Lamoille Restorative Center staff and volunteers joined the Lamoille Valley Housing and Homelessness Coalition for the “We Are the 64” Homelessness Awareness Walk on Tuesday, February 6th. The 2017 Point-In-Time homeless count for Lamoille County documented 64 individuals were homeless, nearly half of those being children.
The intent of the walk was to bring greater awareness to the community about the number of individuals in our area that do not have a place to live, to inspire the community to keep the conversation on homelessness going and spur community members into action. Will Eberle, AHS Field Director, spoke directly to this in his address following the walk. His words are below. We hope that they will speak to you as they did with us.
“In a rural community homelessness can feel invisible. You don’t walk down the street and step over homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk to get to the coffee shop. You don’t see people flying signs at every underpass and median.
But we are here today because homelessness in the Lamoille Valley may feel invisible but it is as real as you and me.
We called this event “We are the 64” because last year’s Point In Time count made it clear that on any given day in Lamoille there are at least 64 people experiencing homelessness. Nearly half are children.
Every week our Housing Solution Team pours over a 6 to 8 page list of individuals and families who are homeless or about to be, to help them secure safe and stable housing. If you leave here today and remember one thing I say, let it be this; anyone can become homeless at any time.It is not a moral lapse, or a shortcoming of character,
but a crisis, a state of emergency – that has more causes then we could list.
We are here today not to cast judgments, but to begin to articulate solutions – together. If we’re honest, every one of us who has achieved a modicum of success must admit that it is due not just to our own efforts, but the support of friends and family, and the communities we hold so dear.
We are here today to draw a line in the snow and say we don’t want homelessness to be a part of our community anymore. We’re no longer interested in focusing on blame, and judgment, we are willing to roll up our sleeves and do our own small
part to ensure that we all have a bed to sleep in every night.
Causes of homelessness are complicated, and solutions are too – but we Vermonters are crafty and resilient and willing to work as hard as we need to get the job done. The faith community, law enforcement, and a host of non-profits, state entities, and private citizens have stepped up to begin to weave a safety net for our most vulnerable Vermonters. What we have already accomplished together is inspiring but there is much hard work left to do. We invite you to join us in helping to build the world we would like to live in.