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>>

  • Snowmobile season officially ends

    Snowmobile season officially ends

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 1:08 AM EDT2014-04-16 05:08:12 GMT
    Today marks the end of the snowmobile season. The Vermont Association of Snow Travelers reports a banner year with the best riding conditions in years. VAST says next year snowmobilers will be able toMore >>
    Today marks the end of the snowmobile season. The Vermont Association of Snow Travelers reports a banner year with the best riding conditions in years. VAST says next year snowmobilers will be able toMore >>
  • A big honor for a Burlington teen

    A big honor for a Burlington teen

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 1:06 AM EDT2014-04-16 05:06:26 GMT
    16-year-old Yusuf Abdi was named 2014 Vermont Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year. He received the award during a celebration at the State House today. Judges called him extraordinary for his age, articulate,More >>
    16-year-old Yusuf Abdi was named 2014 Vermont Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year. He received the award during a celebration at the State House today.More >>
  • Blood donor honored for his contributions

    Blood donor honored for his contributions

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 1:04 AM EDT2014-04-16 05:04:54 GMT
    There are your average blood donors who might give once or twice a year and then there is Frank Sklenarik. He's donated 140 units or 17-and-half gallons of blood since becoming a donor in 1996. Today theMore >>
    There are your average blood donors who might give once or twice a year and then there is Frank Sklenarik. He's donated 140 units or 17-and-half gallons of blood since becoming a donor in 1996. Today theMore >>
  • Weather rollercoaster wreaks havoc across the state

    Weather rollercoaster wreaks havoc across the state

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 12:07 AM EDT2014-04-16 04:07:42 GMT
    Rain, flooding and now snow. This weather rollercoaster is causing problems all around our region. Temps have dropped so the heavy rainfall has switched to snow. Rivers are spilling their banks, roadsMore >>
    Rain, flooding and now snow. This weather rollercoaster is causing problems all around our region. Temps have dropped so the heavy rainfall has switched to snow.More >>
  • Rutland mom caught stealing Easter goodies

    Rutland mom caught stealing Easter goodies

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 1:07 AM EDT2014-04-16 05:07:35 GMT
    A Rutland mom is busted for stealing goodies for her child's Easter basket.  22-year-old Monica Barker pleaded guilty to swiping about $70 in merchandise from Wal-mart. Police say most of the stolen itemsMore >>
    A Rutland mom is busted for stealing goodies for her child's Easter basket.  22-year-old Monica Barker pleaded guilty to swiping about $70 in merchandise from Wal-mart. Police say most of the stolen itemsMore >>
  • Warnings about rising rivers across our region

    Warnings about rising rivers across our region

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 8:08 PM EDT2014-04-16 00:08:37 GMT
    Flood warnings are in effect around our region as heavy rains begin to move through. There is already localized flooding at some of the typical problem spots, like the wrong-way bridge on Route 15 inMore >>
    Parts of our region are already flooding and others are bracing as heavy rains move through. Not only is rain falling fast, but warm temperatures Monday melted snow, adding to high waters.More >>
  • Man rescued from Black River in Springfield

    Man rescued from Black River in Springfield

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 7:06 PM EDT2014-04-15 23:06:00 GMT
    A man had to be pulled from the Black River in Springfield Tuesday morning. The Hartford Fire Department says it's working to pull a man out from the river. They say he got stuck about 75 feet out inMore >>
    Vermont emergency workers have rescued a man stranded in the middle of a treacherous section of river in downtown Springfield.
    More >>
  • NH agrees Vt. man was insane during killing

    NH agrees Vt. man was insane during killing

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 2:49 PM EDT2014-04-15 18:49:26 GMT
    A Vermont man charged with stabbing a stranger to death in the lobby of a New Hampshire hotel last year will plead not guilty by reason of insanity.More >>
    A Vermont man charged with stabbing a stranger to death in the lobby of a New Hampshire hotel last year will plead not guilty by reason of insanity.More >>
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.