Strategies to combat homelessness in Vermont

By: Maura Collins

Citing three deaths of people who were homeless this winter, Governor Peter Shumlin re-instituted the Vermont Interagency Council on Homelessness (ICH) at a press conference yesterday. Angus Chaney, Agency of Human Services (AHS) Director of Housing, has been named chair and will work with the 22-member Council to:

  1. Develop a 10 year plan to end homelessness with annual targets for reducing the number of people who are homeless and plan for specific initiatives;
  2. Monitor and revise the 10 year plan as necessary; and
  3. Report to the Governor annually on the progress and necessary resource, policy and regulatory changes.

VHFA’s Executive Director Sarah Carpenter is again named to the Council, and has participated since its original inception in 2003. Additionally, according to the Governor’s press release:

  • “The Governor has asked AHS Secretary Doug Racine to adopt flexible eligibility criteria for this winter’s General Assistance Program during the harshest and most dangerous weather.
  • Earlier this month, the state launched the Vermont Rental Subsidy Program to help very low-income renters address the housing affordability gap by supporting part of their rent for 12 months. The program also offers case management support and participants work to increase their income through employment or by accessing benefits for which they are eligible. To support sustainability, the program includes an opportunity for some families to transition to federal Section 8 rental subsides - permanently affordable housing.
  • AHS is working to get an additional 100 housing vouchers that will help pay for both support services and rental costs for persons with mental illness.
  • AHS received an additional $1.7 million in general funds to support homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing programs through the General Assistance program. This funding will continue the important work begun with federal ARRA dollars from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.”

VHFA looks forward to working with the Governor and Angus in continuing our shared goal of ensuring all Vermonters have adequate, safe, decent and affordable housing.