Burlington, Montpelier race to address homeless needs

Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 4:03 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Burlington and Montpelier officials continue preparing to shelter hundreds of people who no longer qualify for the state’s hotel-motel voucher program.

Funding for the program has run out and about 700 people began vacating their rooms starting last Thursday. In the meantime, Montpelier is looking to stand up a temporary overflow shelter at the recreation department building on Barre Street.

Montpelier Assistant City Manager Kelly Murphy says they are working with local organizations and planning to tackle needs as they come up. “Not to diminish the concern -- there definitely is concern. We are at the ready, but at the same time we are taking things as they come,” she said

The city and local organizations are also looking at temporarily leasing hotel rooms while people find more permanent options.

The Hilltop Inn in Berlin is allowing voucher recipients an extra two weeks.

In Burlington. Mayor Miro Weinberger Monday said they are also developing a plan to help house the additional people who will lose their motel rooms at the end of the month, but they want the state to pay for it. The city says that affects about 184 households in the county or more than 300 individuals.

“We have a track record, as a coalition, of housing hundreds of formerly homeless individuals, households, in recent months, and we think this is the best path forward and we hope others will see that as well,” Weinberger said.

Meanwhile, the city of Burlington is still looking for a partner to run the Champlain Inn shelter on Shelburne Road. ANEW Place says it will run through September but not after that. The mayor says keeping that low-barrier year-round shelter is a top priority but he says he wants it to be more than four walls and a roof. He’s looking to add programming to help people find work and manage substance use.

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