BY KATHRYN FLAGG
VERGENNES — That 10-month-old Haley has never had a home to call her own is a burden her mother, Crystal Kendall, carries with her everyday.
“I just hate putting her through it,” said Kendall, 27, as Haley — sleepy-eyed and happy after a long afternoon nap — squirmed in her lap. “People say that she’s too young to know where she is — but I kind of want to think she does. One minute you’re camping in a tent, the next minute you’re at somebody’s house, now she’s here.”
“Here” is the John W. Graham Emergency Shelter in Vergennes, where Kendall, Haley and Haley’s father, Jack Walters, 22, all temporarily live.
The family has been homeless since before Haley was born, staying in the shelter for the first time last October. They moved back in earlier this month after friends they had been staying with kicked them out of their house.
And while Kendall and Walters considered themselves lucky to find beds in the crowded shelter, it’s no substitute for a place of their own.
“This is a place to stay but nothing you could really call home,” said Kendall.
According to a report published last month by the Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA), families like Kendall’s make up a growing portion of Vermont’s homeless population. The number of homeless families in Vermont increased by 20 percent over the last seven years, from 429 families in 2000 to 516 families in 2007.
For Vermont — which last year had the highest per capita rate of homelessness in New England — family homelessness poses unique problems for state government and for the families struggling to find housing.
The trouble, according to shelter director Elizabeth Ready, is that many Vermont families are teetering increasingly close to the edge of homelessness — and a single event can sometimes be enough to tip the scales against them.
CORNWALL — A recent college graduate from Cornwall is hoping his senior thesis serves as a learning tool for politicians to change federal immigration laws and working conditions for the state’s migrant Mexican farm workers.
Bjorn Jackson, an aspiring filmmaker who recently graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., spent seven months — spanning September 2007 through April 2008 — making his documentary, titled “Under The Cloak of Darkness: Vermont’s Migrant Mexican Farm Workers.”
By KATHRYN FLAGG
ADDISON COUNTY — Chart-topping heating oil prices have some local fuel vendors considering scrapping pre-buy plans this winter. With fuel oil prices having risen 80 percent in the past two years to near $4.50 a gallon, some say prices have got to fall.