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Pathways Appeals to Lawmakers to Help Keep Doors Open

Ken Hadlock has been in and out of prison for much of his life.
Ken Hadlock has been in and out of prison for much of his life. He was released from his most recent sentence Monday.

"I want to do good this time, I don't want to mess up," he said. For the past four years, he's had a place to call home, thanks to Pathways Vermont, a private, non-profit group that finds housing for former inmates--paying all or most of their rent.

"I'd probably be on the street right now," Hadlock said of what it would be like without Pathways.

"If people don't have a stable place to live, a place to call home, it's very difficult to be able to tackle other issues," explained Hilary Melton, Executive Director of Pathways. Some of those other issues include mental health and substance abuse problems. Many of Pathways' clients struggle with those issues, including Hadlock.

"Bipolar, Schizophrenia...PTSD," said Hadlock. He receives disability checks for those mental health problems, part of which he has to give to Pathways to help pay his rent.

Pathways takes a lot of clients other organizations like the HowardCenter or COTS turn away. They don't refuse anyone, which means many of their clients have complicated histories and would have nowhere else to turn if Pathways closed.

That's why staff appealed to the House Committee on Corrections and Institutions Friday. Melton says Pathways could soon lose half its funding.

"The federal government money, which is about $800,000 annualized, is running out in October of 2014," Melton said. She hopes the state will help plug the hole.

"There is a chance we could shut down," she said. That would be devastating to people like Ken Hadlock, and would put over 200 of Pathways' "Housing First" clients out on the street.

"It would really tear me down if they shut down," Hadlock said. "Because they're really good support."

Pathways also told the committee their organization saves the state money, because it gives beds to people who would otherwise resort to the emergency room or end up back in jail.
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