Shumlin launches anti-poverty council - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Shumlin launches anti-poverty council

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The Governor was flanked by Administration officials and service providers who will now be taking a more holistic approach to providing housing and other services to help move people out of poverty.

"Several months ago -- early summer -- I called together a number of the people who are here standing with me today to ask a simple question: As governor, how can I work together with my team, with the legislature and with all of you, to make investments that are going to make a difference -- take the money we are spending and spend it even more wisely," Gov. Shumlin said.

The Governor signed an executive order that creates the Council on Pathways Out of Poverty. The council will be made up of a minimum of 10 up to 30 members. Co-chair Linda Ryan is Executive Director of Samaritan House in St Albans. "It's about homelessness but it's not just about homelessness, and people in poverty -- there are a lot of working poor people with two or three jobs that can't even afford to live in an apartment on their own. That is why the rental subsidy is so important, because of the loss of section 8 vouchers in the State of Vermont," Ryan said.

The Governor's plan calls for doubling the Vermont Rental Subsidy Program; giving $300,000 to help homeless shelters deal with federal cuts; boosting funding by $200,000 to help homeless families; increasing help to STARS rated child care providers by $800,000; and providing an extra $650,000 for mental health and substance abuse counseling for Reach Up recipients. For a total of $2.5 million.

Where is that money going to come from? "It's coming from our budget. To tell you exactly where the money is coming from I would have to tell you my budget and I'm going to give you that on January 15th," Shumlin said.

The Governor did not give specifics but said he's willing to work with lawmakers to win support for these and other budget items aimed at moving people out of poverty.  He also admitted that current budget constraints and a $70 million deficit, the initiative will be a tough sell.

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