BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Vermont is extending emergency hotel housing for some of the state’s homeless population through April 1, officials said. Gov. Phil Scott said Tuesday the funding comes as part of a broader COVID-19 response by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Vermont’s General Assistance Emergency Housing program allows homeless Vermonters who meet a set of criteria to stay in a motel or hotel for up to 84 days. The program was expanded during the pandemic. To be eligible under the current requirements, applicants must have a household member under 18 or over 59, be pregnant, disabled, threatened by domestic violence, in need of housing due to a natural disaster, or someone who has been denied housing illegally by a landlord.
The Burlington Free Press reports that as of October 14, there were about 1,500 Vermonters housed under the program. That number is down from more than 2,250 in June. The people who didn’t meet the new requirements were given $2,500 this summer to help them find new places to live, but there is no public data on how those people fared.
Some housing advocates say the requirements for the program are too narrow and should be expanded. The advocates want the program expanded to include everyone in need of housing and eliminate the 84-day cap.
The advocates wrote in a joint statement Tuesday that the federal funding makes it easier to provide services for everyone who is experiencing homelessness. “People need consistent stability for a prolonged period of time without risk of being cast out, in order to take those steps,” the statement said.