COVID-19 Updates

At Downstreet, the health and well-being of our residents, staff, and community as a whole is our number one priority.

As the events of COVID-19 unfold and our reality changes for a while, we are doing everything we can to support those we serve and each other. We are monitoring the developing COVID-19 situation and continually updating our action plan to maintain our services the best we can while doing our part to slow the spread of the virus. This webpage will be updated whenever we have new information or resources to share, and we will communicate these updates through the channels we have available including social media, newsletters, and paper notices in our rental residences.

If you have a specific question or a concern that is not addressed here, please feel free to call us during our business hours, Monday through Friday from 8 am to 4 pm at (802) 476-4493 or contact us online anytime. Our residents can continue to use our 24/7 emergency maintenance line if they have a maintenance issue that needs immediate attention: (802) 229-6563. We wish you all health and safety during this time and always.

We know that together we will get through this challenging time and emerge even stronger as a community.

UPDATE: June 23, 2020

Wow, it's HOT! Our staff are doing their best to stay cool during this heat wave while they continue to work remotely. All of our staff have been beefing up their tech skills as we continue to navigate the challenges and possibilities of this remote work. We are constantly finding new ways to communicate with each other and those who use our programs and services, and we know that what we're learning now will benefit us long after this crisis is over.

Our awesome maintenance team has been doing an incredible job of continuing their in-the-field work as they respond to maintenance calls and complete apartment turnovers while following CDC guidelines for personal protective equipment to keep themselves and those around them healthy. Way to go, Downstreet maintenance crew!

The State of Vermont is planning to make some funds available to provide rental assistance and mortgage assistance to those who are having difficulty making these payments due to COVID-19. We will be communicating information about the funds available, who qualifies, and how to apply as those details become available. Please check back here often and on our Facebook page for the latest news about these developments!


UPDATE: June 3, 2020

Wow, what a few months this has been! To put it lightly, the last ten weeks have been a challenge for all of us in Vermont and across the country. Coming together by staying apart has been especially hard since the warm weather finally hit, and I know we’re all eager to get back to normal. But for many of our neighbors, going back to normal would be a step in the wrong direction. Specifically, I’m referring to those in our state who were experiencing homelessness at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Even before this crisis, it was no secret that Vermont was working hard to battle homelessness, but despite the efforts that have been made, many are still left with little choice than to camp out on the streets. With the public health crisis the virus has created, our State agencies and nonprofit organizations have found a way to house those experiencing homelessness. Now, about 2,000 previously homeless Vermonters are safely housed so that they are able to practice physical distancing in the interest of public health.

But we all know that this is not a permanent solution. Something needs to be done for lasting change. That’s why we recently came together with our community partners to craft a plan of action for how to permanently house our neighbors who will have no place to go after June 30th. We have submitted this plan to the State for consideration, and we’re looking forward to conversations about how to address this very important issue of homelessness for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak and beyond, into the future.

It is time to rally for a safer future for all Vermonters. If there is one thing this pandemic has taught us, it is that when we take care of our neighbors, we take care of ourselves. Let’s work together to make lasting change by creating a system that serves us in the midst of a public health crisis and in times of relative calm. In the coming weeks and months, I urge you to support funding legislation to house the homeless and to put in place a system for a long-term solution to Vermont’s homelessness situation.

You can help by reaching out to your legislators to tell them how important safe, affordable housing is to you and to the health and safety of your community.

UPDATE: May 26, 2020

For the past ten weeks, the Washington and Northern Orange Counties Rapid Response Command Center (WNOC-RRC), which included a few Downstreet staff member along with associates from several local organizations and the Vermont Department of Health has been providing services and resources to our region in response to the pandemic. On May 15, the WNOC-RRCC structure was been demobilized in an intentional way to ensure that it can be stood up again should the need arise, whether COVID-19 related or otherwise.

Downstreet continues to operate remotely, with our physical office locations closed to the public. All property maintenance is being done on an emergency-only basis, with all non-essential issues being postponed in the interest of physical distancing to continue to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. As always, rental residents can contact their property managers with any issues or concerns, and the 24/7 emergency maintenance phone line is always available at (802) 229-6563.

We are proud of the sacrifice all of our Vermont neighbors have done to keep each other safe and healthy during these uncertain times, and we encourage everyone to continue to stay strong while we navigate this crisis.


UPDATE: May 13, 2020

This Friday, May 15th, the Vermont National Guard will be at the Edward F. Knapp State Airport in Berlin from 10 am to 2 pm distributing FEMA meal boxes, along with produce, chicken, and dairy products provided by the Abbey Group. Anyone is welcome to come pickup food. Click here for more information.

As Downstreet's doors remain closed to the public, we continue to work remotely to address the needs of those we serve. Our staff has completed the training required by the State of Vermont so that any time that needs to be spent working inside of the office is done so safely and in a way that reduces the risk of spreading the virus. However, we are encouraging staff to continue working remotely when possible, with our phones still operating during our business hours: Monday through Friday from 8 am to 4 pm. If you have a need that we can help with, please do not hesitate to call our main office line at (802) 476-4493.

If you are a resident whose income has been impacted by the pandemic, please let us know. These are challenging times and we are here to support you. We will not initiate eviction if you cannot pay your rent because of the pandemic. If you are in need of food, fuel or other assistance during this time, please see the list we have compiled on the sidebar of this page.

As a reminder, rental applications are available for download on our website, for physical pickup inside the vestibule at our 22 Keith Avenue office in Barre, and by request over the phone. Rent payments can be made online, or by using the lock box at our office in Barre.

In addition to our usual home ownership services, our NeighborWorks HomeOwnership staff is available to help those who have questions about mortgage modifications or mortgage forbearance. For the time being, our in-person Purchase Ready Workshops are on hold, but homebuyers who are interested in the class can take it online through eHomeAmerica.

We are so proud to have the opportunity to serve our strong communities in times of crisis and in times of relative calm. We wish all of our neighbors throughout Vermont health and safety during this very difficult time.

 

UPDATE: March 27, 2020

A message from our Executive Director, Eileen Peltier:

On Friday, March 13th, I gathered our staff together to say goodbye and be well, as the decision was made to close our office and begin working remotely in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. As expected, things have escalated very quickly, but our staff has been exceptional in their flexibility and adaptation to our new reality.

On Monday evening, Governor Phil Scott officially designated all nonprofit housing staff as essential workers, as we are in a situation where keeping people in their homes is crucial. As such, we are continuing to work, not only in our usual capacity, but also to address the additional needs this virus has created in the larger community.
 
As we move forward through this crisis, we view our work in two general categories: there is the work we need to do for Downstreet (our staff, our residents, and Downstreet homeowners) and there is the work we need to do in our broader community in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Vermont.
 
In terms of the work we are doing for Downstreet: We have prioritized only emergency responses in order to carry on our essential services to our rental tenants while keeping our staff healthy and safe.

  • We have promised our rental tenants that no one will be evicted during this crisis.
  • We have created a list of resources for information and services that we believe will be helpful throughout this time of social distancing and posted it to our website for all to access.
  • We have established protocols that will keep our team members who must venture out into the field as safe as possible.
  • We are being very careful about the time staff may need to visit the office for use of equipment or files that they are unable to bring home with them, following a schedule that maintains distance between staff in the office and cleaning procedures to disinfect any surfaces or equipment that is touched.
  • Our Executive Team and our newly formed Emergency Response Team are providing ongoing guidance and procedures for our work in this COVID-19 world.

These strategies will inevitably continue to evolve and change over the coming weeks, but with a positive attitude and a commitment to our mission, we know that our work together will ensure the best possible outcomes.

In terms of the role we are playing in the larger community, we are well-positioned with our relationships and knowledge of area buildings to help, and we are doing that now. Several of our staff members, including myself, have recently become significantly involved in developing and standing up the Washington and Northern Orange Counties Regional Response Command Center (WNOC-RRCC).

WNOC-RRCC is a unique, unified regional collaboration of local community wellness and support services who have gathered to act as the county-level response center to assist in the coordination and action of local efforts to support vulnerable populations during the COVOD-19 pandemic. Our goal is to save lives by reducing hospital surge and ensure the safety of Central Vermont's vulnerable populations and communities. We will be focused on providing non-medical, but essential social services to municipalities, organizations, and individuals in need, including but not limited to providing or securing food, shelter, information, medical supplies, transportation, volunteers, etc.

WNOC-RRCC officially became active as of Monday, March 23 after an initial week of planning. We will continue to build our structures and establish processes over the coming days and weeks, but we encourage you to reach out if your community has needs or if you feel you can assist (we’re in need of volunteers!). Here’s a one-page summary of WNOC-RRCC with more detail and direction on how to contact us.

As you can see, there is a lot happening. Downstreet is an integral part of our community, and we are acutely aware of the broader community needs that are growing daily. In the coming weeks, we may all need to step a bit out of our comfort zone to help our neighbors, but we are confident that we can do this with the right mix of safety and self-care for ourselves while harnessing our skills, strength, and compassion to weather this event and move us all forward into the better days that are coming.

Until then, we wish you and your loved ones safety and health during these difficult times.

In peace and purpose,

Eileen Peltier
Executive Director

UPDATE: March 23, 2020

A memo to our rental residents, from Director of Property and Asset Management, Liz Genge:

As you may have seen, the Downstreet Facilities team is disinfecting common areas in our residential buildings including light switches, handrails, elevator buttons, washers and dryers, etc., in accordance with CDC recommendations and guidelines. We have increased the frequency of this disinfecting from 3 days a week to a minimum of 5 days a week for our buildings that have less than 15 units, and a minimum of 7 days a week for our buildings with 15 or more units that also have lobbies with elevators.

However, even with this level of cleaning, we need you to also take additional precautions for yourself, your neighbors, and the Downstreet staff particularly if you live in a building with a common lobby, elevator, laundry room and any place where you may touch shared surfaces. 

In order to help limit the risk of COVID-19 spread in the community, please adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. Do not have visitors come in and out of the building unless you consider them part of your household and/or you deem that there is an essential need for their visit.
  2. If there is a maintenance emergency requiring a staff person to enter an apartment, staff are required to ask you the four COVID-19 screening questions, and follow safety protocols. It will be critical for you and your household to work with staff in such an event, and follow their direction on the safety protocols.
  3. Stay at least six feet away from other people.
  4. If you are sick, follow the CDC guidelines which include stay inside your home: People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to recover at home. Do not leave, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas of the building. Have and use a face mask if other people are around you.

Thank you all so much for your help in advance.  

I liked what Governor Scott said at his press conference on Friday, because it really rings true for our community, “I’m proud of the people of our state and how they pull together. The strength of Vermonters is how I know we’ll get through it. I encourage everyone who is able, to join this movement to make a difference in this time of crisis.”

With much appreciation,

Liz and the entire Downstreet Facilities Department

 

UPDATE: March 18, 2020

TO ALL DOWNSTREET MEMBERS

With the health and well-being of our communities, residents, and staff as a top priority, Downstreet is taking proactive measures to do our part to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Our staff is working remotely and we are not allowing outside visitors into our office. Please see the below list of additional steps we have taken during this time:

  • We are avoiding face-to-face meetings, but as always, you can call or email your property manager if you need to reach them.
  • If you need to drop off your rent payment or other paperwork, please use the lockbox at our 22 Keith Avenue office in Barre or, better yet, put it in the mail or send an email if possible. If you haven’t signed up to pay your rent online, you can do so on our website.
  • We are limiting maintenance responses to emergencies only. Please understand that we need to prioritize health and safety at this point. If you have an emergency need, please call (802) 229-6563.
  • If your job(s) or income has been impacted by the pandemic, please let us know. These are challenging times and we are here to support you. We will not initiate eviction if you cannot pay your rent because of the pandemic.
  • If you are in need of food, fuel or other assistance during this time, please see the list we have compiled on the sidebar of this page.
  • We are working hard to keep the common areas of your apartment as clean as possible. We have increased the number of times that we disinfect all common areas, elevators, door handles, laundry rooms and other common area surfaces. We will continue to communicate updates to you on this web page and by posting paper newsletters in your building’s laundry rooms.
  • We understand that not everyone has internet access. If this is the case for you, please feel free to call us at 802-476-4493 during our business hours of 8:00 – 4:00 PM if you have any questions related to our response to coronavirus. You may continue to call your property manager about apartment-related issues.
  • Our Annual Meeting will take place ONLINE on April 16, 5:30 – 6:30 PM
    You are a Downstreet member and we encourage you to take part in our annual meeting to elect new board members, receive a financial organizational snapshot and address questions to our leadership team. A Member Appreciation celebration event will take place later in the year, on a date yet to be determined.

    Here’s how to join us on the 16th.
    o   Online: join the meeting by entering the following URL (please note, you may be asked to download Zoom) https://us04web.zoom.us/j/442414695
    o   By phone: dial (929)-205-6099 and then enter the meeting ID: 442 414 695#
    o   If you have any questions, please refer them to Mike Rama, Director of Advancement at mrama@downstreet.org or 802-477-1424.

  • Lastly, please stay safe and make sure you wash your hands upon entering your apartment. Keep your hands away from your face, and practice social distancing. If you feel ill, please limit contact with others.

These are challenging times, but we want you to know that we are doing everything we can to help and we will keep you informed of our efforts. Please the sidebar on this page for local resources that we hope you will find helpful.

 

UPDATE: March 13, 2020

With the health and well-being of our communities, residents and staff in mind, Downstreet is taking the following proactive measures to do our part to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Beginning at 4pm today, Friday, March 13th, our staff will be working remotely and we will not be allowing outside visitors into our office. All outside meetings that were scheduled in our community space have been canceled until further notice. You may continue to contact via phone or email and we will otherwise be conducting business as usual.

If you are a renter, you may pay your rent online through RentTrack, mail in your check, or you may drop off your rent check in the locked drop box at our main office in Barre; please do not pay in cash, and be aware that receipts will not be available at this time.

Our Property Management, SASH (Support & Services at Home) and Maintenance services departments will begin to provide services remotely. In the case of an emergency, we will address needs on a case-by-case basis. 24/7 emergency maintenance service is always available to our tenants through our emergency maintenance line at (802) 229-6563. When you have a request for maintenance please let us know if you are ill and have any of the following symptoms so that our technicians can be prepared: fever, cough, or shortness of breath.

Downstreet continues to monitor the COVID-19 virus. We are regularly updating our procedures and protocols to insure our residents and staff are safe. Staff are being advised to monitor their own health and to take extra precautions. Our website and Facebook page will be updated as needed, so please check back for the latest information.

Please take the necessary steps to ensure your own continued health by focusing on hand washing, staying away from large group gatherings, avoiding contact with those who have been sick. For up-to-date information on the situation in Vermont, please visit Vermont Department of Health's website.

To read updates on the virus worldwide, please visit the World Health Organization website.

In peace and purpose,

Eileen Peltier