Representing Chittenden 7-4 District in the VT House
December 14, 2017
I wrapped up this year’s Fall “walk-around” of my legislative district the day after Thanksgiving. As always, it was a fabulous experience. Here is a continuation of my report on some of the issues raised on constituents’ doorsteps, as well as in driveways, on the sidewalk, and in the middle of streets.
“What’s up with….?”
“How to save for our own place? We both work, but our income barely covers necessities.”
Here is just one possibility I scouted out. It is called an Individual Development Account (IDA) and can be set up with support from the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO). It is a two-year program where you can save up to $500 each year. The program then gives you $2 for each dollar you saved. So, if you save $300 each year of the two years, ($600 in savings), the match would be $1,200 and you would have $1,800 toward your goal. The goal needs to be furthering your education, starting a business, or buying that place of yours. To participate, your assets have to be below $10,000, excluding a car and your current home, and you have to be earning the money you want to deposit for savings. Please note that your IDA savings are not included in limits imposed by TANF and Food Stamp programs. To find out more, contact Gillian Franks at CVOEO: by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 860-1417×113. Take a deep breath and keep your eye on the prize!
“Do we really still have a drug crisis in Vermont?”
This question came, I think, because some folks had heard that other states are looking to Vermont because we are “so far ahead” in getting some traction around this problem. In particular, it seems that other states are looking to copy our hub-and-spoke model. The “hubs” are the addiction treatment centers around the state, such as the Chittenden Clinic on Dorset Street. Extremely simplified, the hubs are licensed to provide medication-assisted therapy (methadone) and help to stabilize patients. The “spokes” reach into the community, often to primary care offices, where there are nurse-counselor teams along with prescribing physicians (buphrenorphine) to further help stabilized patients to withdraw from their addiction. Hub-and-spoke is, basically, an integrated health system for the treatment of drug addiction.
So, to the question: Do we really still have a drug crisis in Vermont? You bet we do. Just one indicator is the fact that since 2013 there has been a 38% increase of children in state custody, with the largest increase being babies and little ones up to five-years-of age… a situation linked directly to parent drug addiction. We are making some progress in terms of treatment and recovery, but not so much in terms of prevention. We have to get “upstream” on this disease which is exacting unspeakable damage on individuals, communities, and the state.
As always, if you would like to talk about this or any other legislative issue, please do not be shy. Contact me by email at email@example.com, by phone at 802-862-7404, at my home at 232 Patchen Road, on the street, or at Trader Duke’s from 8:30 to 9:30 on Saturday mornings.