Each April we celebrate Fair Housing Month, the 1968 passage of the Fair Housing Act with a series of public education and art events to raise awareness about housing discrimination in Vermont and the positive role that inclusive, affordable housing plays in thriving communities.
Raising awareness about issues of fair housing is especially important this year, with the country still deep into a health crisis that has magnified existing economic and health disparities and has destabilized our country, state, and communities. Meanwhile, there is a tremendous energy for civic engagement, and people are finding ways to make positive change at the local level and to support their neighbors. Safe, affordable homes are the foundation for opportunity, and a strong correlation exists between health disparities and housing opportunity, especially for people of color and others in protected classes. Thousands of Vermonters were already in a precarious housing situation before COVID – and tens of thousands more struggle to find affordable, and accessible homes.
Vermont libraries are in the unique position to facilitate community-level change on issues of social, racial, and economic justice and to help people become more involved in local decision-making on all issues, including housing.
Programming Ideas for Fair Housing Month and Beyond
We are excited to present these programming ideas to you. Please share what you're doing with the Fair Housing project:
Send your Fair Housing Month events to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add them to the Fair Housing Month calendar.
Or on social media using #fairhousingmonthvt
- Facebook: @CVOEO, @thrivingcommunitiesvt, @HeARTandHomeVT
- Twitter: @VTFairHousing and @CVOEO
- Instagram: @thrivingcommunitiesvt
You may also share your event on the VLA calendar by emailing Barbara Ball with an event link.
Have a book or movie club
Check out the two titles available as book sets through CLOVER at the Vermont Department of Libraries.
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond (ABLE Talking Book #DB83870)
VTLIB Discussion Guide (PDF)
Publisher's reading group guides
Race for Profit – How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (ABLE Talking Book #DB97566)
Discussion guide (PDF)
Or select books or movies from this list to host a book or movie club. To help build empathy for our homeless neighbors, Jenny Ryan and the team at Saskatoon Public Library (Saskatchewan, Canada) built a book list on homelessness titled Reading for Empathy.
Resources on facilitating challenging discussions:
- University of Michigan – Offers great tips on setting ground rules, creating a framework for the discussion, actively facilitating, and more.
- Georgetown University Tips and Strategies for Difficult Conversations (PDF) – Talks about setting up the discussion, self-management (managing our own triggers), and tips for what to do in the moment if a discussion turns into conflict.
Host a Fair Housing speaker, workshop, or panel discussion
Contact the Fair Housing Project team for housing information, resources, and Fair Housing Month event planning support. We can connect you with local housing and support resources, co-facilitate housing discussions, coordinate and support local housing committees, provide fair housing rights and responsibilities workshops, and brainstorm ways to add fair housing-related components to your regular activities.
Fair Housing data resources for context:
- Fair Housing Info Sheet https://coordhousvt.egnyte.com/dl/FxiihbRDcu/?
- Vermont Housing Data (community profiles and town/county/state data on population, household, income, employment, homeownership, rental housing, housing needs, and more): https://www.housingdata.org/
- Vermont 2020-2025 Housing Needs Assessment (includes fact sheets on demographics, housing stock, race, homelessness, and more): https://accd.vermont.gov/housing/plans-data-rules/needs-assessment
Hold a community discussion about housing needs in your community
- Does your community have enough housing that is safe, affordable, and accessible to everyone? What groups of people are struggling and how does not having a safe, stable home impact their lives? What can be done on a local or state level to support inclusive communities?
Host a Fair Housing or Tenant Skills workshop in your community
- Invite the Fair Housing Project team to present workshops on fair housing rights and responsibilities, tenant skills, planning for affordable housing, and other topics.
Host a Fair Housing StoryWalk® or virtual story time for kids
You can create your own Fair Housing-related StoryWalk®. We recommend the book A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams or one of the other kids' books on the reading list. Or consider hosting a story time for kids.
VTLIB has four "A Chair for My Mother" Storywalks® to loan to libraries for Fair Housing Month. Please email email@example.com if you are interested in having a StoryWalk® display at your library. They will be sent out the third week of March.
Join the Fair Housing Month Community Art Project
- Share Fair Housing Month art prompts and hold a virtual creative session for children or adults (art prompts will be available for download from the VTLIB Fair Housing Resource site at https://libraries.vermont.gov/fairhousing2021).
- Request Fair Housing Month Art Kits (available in sets of 10 with canvas boards, paints, brushes, and art prompts) here: https://forms.gle/eG8md7yaPqbQxsMm9
- Participants of all ages can join the Fair Housing Month Artist Receptions to share work and met people from all over the state.
- We ask that participants to share photos of their work with the Fair Housing Project for inclusion in the online Community Art gallery at www.fairhousingmonthvt.org (email photos to firstname.lastname@example.org).
Promote the Fair Housing Reading Challenge for kids and adults
Encourage patrons to participate in the Fair Housing Reading Challenge for kids and adults, at vermont.beanstack.org. Encouage patrons to read a book or watch a film from the reading list and partcipat in Fair housing realted programming and events. The challenge is available now fro pre-registration and will be open for participation April 1-30.
Please share your planned Fair Housing Month event details using this form so we can add them to the statewide calendar of events: https://forms.gle/eG8md7yaPqbQxsMm9
Contact the Fair Housing Project if you would like help planning Fair Housing Month activity or facilitating a community housing discussion.
These ideas and resources are presented by the Vermont Department of Libraries, the Vermont Library Association, and the Fair Housing Project of CVOEO as part of a new education and outreach partnership. This program is supported by a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Fair Housing Initiatives Program grant and supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency, through the Library Service and Technology Act as administered by the Vermont Department of Libraries.