Vermont Legislature

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott stands on the steps of the Vermont Statehouse during a ceremony where he took the Oath of Office on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021 Montpelier, Vt. 

(The Center Square) – Vermont Gov. Phil Scott announced a $249 million Housing Recovery Plan this week that would provide funding for permanent housing for those experiencing homelessness.

“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,” Scott said in the news release announcing the plan. “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 governor, according to the release, is extending the General Assistance Emergency Housing Program through the end of the year.

The state Department for Children and Families, according to the release, is currently assisting 950 homes, including 1,100 adults and 402 children, as of Oct. 14, and has provided emergency housing for 2,500 annually.

The emergency housing program is serving some of the state’s most vulnerable populations, including those with disabilities, households facing chronic housing instability, and families with children, while, according to the release, permanent housing solutions are necessary.

According to the release, Scott is calling for the Legislature to approve $179 million in American Recovery Plan Act funds earmarked for affordable housing projects, while the housing recovery work group meets on a biweekly basis.

The Department of Children and Families, according to the release, is currently working on transportation needs for the homeless population with $300,000 available through December, and is expecting an additional $600,000 is needed through fiscal 2022.

The governor’s plan also calls for safe exits from the assistance program, according to the release, allowing participants to stay in place while transitioning into the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Under the program, tenants would reapply for funding every three months to the Department of Children and Families to cover 100% of the rent.

The plan also calls for sustaining the rapid housing initiative beyond the Coronavirus Relief Fund expiration, according to the release, which has provided nearly 600 households funds to address barriers and increase housing options. The department is anticipating an additional $500,000 is needed to maintain the program.

Under the plan, a Rental Risk Mitigation Program would be funded to provide “landlords and motels with an incentive and added security to work with tenants” who receive rental subsidies. The department anticipates a need of $1.512 million to establish that program that could support up to $5,000 in qualifying damages caused by a tenant to be reimbursed.

The governor’s plan also calls for an increase in capacity at emergency shelters, according to the release.

Associate Editor

Brent Addleman is an Associate Editor and a veteran journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He has served as editor of newspapers in Pennsylvania and Texas, and has also worked at newspapers in Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Kentucky.