Tuesday, September 12, 2017



Like most Americans, I have dreamt of having my own home with room for hobbies and family. Like many Americans, I was downwardly mobile, and rather than finding a productive place in the world which would afford me the home I wanted, I have found myself getting behind on the rent, behind on my bills, and homeless. While I respect and admire those with a modest home their achievement, I have not understood how my poverty makes me undeserving of respect and aid. How have I become not a member of my community? I have always believed that it is in the interest of the community to ensure that the floor of poverty includes an adequate home, health care, a decent education and opportunities to be self-sufficient – generally in the form of employment. The homeless are members of the community, people who would like a safe, dignified place in the community, and a job, who have had bad luck, ill health, trauma, or mental illness. That our society fails to provide this floor and fails to respect the humanity of these poor, is the basis of my advocacy.

I became an advocate for the homeless in the spring of 2016, when I was invited to bring “lived experience” to the Chittenden County Homeless Alliance, where half of my advocacy energy is spent advancing these values. Our major project right now is “Coordinated Entry”, which endeavors to house homeless clients with the least hassle possible. I have also proposed a project I call “Everyone Known by Someone”, to create a network of local committees across Chittenden County to know and help the homeless members of our communities. The other part of my energy goes to being in the homeless community, and helping individuals when I can.

Besides being a voting member of the CCHA, I am active in the Governor's Council on Homelessness. I currently work at CVOEO, where I provide customer service, and have previously worked at Burlington's Community and Economic Development Office.

Stephen Alrich Marshall 9/12/2017