Housing advocates say budget compromise falls short

Advocates for the homeless say a legislative compromise in the works to extend emergency housing does not go far enough.
Published: Jun. 14, 2023 at 5:15 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Advocates for the homeless say a legislative compromise in the works to extend emergency housing does not go far enough.

Federal funding for the pandemic-era hotel-motel program has run dry and this month some 800 homeless Vermonters were evicted from their rooms, with more slated to follow.

Former Vermont Democratic Governor Candidate and homeless advocate Brenda Siegel and others took to the Statehouse steps Wednesday. They are worried about those leaving without anywhere else to go. They say many are survivors of abuse, have mental health challenges, disabilities, or are in recovery. They’re calling on lawmakers and the governor to pass a plan to keep people housed until they can find permanent places to live.

“In order to move forward in a safe and stable way we must make sure that we are retroactively and continuously keeping people sheltered because people will become homeless with disabilities and children, VERAP (Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program) is ending,” Siegel said.

“Vermont is not only responsible for this mass unsheltering but the severe emotional trauma as well. To clarify, emotional trauma stems from experiences that leave you unsafe and helpless,” said Rebecca Dupree, a hotel program recipient.

Advocates want the state to collect more information about people being evicted from hotels over the next month.

Lawmakers are set to return to Montpelier for a veto session next week. Top on the agenda is overriding Governor Scott’s veto of the state budget. Democratic leaders are working with a coalition of lawmakers who have threatened to sustain that veto unless it includes funding for those being evicted from the state’s hotel-motel program.

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