October 2020 IForum: The Intersections of Voting and Homelessness
October 15, 2020, 10:30am - 12:00pm
Please join the Partnership for Strong Communities for our first virtual IForum of 2020, "The Intersections of Voting and Homelessness."
In the midst of a global health pandemic and an important presidential election set for November 3, 2020, it is imperative we reflect on how our democratic process impacts the communities we live in and the experiences we have. The right to vote and the right to own property are foundational to our understanding of freedom and security. There are a disproportionate number of African American, Black, Indigenous and other people of color who live the experience of homelessness, or whose experience of homelessness has been criminalized, that have now lost their right to vote for a duration of time.
It is more important now than ever to maintain voting rights and voting access for all citizens in our state, and to register new voters or re-register voters using a new address. And the democratic process is especially important for those experiencing homelessness or housing instability, as well as for housing advocates.
A lack of representation at the polls - from those who have experienced homelessness to those who are working to end homelessness in any capacity - greatly impacts public policy. Studies find that increased turnout among higher-income households (those who face less barriers in voting) leads to polices that reduce taxation at higher income brackets, while increased turnout among lower-income households increases support for safety net programs. Voting has the power to make a difference in shifting the public and political will needed to make experiences of homelessness rare, brief, and one-time in Connecticut and across the United States.
In this IForum, we look to expand our understanding of the importance of voting, explore how it impacts policy outcomes, understand the barriers that exist in the electoral process for those experiencing homelessness and through voter disenfranchisement, share guidance on how non-profits can engage in voter engagement and education efforts, and highlight examples of voter engagement efforts taking place in Connecticut.
Presenters for the October 2020 IForum include:
Victoria (Tori) Bourret, MSW
Housing Advocacy Organizer, National Low Income Housing Coalition
Victoria (Tori) Bourret joined the NLIHC staff in January 2018. Prior to joining NLIHC, Tori served as a Communications and Project Manager at the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, a state partner of NLIHC. Tori provided management and outreach assistance for policy campaigns and specialized projects at the Housing Alliance. Tori was also in charge of all communications at the Housing Alliance, including social media, the newsletter, and the website. Prior to her role at the Housing Alliance, Tori served two terms in AmeriCorps, one with AmeriCorps NCCC in Denver, Colorado and one with Public Allies in Delaware. Tori earned her B.A. in Women Studies and Psychology from the University of Delaware and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania.
Angela Bellas, MSW
PhD Candidate, University of Connecticut School of Social Work
Graduate Assistant, Nancy A. Humphreys Political Social Work Institute
Angela Bellas is a macro social worker and PhD candidate at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work. She currently works as a Graduate Assistant with the Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work. Angela has practiced in a variety of community-based settings as a community organizer, community health educator, volunteer training manager and project director over the last twenty+ years. Her dissertation research is focused on the movement for Black lives as a 21st Century Black liberation movement exploring themes of solidarity organizing, transformative justice models and collective liberation. Angela’s work with the Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work is focused on increasing civic engagement and voting power among the UConn Hartford community and through the Hartford Votes/Hartford Vota Coalition. Her work is grounded in concepts of electoral justice and inclusive democracy. Angela is also the mama of a first grader and an aspiring gardener engaged in mutual aid, police accountability, education equity and immigrant rights campaigns locally and statewide.
Sarah Fox, MSW
Director of Advocacy and Community Impact, Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness
Sarah Fox is the Director of Advocacy and Community Impact for CCEH. She is responsible for managing statewide advocacy initiatives and advancing community capacity building efforts. Prior to her current position, Sarah worked as a Project Coordinator in New Haven and Norwalk, helping to provide leadership, technical assistance, and project management to reach regional, state, and federal goals to end homelessness. Before joining the CCEH Team, Sarah worked as a family violence victim advocate at Domestic Violence Services of Greater New Haven and as a recovery and advocacy advisor working with individuals living with chronic mental illness at Fellowship Place, Inc. Sarah received her B.S. in Communications with a concentration in Program Planning and Development from Cornell University and her M.S.W. with a concentration in Policy Practice from UCONN School of Social Work. In her graduate career, Sarah interned in the Office of Congressman Christopher Murphy, the Office of State Representative Toni Walker, and the Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work.
Danielle Hubley, MSW (Moderator)
Policy Analyst, Partnership for Strong Communities
Danielle Hubley joined the Partnership for Strong Communities in July 2018 as a Policy Analyst. She is responsible for analyzing and synthesizing data and information about local, state and federal housing policy issues. In this role, she focuses most of her time on the Reaching Home Campaign and provides support to various workgroups and committees organized by the Partnership. Prior to joining the Partnership, Danielle engaged in several other internship and volunteer service roles including assisting Kidsafe Connecticut, Easterseals Vocational Services in Norwich CT, Camp Care, the Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work, and the Hartford Votes Coalition in achieving their varied missions. Danielle graduated in 2017 with a B.A. in Social Work from Eastern Connecticut State University, where she was recognized for her efforts in promoting and pursing Macro Social Work practices. She also holds a Master’s in Social Work after graduating in 2018 from the University of Connecticut with a concentration in Policy Practice.