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.
Saturday, May 18 2013 8:03 PM EDT2013-05-19 00:03:45 GMT
Senator Bernie Sanders is touring the state this weekend with a special guest. Sanders and the Danish Ambassabdor to the United States are hosting town hall meetings in Burlington, Brattleboro and Montpelier. TheMore >>
Sanders and the Danish Ambassabdor to the United States are hosting town hall meetings.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:56 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:56:03 GMT
Saturday marked a new beginning for Castleton State College students. "Were all gathered here, getting fired up, having a good time," explained Castleton graduate, David Carrier. The 500 graduates hadMore >>
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Saturday, May 18 2013 7:51 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:51:53 GMT
State police are looking for the person responsible for stealing a school bus and taking it for a joyride in northern Vermont. Troopers say the 2014-model bus belonging Newport City Elementary SchoolMore >>
Police say the school bus belonging to the Newport City Elementary School was taken for a joy ride Friday night.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:51 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:51:14 GMT
Young bikers were learning the rules of the road in South Burlington Saturday. Kids who brought their bikes to the Dorset St. Park received free checks for their brakes, chains, and tires. Helmets alsoMore >>
and much more... making sure kids are safe before they hit the roads this summer.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:49 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:49:26 GMT
On a sun-soaked Saturday, Karen Trayah and her dogs enjoyed the sights, sounds, and of course smells of a festival for fidos. "It's called Woofstock, however, this is our 1st year doing it here at theMore >>
Making sure our furry friends have a place to call home.More >>
Friday, May 17 2013 7:54 PM EDT2013-05-17 23:54:10 GMT
The door to room 118 at the Liberty Inn and Suites is gone-- busted by police during an early morning drug raid. They say tenant Julie Herron, 41, was selling heroin out her room. She was living thereMore >>
A South Burlington drug bust exposed new abuses of the state's homeless voucher program. A couple was arrested for selling heroin out of their motel room, and police say the state was footing the bill for their stay.More >>
Friday, May 17 2013 7:56 PM EDT2013-05-17 23:56:29 GMT
A public defender entered 34-year-old Anthony Wright's not guilty plea in the Chittenden County courthouse Friday morning. Police say a search of Wright's residence two days earlier revealed about 250More >>
A Burlington man denies drug charges after police say they stumbled upon his marijuana grow operation. It happened while authorities were investigating another alleged drug crime next door.More >>
Friday, May 17 2013 7:45 PM EDT2013-05-17 23:45:07 GMT
Prosecutors in a murder case said Thursday that backups at the Vermont Forensics Lab have slowed their case, and the defense said the delays are violating their client's right to a speedy trial. So, isMore >>
Prosecutors in a murder case said backups at the Vt. Forensics Lab slowed their case; the defense said the delays violate their client's right to a speedy trial. So, is that courtroom strategy or is there really a backlog? More >>