Governor’s recovery task force releases initial recommendations

By: Mia Watson

Earlier this week, the Local Support and Community Action Team released its interim report with recommendations on how Vermont can begin its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The team is a part of the Economic Mitigation and Recovery Task Force charged by Governor Scott with identifying recovery initiatives and best practices. VHFA Executive Director Maura Collins is a member of the Action Team.

The Local Support and Community Action Team reached out to business and community leaders and the general public for input. Among the concerns that emerged include the recognition that retail, hospitality, tourism and vulnerable populations will be hardest hit by the crisis, the importance of high speed broadband access, a critical need for support of local food systems, and the importance of adaptability and communication as we respond to the crisis.  

The report emphasized six preliminary recommendations, including ending family homelessness, activating local food systems to feed Vermonters, supporting childcare and youth programming, restarting the Vermont Small Business Loan and Grant Program, implementing a statewide buy local challenge, and expanding broadband infrastructure.

Ending family homelessness is of key concern for VHFA and its housing partners. The state was able to respond quickly to the needs of homeless Vermonters at the start of the COVID outbreak, moving individuals from congregate shelters to hotel rooms and campers to reduce the risk of exposure. As the state recovers, the Action Team recommends that the State start with a focus on ending family homelessness, investing in the housing supply, rental assistance, and social services to stabilize families and prevent future homelessness.

The Local Support and Community Action Team will continue to develop strategies for recovery, including establishing quantitative recovery measures and metrics to assess Vermont’s progress.