On bitter cold nights homeless shelters fill up. The Red Cross and several churches are considering opening temporary shelters for additional help.
But when no one showed up to stay at emergency lodging on Pine Street in Burlington last week, churches, such as North Avenue Alliance, put shelter plans on hold until more questions are answered.
"What happened? What didn't work? Why didn't people go? Because we don't want to create this alternative system if people aren't going to use it," said Martha Maksym, Executive Director United Way of Chittenden County.
An answer to why people didn't show up may have to do with restriction changes on a state-funded program. If it's snowing and temps dip below 32 degrees, the state will pay for anyone with a valid drivers license to sleep in a hotel. It cost taxpayers $2.2 million last year alone.
"I don't think we should assume that everyone is abusing the motel system. I think it is a really important option for us to have as a last resort, but I think we really need to understand more. The numbers are skyrocketing in the amount the state is spending-- it's not a good investment in state dollars," Maksym said.
Right now, it costs the state anywhere from $40 to $130 a night per person for a hotel room. That cost is triple what the Committee on Temporary Shelter receives in state funding-- $17 a night.
Advocates for the homeless believe the focus should be on long-term initiatives.
"I don't think anyone believes that hotels, and the cost of them, are the answer to the homeless crisis. But for now they are a short-term fix while we move forward with a lot for strategic prevention initiatives," said Rita Markley, the executive director of COTS. "Do we want to pay $100,000 a month for these 10 families in motels? Do we want to pay at that end? Or, is it a better investment to stabilize them on the front end?"
There is a proposal to be introduced at the Statehouse that aims to move state funds from those hotel vouchers to preventive programs to help families stay in their homes, off the streets, and out of hotels.
Thursday, April 17 2014 7:08 AM EDT2014-04-17 11:08:22 GMT
The Stowe Police Department is currently investigating the untimely death of two adults. Stowe Police responded to 262 Cady Hill Road at 4:38 p.m. and discovered deceased individuals. The Stowe PoliceMore >>
The Stowe Police Department is currently investigating the untimely death of two adults.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 11:49 PM EDT2014-04-17 03:49:04 GMT
Major flaws were uncovered in the Burlington School Budget that failed at the polls. An audit has discovered that the district was making huge errors when budgeting for next year. What this means, is thatMore >>
Major flaws were uncovered in the Burlington School Budget that failed at the polls. An audit has discovered that the district was making huge errors when budgeting for next year.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:53 PM EDT2014-04-16 22:53:47 GMT
Teamwork between a Montgomery farmer and a corporal with the Franklin Country sheriff's department may have saved a life when they pulled off a daring rescue. A woman became trapped in her truck tryingMore >>
It was a lifesaving rescue in the nick of time. A Franklin County sheriff's deputy put his life on the line to save a woman trapped in a truck with floodwaters raging around her. More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 7:00 PM EDT2014-04-16 23:00:55 GMT
After this week's whirlwind weather events and major flooding Tuesday, Governor Shumlin (D-Vermont), VTrans and state transportation officials held a news conference Wednesday to discuss the aftermath. ShumlinMore >>
After this week's whirlwind weather events and major flooding Tuesday, Governor Shumlin, VTrans and state transportation officials held a news conference Wednesday to discuss the aftermath.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 12:02 PM EDT2014-04-16 16:02:05 GMT
The floods forced Gov. Andrew Cuomo to declare a state of emergency in New York. The governor made the declaration Tuesday night. It covers six counties in northeastern of New York, including two inMore >>
The floods forced Gov. Andrew Cuomo to declare a state of emergency in New York.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:21 PM EDT2014-04-16 22:21:46 GMT
A body found near the North Hartland Dam appears to be that of a missing man from New Hampshire. Michael Hayward, 42, of Sunapee, disappeared two months ago. His car was found near the Quechee Gorge. PoliceMore >>
A body found near the North Hartland Dam appears to be that of a missing man from New Hampshire.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 7:14 PM EDT2014-04-16 23:14:24 GMT
Authorities say six people managed to escape a house fire in Plattsburgh Tuesday morning. First responders say when they arrived at 42 Smith Street, the house was completely engulfed in flames. CityMore >>
Authorities say six people managed to escape a house fire in Plattsburgh Tuesday morning. Police say the blaze was sparked by a child playing with a lighter.More >>