Message from Michael Redmond
July 28, 2023
15, 16, 17, 18 95, 100, 108, 104, 147 35, 67
Dear Friends of the Haven,
No, these aren’t my selections for the latest PowerBall or MegaMillions drawings, but there is a certain amount of luck, heartbreak and dreaming about a better future associated with each set of numbers. Let me explain how they connect to the Haven.
15, 16, 17, 18
During the pandemic we had to reduce the occupancy in our Hixon Adult Shelter by 50% as a safety measure so that each of our ten rooms had only one guest. We only gradually began to increase our capacity this year and over the past month we’ve felt confident that we could safely fill all beds. It was hard to keep our census low, but we knew it was for the best. But the need for our shelter is greater than ever as the rental market has record low vacancies and ever-increasing rents. We’ve quickly added new guests to increase our census from 15 to 16 to 17 to 18 over the last few weeks.
But of course, these aren’t just numbers. They are people with histories of challenge, loss, bad luck, the end of resources to fall back on. Their stories might surprise you and not conform to popular views of who is homeless.
Gerri had been camping and living outside after leaving the COVID motel program. She hopes that by coming into the shelter she will feel safer, more comfortable and stable while working on her overall health, wellness and housing goals.
John is currently working at a local restaurant, pulling down 70 hours a week at present, as it’s short-staffed. Being close to work at the Haven will help provide stability and save money for a rent deposit.
Tomas works at the overnight shift at a local specialty manufacturing company. Having a place to live will help him make plans to attending classes for an engineering degree and a career.
Ben has been living outside in a tent during this rainy summer. He works at a local retail store and has been using our shower before work. Having a place to sleep every night will let him not have to worry about losing his campsite, being dry and feeling human again.
95, 100, 108, 104, 147
The first four numbers represent the number of daily visits to the Food Shelf we’ve experienced on selected days over the last month. To put this in context, a year ago the highest number of visits we had in the same month was 78. And 147? That’s the number of households that visited the Haven Food Shelf for the first time over the past 2 months. These are numbers we haven’t experienced since the start of the pandemic.
While inflation might be slowing, the cumulative effect over the last year has been devastating for many of our neighbors. “I never thought I would need to come to the Haven. I’m so glad you’re here,” a recent visitor told me. I’m sure that this sentiment is shared by many. We’re fortunate to receive the financial support and food donations of so many individuals, families, churches, social groups and businesses. You help sustain us.
An early reminder: Hunger Action Month is this September. This is our largest annual campaign devoted to support of our food programs. More news coming soon.
31, 67, 52
And 31 and 67. Thirty-one is the number of people who have had to leave the motels as the Vermont COVID emergency housing program imposed new eligibility restrictions. There are 67 households still receiving this important support, but eligibility will be ending for many soon. We’re continuing to provide housing navigation support for them but the housing market is tough, as we know. A few have entered our shelter. More will likely be doubling up with friends and couch surfing for a while before they run out of options. And finally, 52. This represents the number of tents and camping equipment we’ve handed out since May. It’s a last resort and we wish this wasn’t necessary. But it’s a stop gap that people are glad is available. We’re working on plans to add shelter beds so that this won’t be necessary in the future. More information to come in the future as our plans become firmer.
Thank you all for your support of the Haven.