Opinion

Teen will sleep outside State House until Guv commits to housing homeless

Brenda Siegel during her first night sleeping on the State House steps in protest

To the editor:

My name is Abigail Lanfear and I am 15 years old.  Last night, Josh Lisenby  and Brenda Siegel slept out on the Statehouse steps to push the Governor to take the following actions: 

1. Accept the Federal Funding For Emergency Motels
2. Fully reinstate the GA Motel Program, including people who have already been exited and are currently without shelter until everyone can be safely and consistently housed. 
3. Eliminate the arbitrary and out dated 84 day limit on emergency motels
4. Cease asking our most vulnerable neighbors to trade their shelter for money. 

This afternoon at 4, youth will be joining them to protest and sleep out. We believe that the Governor’s claim that he is extending the program is not enough: He needs to fully reinstate the program for the 1000 people who were kicked out in July. He needs to make sure this is not just an extension, but that it is a longer-term reinstatement that lasts more than 30 or 60 days. It needs to last until federal money times out. 

We will not stop until real action is taken. Youth are standing up and speaking out to make sure Vermonters are safely housed.

Abigail Lanfear

Categories: Opinion

5 replies »

  1. “Camping out” on the State House steps ? While I was a Security Officer for the Department of Buildings, and General Services in Mount Peculiar that was against BGS policies, and was strictly enforced. Protesters, drunks, druggies, homeless, it did not matter, they had to find someplace to rest their weary minds off of state property. We would try, and often did help them, but in the end, they exercised their own choices. I’m so glad I retired when I did…….

  2. Open letter to Abigail:
    -When you grow up and (hopefully) earn your own way in the world and pay taxes, then you will
    have some clout and credibility to decide how everyone else’s tax dollars get spent.
    -providing BASIC shelter to those who honestly cant afford it is the way of a compassionate society,
    HOWEVER providing private hotel rooms with no supervision has resulted in a disproportionate
    number of overdose deaths and tends to congregate people with serious substance abuse
    problems burdening nearby businesses and residents with criminal activity. For many working
    Vermonters, a hotel room is an un-affordable luxury.
    -The pandemic is winding down and it is time for this special program to come to an end. Just
    because the taxpayers have provided this special service in these unusual times and
    circumstances, does not mean ‚Äčit has to go on in perpetuity.
    -Vermont is a VERY generous welfare state. By filling out some forms, everyone is provided with
    some level of financial resources, some with no strings attached on how they are spent. Just
    because someone decides to spend what resources they have on mind altering substances, does
    not mean that all their other necessities automatically become a “human right”.

  3. All those things you suggest do NOT do one thing to solve the problem. Merely generates more of the same and probably, since we will be recognized as communities providing all these free services, those used to living off the dole, will be “drawn as a bee to honey” and even more crowds will be will increase over previous years. Millions of hardworking citizens’ tax dollars will be invested in their care instead of solving the problems of “so called homeless”. One thing, require regular attendance at jobs. Eliminate all temporary housing structures, enforce with police patrols. (Yes, bring back the police) Just look at what has happened to areas in Southern California, for example. This situation has been permitted to exist so all roads lead to where that life style is permitted. , All the things most people have to work and be responsible for, like food, clothing and shelter for their families. You youngsters are right to be concerned but why not put your efforts into solving the situation rather than just allowing it to continue,,,,,,, at public expense! I personally would resist funds being spent to perpetuate this behavior. It is a lot easier to demand state and federal cash then to get out, face the problem, and REALLY DO SOMETHING!!! We all look forward to your solutions!! Start by finding a regularly scheduled job for every one of the people you are concerned with. That should be what us old folks call “an eye opener”. Another suggestion is, Get a job yourself and donate your pay to your cause. Be almost like paying taxes!

  4. Neighbors to “trade” their shelter for money???????????????

    It’s called: RENT or a MORTGAGE: What the vast majority of people do EVERYWHERE.

    And no, neither you or anyone else is ENTITLED to that.

    I know you’re a kid and all, but you need to grow up.

  5. I don’t think that you have any right to tell working tax paying Vermonters how they should spend their money when you and your friends are clearly too young to be taxpayers. I’m sure that “housing the homeless” feels good to your liberal heart. And it’s not that I want to see people living outdoors in the winter here. But in truth, many of those who are now ‘homeless” in VT are not even from here;; ‘build it and they will come” applies just as well to providing free stuff for the homeless. The word is out and they are flocking here.

    There are jobs available all over the place now; absolutely no reason for people to be hanging out all day panhandling.

    We DO need more mental health and substance abuse treatment programs as most of the long-term homeless suffer from these issues. And we do need more affordable housing for the working class; anyone who works should be able to afford a place to live. These are both serious issues that need attention.

    Continuing to fill our motels up with the homeless is not a solution. It concentrates the problem wherever the motels are, requiring services from the police and ambulances. It removes affordable places to stay from tourists and others who would actually come to VT and spend money.

    I think that many of us could never afford to live in a motel ourselves, getting free meals, internet etc; we sure don’t want to pay for others to get this who don’t even try to work for it!

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