Share your story - Rights & Democracy VT

Share your story

Structural oppression impacts all of us.  We all have stories of confronting oppression in some way, and those stories are a powerful tool for fighting back.  Share your story and we will follow up to help you use it to take action and make change!

Around what issue is your story focused?

  • Gale Harris
    answered 2017-09-19 19:06:43 -0400
    Q: Please share your story in as much detail as you are comfortable. (Stories are powerful, and we will follow up with you to help use your story to organize for change)
    A: I don’t actually know how to catagorize what my issue is—possibly ageism, or being poor, or living outside the box. I own a beautiful property that is located, unfortunately, right by the Dog River. My property was trashed in 2011, pretty thoroughly, and I got about $10,000 in help from FEMA, which sounds like a lot, but actually was barely enough to keep me sort of going. What the government wasn’t able to comprehend, apparently, is that my entire income is made from renting apartments made out of various spaces on my 1830’s vintage farm, and they,too, were trashed after Hurricane Irene. Regulations only allow FEMA to help my residence. So, luckily I got some help from Vermont Recovery to help replace furnaces and water systems for 2 apts, but still lost one rental, a beautiful little building built when the other buildings were built,but now unusable. I have lived on this property for 60 years, and the tenants here are part of a close knit community. The man who lost his home here had been here almost 20 years, so this isn’t just a business. But that is how the government has treated me, and my property. I can’ t get help from the bank or credit union to fix anything, because my debt is too high, income too low. But I pay my bills, so this is just a way of withholding money from the people who need it the most. I think it’s the constant web of regulations and rules that I don’t fit into, no matter how hard I try, that has worn me down to the point where I don’t feel like fighting anymore. I am 67 years old, and the only thing I have in the world is my home and my beautiful land, but it costs so much to keep it going that I really need to feel someone isn’t going to turn me away for help.The government recently took most of my foodstamps away, because I can’t claim all expenses on my property, even though I alone pay them. If I get hit with one more flood, I will not have a home to live in, or a business to support myself. I make $536 a month in social security, so I think I should sell my home even though I don’t want to, before another flood comes. The government has turned me away over and over for help, because I “fall through the cracks” of the bureaucratic system, but almost everyone I talk to seems to fall through the cracks, in one way or another. Are we all square pegs or is something wrong with the system we live in? Sorry I can’t be more specific. It’s been a long 6 years, since this all started with Hurricane Irene. And I know it isn’t over yet. Anyway, that’s my story.
  • Gale Harris
    answered 2017-09-19 11:50:53 -0400
    Q: Around what issue is your story focused?
    A: Other

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