United Way of Northwest Vermont
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Meet Roger


“It was pretty rough for a while, but now I love my home. I’d rather be here than anywhere else.”

Roger, 63, formerly homeless


Housing First isn’t just a program. It’s a philosophy.

We believe that everyone has a right to affordable, safe and appropriate housing. United Way is a longstanding, highly engaged funder and collaborator working with partners all across the community to prevent homelessness and housing insecurity and improve systems to serve people better. We and our partners work to ensure service providers are prioritizing moving individuals experiencing homelessness into housing first – no matter the individual’s circumstances– then providing wraparound services like counseling and job training.

Roger’s story is an example of how United Way works to make homelessness rare and brief.

Roger, age 63, looks out of the window of his apartment onto Lake Champlain, the mountains and beautiful sunsets – but it wasn’t always that way.

Roger is a veteran, and in 2010 he was down on his luck, struggling with health and mobility challenges. Ultimately, he found himself homeless, heavily using alcohol. And although resources were available, he was unable to navigate them on his own.

Roger’s VA social worker connected him with a Housing First program at Pathways Vermont, one of seven housing programs funded by United Way. Intake began immediately and within two weeks, Roger moved into his first apartment.

The team helped him secure permanent, affordable housing that is clean, accommodates his mobility needs and is close to public transit. He has lived there for four years.

Housing First, a model used by United Way and other community programs and partners, is based on the belief that housing is a basic human right, and that access to safe, permanent housing should be prioritized without preconditions or judgments.

The program not only connects community members to housing, but provides connection to resources like employment and vocational rehabilitation.

For Roger, this support was essential. He’s now self-sufficient and considers himself a graduate of the program, volunteering as a spokesperson and working on housing advocacy. He plans to live out the rest of his years in his current residence.


When we surveyed United Way partners, volunteers, donors and community members across our tri-county region, people rated housing as their biggest need or concern.

When individuals and families don’t have access to stable, permanent housing, they are much less likely to maintain employment, have access to food and maintain health and wellness. It may seem obvious that housing is a basic need, but getting it, finding it and keeping it is much more complex. To end homelessness, we must focus on three mutually reinforcing activities: keeping people safe and stable while they’re not housed, finding housing and retaining housing.


United Way is providing 3-year funding to seven programs across three counties that offer a range of services, resources and supports, including: emergency shelter, permanent, supportive housing and housing retention services to prevent homelessness, as well as affordable and alternative housing options.

We’re also working with partners and community members to address gaps, leverage state and federal funding, and build collaboration across programs and organizations toward a shared vision of safe, affordable and stable housing for every person and family.

United Way of Northwest Vermont*** October 14, 2022