Baker: Something for nothing dehumanizes homeless people

Help with housing should come with strings attached

by Pam Baker

In her May 11 letter to the editor of VDC about the “crisis” of the homeless, Brenda Siegel of Newfane wrote: “In the past couple of months, nearly 200 people utilizing the program have written to their legislators as well as Senate Protem and Speaker of the House, telling their personal stories and pleading with them to treat their lives with the same value that they give their own values. I can’t imagine any other constituency who would be ignored in such an overt and overwhelming way.”  

I can. A huge constituency has been ignored in just such an “overt and overwhelming way: the thousands of voters who contacted their representatives about the “Affordable Heat Act,” to no avail.  Their representatives still voted to pass the measure.

Ms. Siegel then states that “people in power have a responsibility to treat the lives of fellow human beings with dignity.”  Where does it state that in the Vermont Constitution? 

She also claims that “10-30% of people experiencing unsheltered homeless will die as a result.” First, someone’s personal crisis is not the State’s responsibility.  The original plan was to house people to prevent the spread of the “pandemic.”  The program has to end sometime. 

I agree that a responsible transition should have been put in place.  So should an eligibility requirement…..  like, proof that your last address was one in Vermont.  A utility bill, anything with a legal address.  Not a PO Box. That’s the requirement to get a driver’s license or even a checking account. So why should it be any different to qualify for public assistance? According to the VSHA pre-application, there is no requirement for proof of Vermont residence.  Shouldn’t that be a priority?

Second, where does that statistic about people dying from experiencing unsheltered homelessness come from specifically?  I doubt its veracity. Cite your source. How did they determine that lacking shelter will result in their death?  I find that a suspicious statistic at best and a gross misrepresentation at worst. Just plain logic makes that statistic incoherent.  

She then goes on to state that Vermont has the “second highest rate of homelessness in the country”.  Technically that is correct but according to the website ““, the District of Columbia is the highest, followed by California and then Vermont.  Since the District isn’t a state, Ms. Seigel’s statement is technically factual.  

Do you wonder why we have the “second highest” rate per capita of homelessness in the country?  Truly?  I will tell you why I believe this is true is because quite a few MOVED here because of housing.  They are not Vermont residents.  

I know personally of a woman whose “boyfriend” moved her and her 3 small children here from CT in 2021.  Another single man lives in New Hampshire but wanted to spend the winter not couch surfing and not in a tent. He plans to return to Keene once the weather improves. Another couple literally moved here from the mid-Atlantic states because of the services. That is just a few of the people of whom I am personally aware. There are more that space and privacy don’t me allow me to cite. 

Ms. Seigel also claims our state government was perpetrating cruelty among “those who struggle the most with poverty.”

Struggle with poverty?  Many of the residents that I had been in contact with over the last 3 years had new smart phones -some had iPhones. Who paid for that?  

Many had new tattoo’s. Who paid for that?  

Many were using illicit drugs. Who paid for that?  

Where is all this money coming from? Wouldn’t a prudent person be saving their money for deposits, transportation, etc.?

Finally, Ms Seigel claims these families will have no place to go and “they will be exited (sic) to our downtowns, to our communities.”  Where do you think they were before the “pandemic”? Some didn’t even live here in Vermont.  Others were downtown in our communities panhandling and sleeping in the woods behind businesses or in empty buildings.  

I agree with Ms. Seigel that it feels very terrible to take something away from people.  That some folks have had a rough time of life.  But it is not our responsibility to pay for their housing for the remainder of their lives.  I agree a more robust exit program should have been put into place. 

When you give something to people and require no payback of any sort, you dehumanize them. You create an imbalanced relationship.  People must have a measure of responsibility and investment in their own lives.  A requirement for housing should have come “with strings attached”.  This would have provided a measure of dignity and a graduated approach to independence.  Instead, a knee jerk reaction to throw money at the problem just pushed the problem down the road.  Here’s an idea – how about we required three hours of supervised work for every night paid for by the State of Vermont?  Everything from maintaining the property they were living in to working with meals on wheels. 

When you take away people’s ability to be productive and provide for themselves, you enslave them in a backwards type of manner. You mustn’t just give things to people. You must require inputs from them. Time and labor.

Of course, there are many other factors in their homelessness… but actual housing is not the biggest priority. They lived someplace before they became homeless. How did they end up homeless? Solve that problem and the homeless part will resolve itself in all likelihood. 

This is a multifaceted and complicated social problem.  But people have to want to not be on the “dole” and that ship sailed a long time ago.  There is now a whole subculture of folks that can’t or don’t want to be responsible for themselves.  I have run in to this firsthand, many, many times in the last 10 years, and it has gotten much worse these last three years. 

Categories: Commentary, Housing

16 replies »

  1. We need a demographic profile of who the homeless are.
    the panhandlers make a good deal of money: if tips are taxed, these incomes from begging should be taxed. They are a form of tips.

  2. But this ISN’T something for nothing. The “Democrat” socialists and the “progressives” are benefitting hugely from giving away freebies at the taxpayer’s expense: votes, votes, and then there are votes. Migrants, illegal aliens, and homeless from out-of-state all play a role in the race toward socialism, and then Communism/Marxism not merely remaining but thriving in the Green Mountain state!!!

    • Exactly…that is the quid pro quo and their master plan…and they can do it while killing off the middle class through excessive taxation, so they figure it’s a win-win.

  3. Well said. Vermont built a generational, behemouth welfare system since the 1980’s. The most nauseating and maddening display is the bureaucrats, non-profits, NGO’s and elected officials standing at podiums pretending they care one iota the fate of any citizen residing in the State of Vermont. Their greatest achievements are lying, deceiving and stealing for decades, with impunity. Those who work for such agencies and co-conspirator companies sell their souls for a buck, thinking and believing they are doing the right thing. The great awakening, which they fear the most, is people are seeing the Truth. All the lies, deceptions, and lawfare-driven fraud. The grand collision of the Truth and their lies is happening in spectacular fashion. Keep calling it out and calling them down to the ground.

    • Here’s a challenge. Try to make a list of all the things you can buy or do in Vermont that the state doesn’t get a tax, fee or penalty from? Excluded are most foods and clothes. Okay, go!

  4. Good to see common sense in this crazy state we are in. Glad to hear you mention the welfare system which should have been set up for the people who worked but needed a hand up now and then, for a limited time. Now I see generations continuing on it that feel it is their right. The same goes for disability payments who live better than my husband and I, who have worked all our lives, with expensive homes, cars and all the playthings, that we did without to survive. We lived next door to some, years ago, who would set on their lawn in summer and wave and smile at us as we left for work. I guess that was their way to show their gratitude to us for helping to support them! Now this is commonplace and to many have the feeling of self entitlement, another wonderful thing our state has done to the working class!
    I called the state treasury, about six years ago, to see what the total of all the monies spent on free benefits was, they couldn’t, so I called the state auditor, and because there were so many at the time they couldn’t give me an answer either. It would be something for someone to find out since it is coming out of the working people’s wallets!

    • Well, we taxpayers finally got a look at the pricetag for just the free-motel-room-on- the-honor-system program and that put some reality on display. Those of us on the paying side of the equation have a right to know the price of:
      -free narcan
      -free school meals, regardless of ability to pay
      -all the “non profits” that are supported by taxpayers, providing social services
      -free needles, given away by the thousands through what they whimsically refer to as “exchanges”, and the cost of collecting and disposing of them after they are discarded inappropriately.

  5. So Ms.Baker, are you suggesting “something for something”? How radical !

  6. This without doubt is being done to create a biological foundation for Socialism, creating a population that can’t live without big government caring for them. Dumbing down the population and programming children to see the world and society through the lens of oppression, turning them into change activists in service of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Equity and DEI are UN SDGs. Equity by definition is the redistribution of wealth and resources to create more equal outcomes in UN member states and globally. They are brainwashing the public to adopt the view point that everything is a human right and that a basic level of resources should be provided for every human being to include housing, education, healthcare, food, income, social security and the list goes on.

  7. I think it’s time to return to the Poor farm or County farm whichever way you want to call it. People had a roof over their head and work to do to sustain themselves.

  8. Other programs in other states treat homelessness quite differently. With the programs I have worked in, 30% of income is set aside. This is returned to the person to be used as a down payment on housing.
    Participation in education on budgeting and available programs.
    For example, if someone had been in the program for three years, with a contribution of 30% on $800 of income, after three years, they would have @ $8,640 available for down payment.
    During pandemic times, most programs were shut down. These have been restarted, and there is a documented need for workers. Participation in a work trading program should be mandatory. Sheltered workshops or nursing home placement for those too disabled to participate. If you are too disabled to be taught how to answer a phone, then living outside on your own is inappropriate.
    I also would be interested in exactly how much money has been spent on this program. I would also be interested in the total calculated cost to rehab some of the forms in the VCFA. I know what their arguments are, but other places and states have overcome them.
    I totally agree that more guidelines need to be in place, especially the ones of residency for any state programs.

  9. Another example of putting people into a crisis (chaos) situation and then demanding the governement do something about the problem the government created. That is the government path to more power and more control over every aspect of your life. The government produces nothing but suffering. Wake up people there needs to be a change In Montpelier before we are all homeless.

  10. The fact that Vermont ranks so high on the per-capita scale of “unhoused” is precisely because of the broad and generous cornucopia of free stuff that someone is “entitled to” here simply based on an honor-system claim. Vermont has IMPORTED the bulk of our homeless when the word spread about what chumps the taxpayers (and voters) are here. The concept of basic shelter being a human right started out as communal shelters and bunkrooms and has graduated to free, long-term stays in a motel…a luxury that many working, taxpaying Vermonters cannot afford for recreation.

  11. Great article full of TRUE facts, great job 👍🎊👏🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 Especially about individuals really not being Vermont residents but moved here for the great benefits!

  12. I hope the governor reads VDC and the comments section. He obviously is protected from learning based on most of his actions. The commenters here are banned on most other news sites. If the Gov wished to learn the truth, he should be here reading for himself, but I doubt it.