Charter House Coalition

From Tom Morgan: Depending on the day, Vermont has the 2nd or 3rd highest rate of homelessness per capita in the United States.  Our rate has increased over 150% since 2020.

There are systematic, intersectional reasons that people become homeless.

  • Socio-economic oppressions, disparity, and impoverishment
  • Substance use and lack of adequate recovery support
  • Mental illness and lack of adequate treatment options
  • Domestic violence
  • Disintegration of familial bonds
  • The prison-to-homelessness pipeline
  • The foster care to prison to homelessness pipeline
  • And more.

Yet experience indicates the most effective approach to begin the end of homeless is through individual connection.  Engaging one human being at a time.  Going into the intersections, being present, seeing each individual, validating their worthiness, and offering them a safe, nourishing space to help them release enough stress and shame to at least start the process of stabilizing.

That space in Middlebury is Charter House.  The people who welcome and support the unsheltered members of our community are the staff and volunteers of the Charter House Coalition and our partners.

Charter House is a rare low-barrier shelter, which means we are full of humanity.  The 25 souls residing in our house, and the up to 6 more in nightly overflow, include those that most of society has tossed aside.  IV drug users, the mentally ill and untreated, and the formerly incarcerated.  Queer folks disowned by their families, fathers and mothers of children that don’t return their calls, and children whose often well-to-do families have simply given up on them.  And we have a long waiting list.  These are the ones we bring into Charter House, first giving them the basics of a warm place to sleep, a structured daily routine, nutritious food to eat, showers, clothing, and an address (27 North Pleasant St) so they can do job applications and receive benefits.  Then we assess their needs and connect them with partner services—mental health counseling, addiction coaching, employment support, housing applications, and more.  We are not a boarding house.  We are a temporary, transitional shelter, which means we are intensely focused on helping people transition into secure, non-shelter housing.  It’s a 7 day a week 24hrs a day endeavor.

I wish I could tell you that we’re winning the war on homelessness.  But as long as this nation continues to invest more in 2 and 3-car garages than 1 and 2 bedroom affordable apartments, the war will continue.  As long as we allow our local leaders to “other” the unhoused members of our community as “unwanted” and terrorizing, the battle will continue.  I can tell you that at Charter House we do things like this…

  • Help a single mom secure her first apartment, enabling her self-sufficiency and helping her take the next step toward reunification with her daughter that is in foster care
  • Lead Addison County’s 14-agency Homelessness Task Force, working collaboratively to end homelessness here, educate the public, and care for the unhoused
  • We have reduced the number of unhoused community members living under the Cross St. bridge, bringing two into shelter and securing funds so two others could travel to a safer destination
  • We brought two victims of hate-inspired violence into shelter—one elderly Black Hispanic Muslim man and the other a member of the queer community, and provided overnight housing for a victim of domestic violence
  • And we regularly serve a very unregulated substance dependent community member with our showers, meal service, laundry, and hours of intense conversation about loss, shame, choices, and the next steps.

Charter House Coalition is grateful for support of CVUUS.  None of our work would be possible without the financial commitment of people who invest in their principles.  Charter House, especially our guests, are also grateful that some of you have chosen to physically enter our space, feeding and spending time with some of the most disenfranchised members of our community.

As you live into the principles of Unitarian Universalism, you are manifesting our community into a more equitable, just, loving, and transformed space, serving one human being at a time.   THANK YOU.

Charter House Welcomes Your Help:  

  • volunteer to staff Charter House during the day for 2 – 3 hour shifts
  • help with food distribution (lunch from 11:45-12:15 daily and dinner 5:45-6:15 daily except Fri)
  • donate prepared meals, bread/rolls, fruit/deserts
  • donate adult size winter clothing especially socks, boots, gloves, sweat suits, underwear, warm coats, ear bugs, umbrellas, thermal wraps, flashlights with working batteries (CVUUS’ RE Children donated proceeds from their holiday ornament sales to Charter House and collected these items in our lobby near their table).
  • make a contribution (Charter House Coalition, 27 North Pleasant Street, Middlebury, VT 05753 or online at

Contact  or call 802-989-8621 to speak with someone and arrange your first visit. For more, visit

Meals for Charter House

CVUUS has always been a generous supporter of Charter House, and with your assistance, we will continue to do so.

Alan Moore coordinates dinner meal prep for CVUUS for Charter House’s guests (25-35) once a month with prep taking place in our lower level kitchen on the second Monday of the month between 10 am and 1 pm.

CVUUS provided a nutritious lunch once a month for Charter House for many years, led initially by Sue Grigg, Mary Lou Bright, and  Ann Ross. This was interrupted by COVID  for a few years but resumed in Nov 2023 coordinated by Michele Lowy on the Wed following when we prepare dinner.

You may sign up to provide a part of a dinner at charter house sign up and deliver your contribution to the CVUUS kitchen before 11:30 on that Monday morning, or take it directly to Charter House. You can also sign up to help with the lunch, including being one of two servers on site.  If you have questions, contact Alan Moore

Baked Goods for Friday Night Community Supper

CVUUS provided a Friday night community meal served at Congregational Church of Middlebury once a year for years until COVID, often coordinated by Kathryn Schloff and Abi Sessions. During COVID these meals became take-out only and provided by local restaurants with faith and social action groups taking turns supplementing them with baked goods. In 2023, the Friday Night Supper separated from Charter House and is its own operation under the auspices of Community Supper led by Dottie Nueberger (802-233-7588). Friday sit down meals resumed in Nov (5 – 5:30 pm) or you can get take out. Anyone is welcome.

CVUUS provides 300 baked goods (nut free) on the fourth Friday of month. We ask for 6 bakers to provide 50 items each. 

You can sign up to supply cookies at charter house sign up and deliver your contribution to the CVUUS kitchen by 11:30 on that Friday morning, or take them directly to the Congregational Church of Middlebury by 2 pm at the back door facing Seymour St. If you have questions, contact Alan Moore