Many homeless Vermonters can return to hotel-motel program
MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Homeless Vermonters who want to stay in hotels this winter received a reprieve Wednesday following the Biden administration’s decision to extend FEMA funding until spring.
That funding includes reimbursements for the state’s hotel-motel program, allowing the governor to extend the program until March as well as loosening some criteria. People will be able to apply once and have a room for 100 days. And those under 60 without a disability and without children are eligible too, which includes many who were kicked out this summer.
Two years ago, the state says the program served about 250 but that number has grown to upwards of 1,500.
Homeless advocate Brenda Siegel and others have been camping on the Statehouse steps for the last month to protest the administration’s homeless policies. With this win, they say they’re now heading inside for the night. “Hearing this news, mostly my mind is on other people. But mostly my mind is on other people and how hard it is to sleep and still do your job and still do paperwork and not mess up parts of your life. That’s with amenities -- people bringing us food,” she said.
Even with the new funding, there may be a shortage of hotel rooms. State officials on Tuesday said hotels have to want to participate in the program. They say shelter space will be used as a first option and that they are scouring for more rooms.
In the long run, officials continue to say the hotel program isn’t an ideal solution and they’re working to find more housing units.
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