By Jan Demers
Have you ever left a job that you loved? Later this month Pam Favreau will be doing just that, moving to Michigan to start a new adventure. Favreau has been the driving force behind, and in front of, the work of CVOEO’s Vermont Tenant’s Program.
Having been with the program for 9 years, she has done it all. She answered hotline calls every working day. Last year hotline crisis calls came in from over 2,121 Vermont households. Favreau has been an active outreach worker and tenant organizer. When Burlington was about to lose hundreds of units of affordable housing several years ago, she was one of the advocates working to make sure that the voices of those with disabilities and with low income were heard, ultimately enabling them to keep their homes. Those units are now beautifully rehabbed and affordable.
Favreau worked with Vermont legislators to strengthen Vermont laws to protect tenants and landlords. As recent as the last legislative session she gave testimony regarding mobile home enforcement issues. She worked closely with Rep. Helen Head and Landlord Association Director Angela Ziakowski to create curriculum educating tenants and landlords on their rights and responsibilities, all this under the umbrella of the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development.
The Vermont Tenant Program is a one of CVOEO’s statewide programs answering calls and addressing tenants’ issues emanating from all 237 towns and 9 cities. The most prevalent issues: evictions, mold, essential repairs needed to an apartment. People call in a crisis, are given honest answers and hang up with a plan and resources.
Favreau emphasizes that there are two sides to every story. “One time I got a call on a Friday afternoon,” she said. “A distressed Mom with two small children said a maintenance person came to repair her toilet and then removed the toilet leaving her without access to a bathroom for the weekend.”
Favreau jumped into action later to find out that the maintenance person returned to the apartment with a toilet, but was greeted at the door by a pit bull and was refused entrance because the tenant was angry.
One of Favreau’s creations is CVOEO’s Rent Right Program. She worked with CVOEO’s Financial Futures program and created a curriculum to give those experiencing homelessness and at-risk tenants the best chance at successful renting. This program combines personal finance training with the practical ins and outs of renting. Favreau and her colleagues conducted 58 workshops and outreach events last year.
She shares her expertise on de-escalation and rapid assessment borne in the moment and under fire of crisis situations. Life’s lessons often point to fundamental wisdom. From Favreau’s lessons learned, “Meet people where they are not where you want them to be. Don’t be afraid to push for what you know is right.”
The Vermont Tenant’s Program continues under the leadership of Jonathan Bond. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Jan F. Demers, Executive Director, CVOEO, can be reached at (802) 862-2771 ext. 740 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.