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Checkout time approaching for homeless at Vermont hotels

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 6:28 PM EDT
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The state is phasing out the pandemic emergency housing program for Vermont’s homeless population. So what happens when hundreds of hotel rooms are no longer available to homeless people?

The state is creating new guidelines for people to take part in emergency housing at 75 hotels and motels around the state, decreasing the number of rooms from 2,000 to about 650 by July 1. That’s still about twice the number of hotel rooms for emergency housing as before the pandemic.

“There still will be a lot of people being housed. Really crucial to this is the governor’s plan to add increased housing for all of this. There’s just nowhere to move people into,” Vermont Economic Services Deputy Commissioner Tricia Tyo said.

One of the biggest driving factors in winding down the program-- hotels wanting to reopen to the public.

“We will have less and less capacity in each of those places. Some hotels have let us know that they will continue to renew people who are already there, but they will not take any new people,” Tyo said.

The Holiday Inn in South Burlington is one of those opting out, saying they will no longer take part starting June 30 as they look to renovate the property and return to accommodating travelers.

In a statement, the hotel told WCAX News, “It was always the hope and intent that the property’s use as emergency housing was temporary and with Vermont’s progress on the vaccine distribution and a belief that tourism and business travel will return to Vermont, we look forward to bringing this property back to its pre-Covid-19 use as a hotel.”

Jefferson Valverde is taking advantage of the emergency housing program since recently becoming homeless. He is not sure what he and his brother and sister will do when the hotel program ends.

“We are very worried right now because we are living with only one month left. We go home or get kicked out from here. Maybe go to the street. I don’t know,” Valverde said.

Valverde and his sister currently have jobs. That income and the possibility of additional state funding might be enough to pay for an apartment.

“It’s $1,800, but my brother, my sister, two-bedroom. We’re looking,” he said.

Tyo says the state is still figuring out how that funding will be distributed. The state expects to spend up to $40 million of federal funding on the homeless emergency housing program in the next fiscal year.

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