More than 540 Vermont households to lose emergency shelter benefits

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Community providers are asking Vermont to extend emergency housing in hotels for some of the homeless population, including people with health issues, domestic violence survivors and pregnant women, as they say about 543 households are likely to lose the benefit this week.

“To our knowledge, none of these households have been informed that the Department may be planning to provide them with checks for $2500 at some point.  And even if they end up receiving that money, there’s no place for them to go other than to stay in their motel rooms for a couple more weeks and then be left with nothing,” said Mairead C. O’Reilly, a staff attorney with Vermont Legal Aid.

Advocates are scheduled to hold a 3 p.m. press conference Monday at the Vermont Legal Aid offices in Montpelier to once again ask Gov. Phil Scott to extend the deadline past September 23. 

In July, the state extended the hotel voucher program 84 days for families with children, the disabled, pregnant women and other vulnerable people, and gave $2,500 checks to those no longer eligible. Families with children and some disabled households may be able to stay longer.

The groups sent a letter to the Vermont Department for Children and Families commissioner last week, asking the state to continue to provide the benefits to as many households as possible, in light of the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus and a lack of immediate additional shelter beds or rental units.

“The pandemic is not over, and FEMA funding will pay for motels until the end of the year, and there are motels that have space right now,” O’Reilly said. “We’re hearing from people whose health and safety will be put at serious risk without shelter.

An email was sent to the commissioner seeking comment.

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