Quantcast

Vt. spending millions on hotels for the homeless - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. spending millions on hotels for the homeless

Posted: Updated:
COLCHESTER, Vt. -

Ashley Sawyer is checking out of Handy's Extended Stay Suites in Colchester.

"We're in a situation right now where we have nowhere to go. We have wonderful friends and family, however they're not able to help us with living space," Sawyer said.

Friday was her 84th day here; that's the maximum number of days the state of Vermont will pay for a homeless family to stay in a hotel.

"The kids have loved it here; there's a little play area out back. It's felt more like home than most hotels and now we have to leave with nowhere to go," Sawyer said.

The Sawyers' case is not unique. The state of Vermont spent $2.2 million this year for families to stay in hotels around the state. That's nearly double the $1.4 million spent last year and more than four times the amount spent just four years ago.

"I know a lot of money is spent on motels and is just increasing every year, the numbers just continue to go up," said Janet Green of the Burlington Housing Authority.

Green says putting homeless Vermonters in hotels prevents them from finding a permanent solution.

"Part of it is the word is out that you could get a motel, so maybe that's a reason why people feel like it's not as important to maintain their housing," Green said.

"It's a Band-Aid approach to getting people a roof over their head. It's not a permanent solution," said Richard Giddings of the Vt. Department of Children and Families.

Giddings says the state is currently working on redirecting funds toward more preventive measures, like rental assistance. But it will take more time than the Sawyers have.

"It would not be until the next fiscal year at the earliest and would probably be even after that," Giddings said.

Each day Ashley Sawyer's family stays at the hotel is more borrowed time, something she knows a lot about.

"I was an IV heroin user. I have been clean now for two years," she said. "I became a certified recovery coach."

She hasn't been on the streets since 2011, when she stopped using and got her kids back. She risks losing them again without a place for them to sleep.

"People watching this, I really hope they realize I'm not the only one; my kids are not the only ones," Sawyer said. "So, I hope the state can do something to better assist families in this situation."

Sawyer has worked with the Department of Children and Families as a peer educator trying to help other homeless parents in her situation. Regardless, she has yet to find a landlord that will let her move in because of her criminal past.

The state does not follow up with these families after they move out of the hotels and that's something the Department of Children and Families wants to change. They want to match each at-risk family with a caseworker who will help manage their living situation and hopefully prevent them from becoming homeless in the first place.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Burglary suspects caught

    Burglary suspects caught

    Saturday, August 23 2014 12:18 AM EDT2014-08-23 04:18:38 GMT
    Vermont State Police nabbed a pair of suspected burglars and believe they're linked to several other crimes.
    Vermont State Police nabbed a pair of suspected burglars and believe they're linked to several other crimes.
  • Sen. Jim Jeffords laid to rest

    Sen. Jim Jeffords laid to rest

    Friday, August 22 2014 8:12 PM EDT2014-08-23 00:12:17 GMT
    Sen. Jim Jeffords was one of Vermont's beloved public servants, with a career that took him from the hills of Shrewsbury to the U.S. Senate. Friday, in his hometown of Rutland, James Jeffords was laid to rest.
    Sen. Jim Jeffords was one of Vermont's beloved public servants, with a career that took him from the hills of Shrewsbury to the U.S. Senate. Friday, in his hometown of Rutland, James Jeffords was laid to rest.
  • Is it safe to move accused killer Elizabeth Teague?

    Is it safe to move accused killer Elizabeth Teague?

    Friday, August 22 2014 7:09 PM EDT2014-08-22 23:09:17 GMT
    The Vt. Dept. of Mental Health says scarce resources are part of the push to relocate alleged workplace shooter Elizabeth Teague to a facility with fewer regulations. Elizabeth Keatinge was at Friday's hearing.
    The Vt. Dept. of Mental Health says scarce resources are part of the push to relocate alleged workplace shooter Elizabeth Teague to a facility with fewer regulations. Elizabeth Keatinge was at Friday's hearing.
  • Police investigate death of 13-year-old in Hardwick

    Police investigate death of 13-year-old in Hardwick

    Friday, August 22 2014 8:10 PM EDT2014-08-23 00:10:40 GMT
    Investigators say a teen was found dead at a home in Hardwick Friday morning.
    Investigators say a teen was found dead at a home in Hardwick Friday morning.
  • Vt. police say all clear in Newport

    Vt. police say all clear in Newport

    Friday, August 22 2014 11:12 AM EDT2014-08-22 15:12:45 GMT
    Police say the threat is over in Newport. Thursday night, police had asked residents to lock their doors and stay inside while authorities searched for a gunman.
    Police say the threat is over in Newport. Thursday night, police had asked residents to lock their doors and stay inside while authorities searched for a gunman.
  • NY police try to ID pharmacy burglar

    NY police try to ID pharmacy burglar

    Friday, August 22 2014 3:39 PM EDT2014-08-22 19:39:59 GMT
    New York State Police hope the public can help identify a burglar.
    New York State Police hope the public can help identify a burglar.
  • Williston police try to ID paint thief

    Williston police try to ID paint thief

    Friday, August 22 2014 4:11 PM EDT2014-08-22 20:11:41 GMT
    Police are investigating an unusual theft at the Wal-Mart in Williston.
    Police are investigating an unusual theft at the Wal-Mart in Williston.
  • Driver of overweight big rig nabbed in Vermont

    Driver of overweight big rig nabbed in Vermont

    Friday, August 22 2014 8:20 PM EDT2014-08-23 00:20:31 GMT
    The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles says a trucker carrying part of a giant crane to a state bridge job had too much weight on his rig and too much alcohol in his system.
    The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles says a trucker carrying part of a giant crane to a state bridge job had too much weight on his rig and too much alcohol in his system.
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.