Travis Duval and his family have been living at the Ho Hum Motel for almost three weeks. After getting injured at work and being forced to close down his business, Duval says he never thought this would happen.
"We still can't make enough no matter what we do," Duval said. "It's not just based on circumstantial, it's based on environment, job opportunities and things like that, and circumstance. Bad things happen sometimes to good people."
And Duval says he's lucky to have his motel room. He got it just before a new state plan to crack down on homeless voucher abuse was set to start July 15.
"It hurts a little bit," Duval said. "You can work as hard as you want and still get screwed in a way... and that's how a lot of people out here basically feel; that we're kind of getting worked over."
The Vermont Agency of Human Services created a point system in response to lawmakers' concerns about voucher abuse, making it tougher to obtain a motel room. But advocates pushed for a delay until August.
"I think it would have been disastrous," said Rita Markley of the Committee on Temporary Shelter.
"It was far too narrow," said Christopher Curtis of Vermont Legal Aid. "It's pointless to have a point system that doesn't work if people can't get access to it."
The original system surveyed applicants to gain points based on their level of "vulnerability." To get a voucher, an applicant needs at least 6 points.
"There's no doubt where we drew the line a number of people would not have received assistance. We've modified the line to try to make the program more responsive to people," said Dave Yacavone, the commissioner of the Vermont Department for Children and Families.
After a meeting Tuesday, advocates and the Agency of Human Services agreed to lower the entry level to 4 points and give immediate access to people 65 and over, mothers in their third trimester, mothers with children 6 years old or younger, disabled people, and anyone who went through a catastrophic event.
AHS says the changes are a big improvement, but they are still working to clamp down on abuse of the system.
"Any program has outliers of people who may misuse it, but I don't think that's the norm by any means," Yacavone said.
But advocates urge the public to be patient and understand what the task at hand is.
"Homelessness is not like an incurable disease where we don't know what the answer is and you're struggling and hoping you can find a cure," Markley said. "We know the answer; it's housing. And it's got to be housing that people can afford on whatever their income is."
Advocates say they plan to give these changes to a legislative committee immediately and hope to use public input on this system before it's officially put into place.
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 >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:07 PM EDT2014-04-16 22:07:50 GMT
Police in Haverhill, N.H., say they got numerous calls about a young child walking down a road alone. They found the child about a mile from her home. She was brought back to the residence, but the NewMore >>
Police in Haverhill, N.H., say they found a young child alone about a mile from her home.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 12:00 PM EDT2014-04-16 16:00:26 GMT
U.S. Marshals have caught a Vermont woman who escaped from furlough. Authorities say Kylee Dubuque, 29, of Essex, had been on the run since late March. Essex police nearly caught her last week, but sheMore >>
U.S. Marshals have caught a Vermont woman who escaped from furlough.More >>