Homelessness advocates vow Statehouse campout to push aid

Vermont News

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A group of housing advocates is promising to camp outside the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier until the state does more to help homeless people, one of the advocates said Friday.

Brenda Siegel, of Newfane, and others want the expanded eligibility for housing assistance to stay in place through the end of the year. Begun amid the pandemic, it’s set to expire on October 21. The advocates also want the state to accept federal funds intended for that purpose.

“Any measure taken must include people who are on the street now and maybe in the future,” Siegel said in an email Friday.

In July, the state extended the hotel voucher program, which is used to provide shelter for some of those who experienced homelessness during the pandemic, through mid-September. Gov. Phil Scott later moved to keep the program running for 30 days, until October 21, so a replacement could be developed.

On Friday, Rebecca Kelley, a spokesperson for the governor, said in an email the replacement plan is nearing completion and that a further extension would be included, without providing details.

Meanwhile, Siegel said in a text Friday that she and one other person are the main organizers, but others have joined for different aspects. They will be using sleeping bags to camp in front of the Statehouse. “The idea is that we are going to stay until appropriate action is taken,” she said. “Lots of folks (are) bringing us supplies and food and lots of visitors.”

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