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Scott calls on Vt. Legislature to fund permanent homeless housing

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Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 7:48 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont Governor Phil Scott says Vermont lawmakers need to act on a sweeping proposal this session to support homeless Vermonters living in hotels.

The state on Monday extended the General Assistance program which has housed homeless Vermonters in hotels and motels to keep them safe from the onset of the pandemic. The extension means that some 1,500 who already have rooms can keep them until the end of the year. Some could stay longer in the hotels using federal rental funds.

But some advocates are concerned that the plan doesn’t help some 1,000 Vermonters who were forced to leave hotels this past summer when the eligibility changed. DCF Commissioner Sean Brown says that some hotels don’t have the capacity to participate in the programs.

Governor Scott Tuesday said a permanent solution will have to be funded through the Legislature. “The best thing for our homeless population is permanent housing, not temporary housing... Not rent by each night, it’s permanent housing,” he said.

The state also says they’ve placed some 500 homeless Vermonters in permanent housing since the start of the pandemic.

But some advocates, including a group camping out on the Statehouse steps the past week, says Scott’s plan doesn’t go far enough for those who need help now. “Governor Scott has a responsibility to protect the people of this state and that includes the population experiencing homelessness,” Former gubernatorial candidate Brenda Siegel said in a statement Tuesday. “His plan does not do that. His plan is the floor and leaves a huge swath of the population out. It keeps those in the motels in a crisis mode and does not have a real feasible ability to end homelessness.”

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