Experts chime in on Vermont homelessness crisis

Published: Jul. 26, 2023 at 5:42 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - State leaders are bringing in help to understand the homelessness crisis in Vermont.

In a forum hosted by Vermont Treasurer Mike Pieciak, University of Washington Assistant Professor Gregg Colburn explained his theory of homelessness.

Colburn stated that the rate of homelessness can be explained by how much housing is available, not other factors like mental health or state resources.

Colburn says the price of homelessness is spread out over many different organizations, and argues there is a better way to spend that money on the unhoused.

“The point is, there are huge costs that are in the order of magnitude that are similar to the costs of interventions. If you are going to spend that money anyway, why not have those people housed? You have a huge social benefit and human benefit in having people housed, but that’s difficult because extracting those costs for the different systems is difficult in terms of the benefits, and quantifying that. It’s not as simple as taking it out of one pocket and putting it in another,” said Pieciak, D-Vt. Treasurer.

Earlier this summer, hundreds of people were evicted as the homeless hotel program ended.

In the 2024 budget bill, lawmakers outlined a plan for those still living in the motel program, changing the requirements so they must partially pay for the room and actively look for work.

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