State Government

Funding door closes on homeless hotels

Homeless housing advocate Brenda Siegel (in window seat at left) listens as the budget conference committee decides Wednesday to end the homeless hotel program. Page photo

By Guy Page

The state’s ‘homeless hotel’ emergency housing funding will end as planned on July 1, the conference committee selected to resolve House and Senate budget differences decided Wednesday afternoon. 

The decision was one of dozens that have been made or will need to be made by the committee led by Sen. Appropriations Chair Jane Kitchel and House Appropriations Chair Diane Lanpher. Their job is to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the $8 billion-plus 2023-24 budget in a way addresses their members’ spending priorities, hopefully without incurring a veto by Gov. Phil Scott. 

House conference committee member Theresa Wood, chair of Human Services, asked the committee to look at the big picture of housing the needy. “One of the things that I think is really important for us to keep in mind is that the needs of people are diverse,” Wood said. “And so our approach needs to be diverse. There’s not going to be a single silver bullet that solves this problem.”

The committee’s housing spending plan is certainly diverse. $10 million for the Department of Children and Families’ Housing Opportunity Program. $26.4 million for winter emergency housing. $16.7 million to maintain and expand shelters. $.8 million for recovery housing, a half million for youth independent living stipends, $6.4 million for transitional housing from prison, $17 million for more nursing home funding – and more. 

But the state’s failure to extend homeless emergency housing left housing advocate Brenda Siegel “disgusted.” Shaking her head quietly as Wood explained the committee’s spending priorities, she unloaded on them in the hallway afterwards.

“It’s an abject failure of our state government to protect the most vulnerable people,” Siegel said. “It will leave 1800 households, 2800 individuals, including 500 to 600 children to potentially end up on the street. And of that, according to data, 10% to 30% of those people will die. So that’s 300 to 700 of those people. 

“So this is an abject failure of our state government, in the worst way, to prevent a humanitarian crisis and the worst thing I have ever seen this legislature do.” 

What should they have done?, Siegel was asked. “They should have put the money where it’s needed. I’ve worked with the hotel owners to renegotiate the price. They should have put the money in.” 

How much would that be?, Siegel was asked. “It would be a total of $50 million, so $24 million more than they had in the $8.5 billion budget to protect the people who have the least among us. That is not too much to ask to protect people that have the least. This is who we have decided to be, and it is disgusting.”

The headline for this news story says the door is closed, but it hasn’t been locked and barred. Rep. Mari Cordes (D-Lincoln) and other progressive/Democrat lawmakers are working on supporting Gov. Scott’s budget veto (if it happens) unless the homeless hotel money is added back into the budget. 

Homeless hotel residents without special needs and conditions must vacate by June 1. All residents must vacate by July 1.

Categories: State Government

7 replies »

  1. This us the only good news from the legislature I’ve heard this year. There are tons of jobs, let’s get back to work.

  2. I couldn’t help showing my students this semester a video, that explained the success in Finland, where homeless residents of the country were given an apartment, supported by the government, to work on issues such as mental health and addiction problems. From there, they would find work, and begin to pay a certain amount of rent depending upon their income and necessities needed to sustain themselves. It is difficult for people to work, if they don’t have a place to call their own. If Finland can do it, why can’t we in Rutland and in the rest of the country take care of “the least among [us]you? “.

    • Finland has a population of approximately five million with enforced national borders. The USA has a population of over 350 million with illegally open borders and millions of indigent, unskilled, unvetted people pouring in with little to no intention of assimilating into this nation but with the intent to live solely through the social service programs available and outlined by President Joe Biden and some entering with illegal drugs and creating chaos through drug abuse, addiction, and dealing in these dangerous substances. Insofar as speaking through your personal contorted version of “scripture” – Romans 13 :1 – 7 makes it clear that citizens are expected to obey the laws of our land. There is nothing in scripture that prohibits or condemns a country from having borders and borders were a part of life during the time that Jesus walked the earth as well. St Paul as well as other passages in various books instruct us to obey laws and gives nations/leaders the right to PUNISH lawbreakers. We remain a nation of laws and our civil society was formed and relies upon the rule of law.

  3. One of the “special needs and conditions” required to stay in a taxpayer-funded hotel should be the absence of a criminal record. The crime in the neighborhoods surrounding these motels and former motels that have been purchased by private groups with taxpayer funds is out of control.

  4. July 1st is just the first day the hotels can begin the eviction process. This is far from over. Lawsuits, big lefty billfolds will pay for it all. The landlords will only begin to recover and rebuild the rooms once they are fully out. That could take months, years.

  5. I was one of the first hired in the 1980’s as a “service coordinator”. I sat with each shelter resident every day to discuss what they needed and how they would achieve their goals. Income, housing, family doctor… Always different for each.
    Main Goal: Get on your own two feet with a job and then obtain housing.
    What’s going on today is quite different. Homelessness has been declared by The Mighty Government to be the ultimate reason to give up. Don’t work. Don’t have plans or goals. And don’t be an American.
    Let’s face it. Vermont is California TWO POINT OH.