Windsor and White River Junction centers will have 6 hours of classroom time, 5 days/week (30 hours). This will make it easier for children with working parents to attend, and help them achieve even better developmental and educational outcomes.

To enroll, please contact SEVCA’s Head Start Program Director Lori Canfield at 802-885-6669 or 1-877-535-3497, or send her an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Good News! Grant Awards for Energy Efficiency, Health Navigation, Housing

SEVCA Granted Major Award for Health Care Navigator Program

SEVCA was just awarded a 3-year grant for $97,704 from the Fannie Holt Ames & Edna Louise Holt Fund (BACCGF), Bank of America, N.A., Trustee to support health care access for low-income and vulnerable households in Windham and Windsor Counties.

The award will enable SEVCA to continue our existing successful Health Care Navigator program in the face of extremely limited government funding for this vital service, which currently helps over 400 area low-income households per year to access coverage. It also includes expansion of services to elderly and disabled households that require assistance with Medicaid Supplemental, Medicare Savings, VPharm, and disability insurance (SSDI) programs.

“This grant comes at exactly the right moment, as state funding has all but dried up for the Navigator program at the same time that efforts to eliminate or significantly reduce coverage for millions of households nationwide are moving forward in Congress,” said Steve Geller, SEVCA’s Executive Director. “Without advocates to assist them, the negative impacts of an increasingly challenging health insurance environment on lower-income households will be even worse, and hundreds of local families, seniors, and individuals could be left to fend for themselves as they try to maintain their coverage and obtain appropriate care and treatment. This grant means that, at least in Southeastern Vermont, vulnerable families will have someone on their side.”

SEVCA’s experienced Navigator, who has been helping residents with low incomes access health insurance for the past four years, will work diligently to help them obtain and maintain coverage wherever possible. And, if legislative changes begin to limit access to coverage, she will also collect and share information about what happens to some of these households in terms of cost increases, losing access to coverage, and the resulting impacts of no longer receiving adequate health care, in order to raise awareness about the need for affordable universal health insurance.

SEVCA also received a small grant of $8,300 from Vermont Health Connect (representing a steep cut from the $45,000 grant awarded last year), which will also support the Navigator program.

 

New Grant from Efficiency Vermont Helps Achieve Energy Savings

Efficiency Vermont awarded SEVCA an 8-month grant of $ 27,090 to introduce energy-efficient technology and practices to area households with low incomes.

SEVCA’s Emergency Home Repair (EHR) Coordinator will conduct free home visits and provide education on how to maximize cost savings through additional energy-efficient practices, products, and resources; install/provide various energy-efficient devices; and recommend further energy-efficiency improvements (such as Weatherization). On-site interventions during the home visit include direct installation of efficient products such as LED bulbs, advanced power strips, low-flow showerheads, pipe wrap, and caulking, all at no cost to the resident.

The program runs through December 2017, at which time further funding may be made available to extend the program. Windham and Windsor County households interested in a home visit should contact John Nielson at 802-722-4575, ext. 138 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Two Grant Awards to Help Homeless and At-risk Households Renewed

The Housing Opportunity Program (HOP), administered by the Vermont Office of Economic Opportunity, recently awarded $225,800 to fund SEVCA’s homelessness prevention and re-housing efforts. The award provides $152,683 for services in the Brattleboro-area Agency of Human Services (AHS) District, $45,667 in the Hartford (Upper Valley) AHS District, and $27,453 in the Springfield AHS District. The award is renewable for one year, subject to funding availability, for a total possible award of $451,600 over two years. It will enable SEVCA’ Family Services program to continue to provide housing assistance and case management services to at-risk and homeless families throughout our Windham and Windsor County service area.

The HOP application included a request for continuation of the General Assistance (GA) Alternatives Pilot Program, which, in the past year, funded a part-time case manager to work directly with homeless families and individuals sheltered in motels in the Brattleboro area. The goal was to shorten their motel stay by supporting them to locate a more permanent housing solution as soon as possible. SEVCA had also requested to take over a project that had been initially funded through Groundworks Collaborative, in which apartments were master-leased to provide temporary emergency housing. Funding for the GA Alternatives grant came from GA program funds and was evaluated through a separate process; unfortunately, due to anticipated program cuts, only 3 months of funding was provided to continue the part-time case manager, and no funding was provided to lease the emergency apartments. The state is currently in the process of assessing whether it will be able to extend the funding beyond that initial period.

Granite United Way also recently announced their grant awards, which included an $18,000 grant to SEVCA’s Family Services department to provide fuel and housing assistance to Windsor County households in crisis. The award was slightly less than the $20,000 awarded last year. GUW funding enables SEVCA to help households that might not meet the strict state program eligibility criteria for the HOP or Crisis Fuel programs, and is essential to meeting the needs of vulnerable Windsor County households.

Federal Cut to IDA Program Leaves Future of Program Uncertain

Over the past two decades, the Individual Development Account (IDA) program has emerged as a proven strategy for helping families with low incomes build savings and assets. However, the program just suffered a setback when it was de-funded by Congress in the latest budget approved for the current fiscal year. Although the state of Vermont did include IDA matching and operating funds in its budget for FY18, it is unclear at this time if the state is still committed to releasing those funds, given the cut in the federal funds they were intended to match. If the state chose not to release this funding, it would have major implications for the future of the program, and even for the ability of current participants to continue saving and purchasing assets with their matched savings.

The federal government incentivized savings through the IDA by providing matching funds to households who saved money to acquire an asset-- buying a home, getting further education, or starting/expanding a business. Many states, such as Vermont, provided matching funds, resulting in a $2 match for every $1 saved, a great incentive to get households moving in the direction of greater financial stability. SEVCA, like the other Community Action Agencies (CAAs) in the state, still has several cohorts of IDA participants in the saving phase, and staff are needed to support them as they complete their savings and access their matching funds. Since the CAAs have to a great extent relied upon state funding for program operations as well as the match, and it is uncertain whether those funds will be forthcoming, the program is in jeopardy. Currently, the CAAs are advocating for the state to release the funds they appropriated for the program and working to locate alternative sources of funding.

SEVCA will continue to update its stakeholders on this developing story. Any ideas to raise funds for the IDA program are very welcome and can be shared with Steve Geller at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Supporters are also urged to let their state legislators know how valuable the IDA program is in helping people lift themselves out of poverty and transform their lives, and how essential it is to release the state funding. State legislators are listed HERE.

“Nothing could be worse than the fear that one had given up too soon, and left one unexpended effort that might have saved the world. ”

Jane Addams (U.S. social worker, 1860-1935)