Advocates keep pushing to extend Vermont housing program

Vermont News

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WFFF) — Though many are excited to get back to “normal,” for Vermonters experiencing homelessness, it’s a different story. A potentially lifesaving service is ending as the state rolls back its motel housing program.

“This program was not perfect. It had its flaws,” said advocate Addie Lentzner. “But it kept people stably housed and it temporarily ended homelessness in Vermont.”

This past Tuesday, young people, state representatives, and people without stable housing met to outline solutions to the housing crisis. They’re calling on Gov. Phil Scott to take three specific actions:

  • Extend the motel program
  • Continue the moratorium on evictions
  • Keep extended food resource benefits in place

On July 1, people taking advantage of that program who did not have children or a disability, or who were not elderly, were pushed out of those rooms and given a $2,500 check for assistance.

“We can wrap around those individuals and find better options for them than camping, than turning back to drugs, than turning back to abusive situations,” said Sen. Kesha Ram. “We have the means and we have the ability.”

Homeless Vermonters say when they have secure housing, it provides a basis to meet their other needs.

“Started to kind of get my life in order. I came out of my depression,” said Josh Lisenby. “I was ready to change my life and do different things. I started setting up different doctor’s appointments, dentist appointments, eyeglasses appointments.”

Advocates say the governor has not been receptive to their demands. “He seems to feel it’s okay to put people on the street because this is a band-aid and we don’t have a permanent solution,” said Brenda Siegel. “And because there’s demand from tourists for the hotels, as well.”

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