Statement in Solidarity with Families at 300 Main St. Winooski

Winooski Mutual Aid

For immediate release 2.14.2022

On February 2nd, Rick Bove, owner of 300 Main Street apartment complex in Winooski, served a notice to all 24 residing families that they must vacate their homes no later than June 30th or July 1st, 2022 so that he can undertake “major renovations” to the property.

  • Winooski Mutual Aid stands in solidarity with all families living at 300 Main Street facing displacement and families across Winooski dealing with similar housing crises.
  • Housing is a Human Right. We believe in safe, affordable, and stable housing for everyone.
  • We believe that the no cause termination for the entire property of 300 Main St is a form of unjust violence that disproportionately harms immigrants and Black and Brown people in Winooski.
  • We acknowledge that the current housing crisis has been long standing and is a result of systemic racism and discriminatory laws which disproportionately impact Black, Brown, and Indigenous people. Winooski housing policy is not exempt.
  • We believe that the current housing crisis and eviction rates in Winooski are a collective problem, and that we must work together in order to reduce barriers for families experiencing housing instability and facing being unhoused. This is for our collective liberation.
  • We envision a community which works together to find solutions for families experiencing crisis and marginalization due to systemic violence, such as this housing crisis.
  • We acknowledge that upwards of 50 children, many who receive English support will be directly impacted by a forced displacement. We believe children should have access to predictability within their education. Forcing children into unfamiliar schools against their families’ will is inhumane.
  • We acknowledge that this pending eviction threatens the critical language access available in Winooski which most of the multilingual families at 300 Main St. depend on for their children’s education, access to employment, health care, resources, and social well-being.
  • We believe in harm reduction and trauma-informed community care. We understand the impact on mental health, overall wellness, and trauma that disruptive uprooting has on children, their families, and the community.
  • We believe everyone has the right to access information and resources, and in language access. We acknowledge that communicating with various multilingual communities costs money. As a result, too often BIPOC and immigrant community members go unpaid for the labor they provide in support of their communities.
  • We believe in fair compensation of multilingual community members who step into the invaluable role of interpreting.
  • We believe that the city and their community partners should follow the path of solidarity in providing affected families with no-cost access to interpretation and translation throughout this termination and pending eviction process.

Our Ask

We ask for Mayor Lott, City Councilors, and the Winooski Housing Commission to come together with interpreters to listen to the residents of 300 Main St. and community allies to find solutions to identified challenges and requests. People should not have to navigate this on their own, and as a city which prides itself on multiculturalism, diversity, and anti-racism, being advocates and listening to families in this situation is imperative. Housing instability cannot continue to be put on the back burner; it is the forefront of stress, anxiety, and retraumatization for many people in our community right now. The fact that this is within the realm of possibility displays the unjust housing policies and lack of access to safe, stable and affordable housing for many of the most marginalized people in our small one-square mile community.

For context

300 Main St. in Winooski is one of the few large complexes that offers housing at below market rent and has 3+ bedroom units. Three and four bedroom rentals are increasingly difficult to find, yet often necessary for housing multigenerational and larger family sizes. Both of these family compositions are common in many of the immigrant communities in Winooski. Because the rental price at 300 Main St. falls within Section 8 guidelines and the rent is considered “more affordable,” many residents are Section 8 recipients and/or with lower-income. Almost all of the residents at 300 Main St. are New Americans, some have been in the US for one to two years and are just getting their bearings to the new culture and systems here.

The vast majority of the children and families living at 300 Main St are multilingual and still acquiring English; as a result they are receiving intensive language support from the Winooski School District. These supports include multilingual teachers at the elementary, middle and high school and multilingual liaisons who support parents and families in navigating the American education system, interpreting at parent teacher conferences, translating school communications, etc.

Winooski Mutual Aid believes in community care, joy, and celebration of all people and cultures. We are in solidarity with families experiencing systemic violence across the city and beyond all settler colonialism borders. Safety and housing is a human right.