New help for the chronically homeless in Rutland

Published: Dec. 28, 2020 at 6:05 PM EST
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - There is new help for homeless people in Rutland. Lincoln Place is housing for individuals who are chronically homeless. And it’s a first of its kind for the Rutland region.

“It’s a really exciting project. It’s a proven best practice nationally,” said Elisabeth Kulas of Housing Trust of Rutland County.

The former Immaculate Heart of Mary School is being renovated into 19 apartments for chronically homeless individuals. Those are people who are without a home or in an emergency shelter or safe haven continuously for at least one year or at least four times in the last three years for a total of at least 12 months.

This provides a stable place to combat the reason why the individual is homeless.

“For people who are experiencing homelessness, it was unrealistic to expect that they will address the hurdles that have caused the homelessness before they get into housing,” Kulas said.

Each lease is for one year and costs 30% of the individual’s income. So, if the person has no income, they will pay nothing. If they are employed or collect disability, they pay 30%.

The Rutland Housing Authority covers the rest through a subsidy.

“This really provides the services they’re going to need to get their lives in order,” said Dick Courcelle of Rutland Mental Health Services.

Rutland Mental Health Services and the Homeless Prevention Center will have someone working on-site if not all the time, a good portion of the time.

“So much of the work that is going to be done is going to be connections with the community, help with things such as employment,” Courcelle said.

Courcelle says recent funding is helping to make this succeed. The project totals about $6.5 million. Almost half a million dollars is coming from the state through a community development grant.

“The neighbors have been supportive, people have reached out to them to make sure it will fit in their neighborhood and certainly city government is behind this, and I know the state has been supportive with state funding,” Rutland Mayor David Allaire said.

Kulas says the support from Rutland City officials is exciting.

“This is the single most important way that the city can demonstrate its commitment to folks who are homeless in our community,” she said.

The Housing Trust of Rutland County is closing on the building in the new year. They hope to move people in by the fall of 2021.

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