Vermont needs additional housing of all types. An important piece of the puzzle is the creation of homeownership opportunities for the missing middle—buyers who don't qualify for income-restricted housing programs but can't afford market-rate homes. Philanthropy can help preserve Vermont's high homeownership rate with strategies that target middle income buyers.
On January 27th, the Vermont Community Foundation’s Insight Hub hosted a virtual event featuring the Public Assets Institute discussing its recently published State of Working Vermont 2021 report. If you missed the event, here are a few highlights of what we learned about how philanthropy can help working Vermonters:
- Philanthropy can fund research and initial data collection to inform giving and allow public policy to respond quickly to emerging trends, especially when they reveal inequities and disparities. For example, the Vermont Health Department revised its vaccination strategy in 2021 when early data showed a lag in BIPOC vaccination rates. The change in course helped correct the disparity and serves as an important example of what data can do. Private funding can help fill the research funding gap when government support lags.
- Philanthropy combined with unprecedented federal aid can maintain the progress made last year to reduce child poverty and address Vermont’s opportunity gap. The pandemic gave the public a new understanding and empathy for what it means to be in crisis. The rapid rollout of pandemic aid created a “plug and play” model for administering resources quickly. These factors create a unique climate to solve a broad range of social and economic issues affecting Vermont.
- Philanthropy can lead with giving that recognizes and seeks to address inequities, especially around race. Funding for racial justice work, BIPOC business development, leadership, and community empowerment centers can help.
- Philanthropy can respond to trends exposed during the pandemic, such as the heavy toll on working parents. Robust support for childcare and economic development that grows high-wage jobs can help. So do programs that seek to help some of the most vulnerable Vermonters, including low-income single mothers. In many ways, Vermont is failing this group now, and in general needs to invest more in families.
- Dan Smith
President and CEO, Vermont Community Foundation
- Kate McCarthy
Program Officer for Grants and Community Impact, Vermont Community Foundation
- Stephanie Yu
Deputy Director, Public Assets Institute
- Julie Lowell
Policy Analyst, Public Assets Institute