10/18/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/18/2021 14:04
Plan addresses immediate needs, while prioritizing permanent housing as the long-term solution
Montpelier, Vt. - The Scott Administration today outlined a comprehensive plan to address the housing needs of Vermonters experiencing homelessness, including the need to fully fund Governor Scott's $249 million Housing Recovery Plan which includes historic funding for permanent housing for the homeless.
As part of this plan, Administration officials announced an extension to the current General Assistance (GA) Emergency Housing Program until December 31, and other meaningful actions to support Vermonters experiencing homelessness and permanent housing development.
"I appreciate the thoughtful work of our housing and human services experts to identify both short term supports to transition people into more sustainable housing options and a path for a long term solution that will provide permanent housing for those experiencing homelessness," said Governor Scott. "To make this plan a reality, we've proposed to the legislature historic investments in housing to help people move out of homelessness, benefiting them and their communities."
The proposal has been presented to legislators, and can be viewed below:
As of October 14, the Department for Children and Families (DCF) is serving 950 households, representing 1,100 adults and 402 children. Prior to the pandemic, the program provided emergency housing for roughly 2,500 Vermonters annually. Those in GA Emergency Housing currently are some of the most vulnerable, including Vermonters with disabilities, families with children, and households who have faced chronic housing instability. Demand for emergency housing and shelter is a symptom of Vermont's current housing crisis. Ultimately, permanent housing solutions, not simply emergency housing and shelters, are needed.
PROPOSED ACTIONS TO ADDRESS THE HOUSING CRISIS
Throughout the pandemic DCF and the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) have met and coordinated with towns and municipalities, first responders, homeless shelter/service providers, homeownership centers, affordable housing developers, community justice centers, designated agencies, public housing authorities, hospitals and health centers, advocates, private landlords and people with lived experiences. DCF and DHCD meet bi-weekly with VSHA, VHFA and VHCB as part of the housing recovery workgroup. More recently during this pause, the Departments have sought the input of stakeholders to propose the following actions to address the current housing crisis.
To be able to support the housing plan, we must fully fund Governor Scott's Housing Recovery Plan. On April 6, 2021, Governor Scott called for $249 million in capital funding for housing as part of his Economic Recovery and Revitalization Plan. To achieve this level of ARPA investment, the Legislature must release an additional $179 million in ARPA funding to help create affordable, permanent housing. It is important to send a strong signal that more funding is coming, so housing developers continue pre-development work to ensure projects will be ready as soon as possible.
Maintain the Safety Net
DCF is working with community organizations to create and coordinate transportation options for Vermonters unable to access emergency housing due to lack of transportation. DCF has $300,000 of CRF available for transportation needs through December 2021. DCF anticipates an additional need of $600,000 to continue transportation through SFY22.
Support Safe Exits from the General Assistance Program
The flexible funds provide one-time/short term financial assistance to help households exit to safe housing. Almost 600 households have used RRHI funds to address housing barriers and increase housing options. DCF anticipates an additional cost of $500,000 to maintain this assistance.
Expand Permanent Housing
Increase Emergency Shelter Capacity
While shelter capacity has increased above pre-COVID levels, more than 200 winter shelter beds have been lost. Motel capacity remains strained, with no capacity for GA clients in many districts regularly.
The Department for Children and Families and the Department of Housing and Community Development view the current crisis as an opportunity to shift towards housing crisis response system that can re-house Vermonters experiencing homelessness quickly and for the long term.
There is immediate and long-term work ahead and we look forward to implementing an emergency housing system that is sustainable past State Fiscal Year 2022.
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