For Immediate Release: December 23, 2020
Brian Cina, Vermont State Representative, Chittenden 6-4, BCina@leg.state.vt.us
Kenya Lazuli, Cofounder, Radical Imagination, firstname.lastname@example.org
Steffen Gillom, President, Windham County Vermont NAACP, email@example.com
Vermont BIPOC Land Access and Opportunity Act to be Introduced in New Biennium
Community Leaders of Color Take Lead on Addressing Systemic Racism and BIPOC Land Access in Vermont
Montpelier, Vt.- The Vermont BIPOC Land Access and Opportunity Act will be one of the first pieces of legislation introduced to the Vermont State Legislature this upcoming biennium that addresses systemic racism and BIPOC land access. The bill, created through a collaboration of community leaders of color and allies, intends to acknowledge and address systemic racism by creating new opportunities for individual and collective land ownership and access for Black, Indigenous and other People of Color (BIPOC) in every town across the State of Vermont.
"As Vermont acknowledges and addresses its history of systemic racism, this piece of legislation, led by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, is one important and necessary step toward offering repair for the systemic discrimination faced by many people throughout the state over the past four centuries," says State Representative Brian Cina who will be introducing the legislation.
The bill will create a BIPOC Land Ownership Opportunity Fund with a BIPOC board empowered to budget money as needed for down payments for single family homes, owner occupied rental units and for farms through sliding scale grants. It will also institute a BIPOC "Every Town" committee to create permanent land access for BIPOC in every town in the state in collaboration with Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust.
"Every Town is a BIPOC led project working in collaboration with the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust to ensure that at least one quality parcel of land in every town in Vermont will be held in trust permanently for BIPOC stewardship and access," says Kenya Lazuli, cofounder of Radical Imagination, the organization that runs Every Town. "Land trusts can play a pivotal role in significantly increasing BIPOC land access and ownership by creating mechanisms to keep land in the hands of BIPOC permanently.”
The Vermont BIPOC Land Access and Opportunity Act also seeks to expand financial education and resource management programs, provide mortgage assistance for BIPOC land owners, and fund anti-racist mutual aid organizations that support BIPOC or are BIPOC-led.
"It's important that solutions to these systemic problems come from the people most affected by them and that's exactly what the Vermont BIPOC Land Access and Opportunity Act is offering," says Steffen Gillom, president of the Windham County Vermont NAACP. "It's imperative that those in positions of power recognize the importance of these voices and support their work."