New homeless center coming to St. Johnsbury

Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 6:11 PM EDT
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ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. (WCAX) - Experts estimate there are 150 people experiencing homelessness in the Northeast Kingdom right now, and that number is expected to grow. Because of the uptick, the town of St. Johnsbury and a few organizations are trying to make sure the unhoused have a place to go.

“Current situation -- living in a tent for the past five months. There’s actually like 20 tents down there,” said Alex Brown, who says he has been homeless for the last decade. He says a shelter -- would be welcome in the area. ”There are a couple more people that just took off. A couple that was just asking me about a shelter actually. They were wondering if there was one around. That would be great.”

Leaders at the affordable housing developer Rural Edge say they are in the works of purchasing an old church on Moose River Drive -- the Father’s House -- to convert into a 24-hour homeless shelter.

“We have a homeless population that needs resources,” said St.Johnsbury Town Manager Chad Whitehead. “When the warming shelter was operating, it was really beneficial. I mean, when someone is in need, they are usually vulnerable.”

The shelter would be staffed by Northeast Kingdom Community Action and is expected to have upwards of 20 beds. It’s located in a neighborhood near other homes owned by Rural Edge. “I think it’s how we make people feel comfortable with it. I think once they are aware of how it’s operated -- this is a fully staffed facility,” said Rural Edge’s Patrick Shattuck.

The group and the town hope that the shelter can be up and running by winter.

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