Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Jeff Unsicker


Chittenden County, Vermont is suffering from increasing homelessness and poverty among both individuals and families. Residents of Chittenden County face an urban rental vacancy rate of less than .5% in Burlington, VT where the majority of jobs are located and only a 3% vacancy in suburban towns. Residents face waiting lists for rental subsidies of up to 8 years, and decreasing access to services for working class populations who are facing rent to income ratios of nearly 70% and utility costs of 30% of their income. The market rent is increasing and the state budget faces deep cuts to services. This paper analyzes the complex problem of homelessness and provides potential policy solutions and strategies for success.

The paper draws information and insights gained through my practicum experience serving as an AmeriCorps member at the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS) in Burlington, VT. As a Housing Resource Specialist, I worked with people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in stabilizing or obtaining housing through financial assistance and case management services. In contrast to broad cause-based advocacy approaches to alleviating homelessness, the paper describes the importance of case-based advocacy, a process of advocating for the particular needs of the client, while all the while contributing to sustainable, systemic policy change.

Keywords: homelessness, prevention, rapid rehousing, social work, advocacy, strategy, state government, collaboration


Demography, Population, and Ecology | Economic Policy | Growth and Development | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Policy History, Theory, and Methods | Political Economy | Political History | Service Learning | Social Policy | Social Welfare | Social Work | Work, Economy and Organizations


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