Orleck: Hotels, bus tickets, jail cells don’t meet homeless Vermonters’ real needs

by Bob Orleck

Vermont has a critical homeless problem and there seems to be no adequate and financially sustainable solutions on the horizon.

It was not always so.

Bob Orleck

Many years ago, Vermont engaged in the movement toward community-based mental health services instead of properly maintaining their institutions such as the Vermont State Hospital and the Brandon Training School. For many of the residents of those facilities, those closings brought an abrupt loss of their home, and we will never know how many died as a result of those closures.

Now thirty or forty years later, it seems that the only solution we hear much about for the homeless, most of whom have mental health or drug abuse issues, is a stay at a hotel, bus tickets out of town or a prison cell. That’s what happens when you tear down institutions and have nothing that replaces the remedial and housing services they provided for those who are being turned out.

Such a non-caring approach to societal problems injured and destroyed many people. It has permeated all areas of our life today. The more outrageous and destructive an idea might be, the more it is embraced by the far left and the deceived of our state and nation.

From traditional family values to Christian faith, those things that our nation relied on to become the most wonderful place on earth, have now and are continually being torn down with devastating consequences. Drug addiction, suicide, mental health deterioration, crime and disrespect for life and values are beyond epidemic. Our nation is on the verge of collapse, but citizens carelessly ignore how bureaucrats and even elected leaders are leading them over the cliff.

There is “cause and effect”, and it should be obvious by now that the paths we are on will lead to destruction and death. Time is short. There must be a revival across our land. The false teaching and disregard for the way our God established this miracle of America is without doubt taking us down the same road that led to the end of many past civilizations. The Bible clearly describes our condition today in Proverbs 14:12. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

The author is a retired pharmacist and prosecutor.

Categories: Commentary

10 replies »

  1. The removal of mental institutions caused those who would have been admitted to run for office and now sit in power in the legislative branch, explains a lot though.

  2. This was really rich to read and is typical boilerplate of conservatives destroying public goods and then standing over them wondering who broke them. Since I have a longer memory then Bob, I will tell you that the reason that these institutions closed is because Conservatives didn’t want to pay for these services (or anything of public benefit), as part of Reagan-era deregulation. As a result, people that desperately needed mental health services suffered and the prisons, churches and communities were asked to pick up the slack. So Bob, since you are so passionate about the topic, why don’t you propose that we build new structures to replace the old ones that worked so well in your words?

    • Actually, Congress controls the nation’s spending- and while federal funding was drastically in the 1980’s when Reagan was President, democrat Tip O’Neill was Speaker of the House, leading the majority party.
      In the three plus decades since, Vermont thru its US representatives and Vermont’s legislature have had ample time to implement solutions to the problems of mental health- but here we are in 2023, with a super-majority legislature that can only pay lip-service to the mental health crisis- and substance abuse crisis plaguing Vermont.
      Adding to the current problems of homeless housing, is the plethora of benefits accorded to any that ask, as a result of the irresponsible federal and state legislation enacted in reaction to Covid-19, again with democrat majorities in Vermont and DC.
      Just how many people immigrated to Vermont from other states to take advantage of Vermont’s generous benefits? Maybe a bus ticket is part of the solution, the problem should not be laid at the feet of Vermont’s dwindling taxpayers.

      • Surprise, surprise…the jurisdictions which declared themselves sanctuaries and benefactors of the unhoused apparently were being disingenuous, doing it for the purposes of virtue signaling, specifically to make Trump look bad. They didn’t think anyone would actually take them up on their generous offer? The voters of Burlington deserve what they get, but unfortunately all the surrounding communities end up with the overflow of campsites, roadside panhandlers, junkies and street pharmacists as well.

      • Exactly correct, Vermont has become a home of vagrants. They have known for 3 yrs that this was a temporary program and instead of saving money to be prepared for when the free housing would end they did nothing to better their situation. God forbid they get a job.

    • Vermont has been progressive/ liberal run for decades so your blame game is incorrect.

  3. Why doesn’t the state use the old Windsor prison as a new place for homeless people. They own it and pay about a quarter of a million or more each year to maintain it. They could learn how to grow gardens in the summer!,

  4. Glad to see you waying in on this issue, Bob. Honestly this depicts both a need for cheap, safe, housing such as the Conestoga Huts that fill community lots and dot church parking lots in Oregon and mental health services and spiritual health services to help set homeless people free from the “demons” that often plague their existence, too. This site ( depicts units for under $3K that includes a Conestoga Unit that has a 4 year testing period withstanding Vermont winters to put it on a trailer and become an RV unit costs another $3K. If community groups with parking lots within walking distance of public transit would consider putting these units on their lots and allow access to bathrooms and electricity it could provide a lockable safe dwelling and access to a support group to help arrange for services that are needed.

    • More people would be on board with this suggestion if the support groups and other betterment services were MANDATORY for the housed clients, along with requiring time invested in maintenance activities. We already have enough taxpayer-financed flophouses