Vt. advocacy groups reach out to help those losing housing next week

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 6:16 PM EDT
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - As the eligibility requirements for Vermont’s emergency housing program change at the end of the month, about 700 individuals will no longer qualify for hotel housing. The Life Intervention Team is giving assistance to some homeless in the Rutland area about possible next steps.

A cookout Wednesday afternoon was a way for housing advocates to connect with people before the state’s emergency housing guidelines change on July 1 first. “The hope is that they leave the hotel knowing there is someone there to support them,” said Karim Chapman, the Life Intervention Team board’s president.

LIT has been working with some people living in the hotels for the past month and teaming up with other organizations in the area like the Homeless Prevention Center and the Turning Point Center. Chapman says the cookout at the Holiday Inn was an effort to make some final connections. “There may be some folks who are leaving -- who have been placed in the hotels -- after July 1. So, we want to have a good time with them,” he said. Chapman wants those currently living in hotels to know they will not be forgotten, encouraging them to make positive decisions once they leave the emergency housing.

“I don’t know what I would do without them,” said Jesykah Rene Fairweather, who has been living at the Holiday Inn for about two months. LIT and the Homeless Prevention Center are helping Fairweather who is actively searching for an apartment for July. “I don’t have computer access -- not really -- and stuff so to be able to reach out to them and to talk to them. And for them to be so kind and happy and positive and say, ‘you can do this,’ is like, I can do it.”

Vermont Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith on Tuesday said Vermont is investing over $120-million to build affordable housing. And for households no longer eligible for emergency housing, they will get $2,500 to help meet their needs. “The goal is to transition households to other housing options, whether it’s permanent housing or shared living arrangements,” he said. But Smith admits it will take a little bit of time to get it up and running.

LIT is now looking to purchase property to assist with short and long-term housing. The team is seeking local and state funding to help with these efforts. “The state has stepped in, but there is more to be done,” Chapman said.

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