Thanks to Berry and Transition Town Manchester
I owe a debt of gratitude to Rep. Steve Berry and Transition Town Manchester for inviting me to participate in a community forum on poverty this Spring. This letter serves as both overdue thanks and an update to the community.
At the forum, we discussed the challenges Vermont faces with poverty rates hovering around 12 percent for the general population, and nearly 16 percent for children. The Governor's Council on Pathways from Poverty released its recommendations to help alleviate the causes and symptoms of poverty and the legislature responded.
Among our recommendations that have since been passed into law are: a driver restoration program to aid low-income Vermonters in getting their driving privileges back; a "ban-the-box" initiative to help former offenders find employment opportunities, and housing supports to help qualified individuals find and keep affordable housing options available to them.
Advocates pushing for change are essential (as is support from the executive branch), but crucial support also comes from the community and its leaders. For that, I wish to thank Rep. Berry, Ron Dundon of Transition Town Manchester, and the other panelists for organizing the forum, inviting dialogue, and most of all to the participants of the forum for helping create the conditions for change.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that poverty rates in Vermont dropped for both adults and children last year. That is a hopeful sign of progress Vermonters should hope to see continue.
— Christopher J. Curtis Montpelier