Reducing the Number of Chronic Homeless

By Alex Rose

Published 09/04 2014 11:28PM

Updated 09/04 2014 11:47PM

Burlington, Vt.- It’s a problem that needs a solution. Assistant Director for Community Development Marcy Krumbine and CEDO have a plan.

“The idea would be to start to prioritize, and those that are the most needy as housing units and the funding for those units become available, they will be housed,” Krumbine said.

It's called a homeless registry. The goal is to bring in the area's homeless population and get them in the system.

“We will be using community members to go into the highways and bi-ways to meet our homeless neighbors, put a name and a face to them, and get to know what their health and housing needs are,” Krumbine said.

The homeless would be surveyed so the city could use a nationally recognized model called a vulnerability index.

Members of the community including the Executive Director of the Committee on Temporary Shelter, Rita Markley, think the questions may be too personal and believes the homeless have a right to privacy.

“We're concerned about some of the discussions we've heard lately about pushing forward with the housing first or homeless registry that we think is very invasive,” Markley said.

They want to identify the chronic homeless, which is defined by the federal government as "An unaccompanied homeless individual with a disabling condition who has either been continuously homeless for a year or more, or has at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years."

“If we're going to set a priority for where housing resources in this city are going, to direct one group over another, I would like a much better understanding for what the plan is for those families with children who are just hanging on,” Markley said.

The concern is that families aren't individuals and would be left out.

Regardless the numbers don't lie: the homeless population is on the rise in the Burlington area.

This year's point in time count showed there are 50 more homeless people in Chittenden County than last year.

While research still needs to be done, CEDO will be training community members in the coming weeks, and plan for a registry event in mid October.

This model isn't the first of its kind. It has seen success in Portland Maine, Seattle, and now Boston is beginning to implement a homeless registry.

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