As most people are excited about getting back to normal, it’s the opposite for Vermonters experiencing homelessness. Many are seeing a halt in services with the rolling back of the state’s motel housing program.
“This program was not perfect, it had its flaws,” said Addie Lentzner. “But it kept people stably housed and it temporarily ended homelessness in Vermont.”
Tuesday morning, young people, state representatives and people without stable housing met to outline solutions to the housing crisis. They’re calling on Governor Phil Scott to take 3 specific actions– extend the motel program, continue the moratorium on evictions, and keep extended food resource benefits in place. On July 1st, people without children, a disability, or of old age, were pushed out of the rooms and given a $2500 check for assistance.
“We can wrap around those individuals and find better options for them than camping, than turning back to drugs, than turning back to abusive situations,” said Sen. Kesha Ram. “We have the means and we have the ability.”
Homeless Vermonters say when they have secure housing, it provides a basis to meet their other needs.
“Started to kind of get my life in order, I came out of my depression,” said Josh Lisenby. “I was ready to change my life and do different things. I started setting up different doctors appointments, dentist apts, eye glasses apts.”
Advocates say the governor has not been receptive to their demands.
“He seems to feel it’s okay to put people on the street because this is a band-aid and we don’t have a permanent solution,” said Brenda Siegel. “And because there’s demand from tourists for the hotels, as well.”