State Government

Scott: State doesn’t require recipients to address root causes of homelessness

House spending committee seeks to extend emergency housing benefits through June

Tent erected in Vermont State House on Homelessness Awareness Day last month

By Guy Page

The House Appropriations Committee has recommended extending emergency housing benefits for another three months, from April – June. The allocation is included in the budget adjustment act now under consideration by the Legislature.

As the Legislature grapples with how much assistance to offer homeless people, and for how long, neither lawmakers nor the Scott administration seem intent on asking emergency housing assistance recipients to actively address (if possible) the root causes of their homeless status.

At present, the State of Vermont does not require people receiving emergency housing services to address the causes of their homelessness. Services are offered, but there’s no requirement they be accepted. 

That’s what Gov. Phil Scott said Tuesday, January 24 at a press conference when asked directly by Vermont Daily Chronicle.

The Legislature has been taking testimony on the causes and solutions for Vermont’s persistent homelessness issue.

Not all homelessness has a ‘root cause.’ Vermont suffers from an acute housing shortage. Many hard-working Vermonters simply can’t find available housing. It’s a huge issue, both in importance and in the sheer number of opinions about why people are homeless and how the State should help.

But here’s what we haven’t heard yet: whether people receiving emergency housing services are required to work on any challenges that resulted in their being homeless. 

According to House General testimony last week, reasons people need emergency housing include (but aren’t limited to):

– domestic abuse

– mental illness

– substance abuse 

– unemployment or underemployment 

– failure to pay rent

– eviction

– transition from incarceration

– inadequate housing supply.

Gov. Scott emphasized his administration offers people assistance in addressing individual’s reasons for homelessness. And he’s right. State social workers offer many assistance programs for the abused, mentally ill, and substance-abusing population. 

But require emergency housing recipients access these services? See video for his detailed answer, and apologies for the sketchy sound quality. But in a word: no. “I don’t know that we have any specific requirements,” Gov. Scott said. An administration official backed him up, saying that services are offered, but are not required.

Protecting abuse victims from lawsuits – The Vermont House Wednesday, February 1 gave initial approval to H45, protecting stalking and abuse survivors from abusive lawsuits.

Abusive litigation occurs when “the party who is filing, initiating, advancing, or continuing the litigation has been found by a court to have abused, stalked, or sexually assaulted the other party,” the bill says. It will be up for third and final reading today. 

Forestry operation expenses doubled last year – Randolph forester and former Dept. of Forest & Parks manager Sam Lincoln told the House Agriculture and Forestry Committee Wednesday his parts, repair and energy costs are all up over 100% in 2022.

“The profitability is elusive,” he said.

On the plus side, rising natural gas prices have increased demand for wood chips, he said.

Lincoln also laid to rest the myth that foresters are all about clearing virgin forest. In fact, most of his work involves managing forest that is in the Current Use program, which offers tax benefits in exchange for little or no development. 

Universal school meals? Ag committee member says no – During the pandemic, the Legislature funded school breakfast and lunch for all public school students, regardless of income. Like many pandemic measures assisted with federal funding, the Legislature is considering whether to maintain universal school meals with state revenue. 

Rep. Charles Wilson (R-Lyndon) says children in need must be fed, but universal school meals are not a good idea – not only for taxpayers, but in the long run, for the children themselves. Excerpts from a VDC interview yesterday:

“There is no such thing as a free meal. It’s teaching kids that you just come to school and get a meal, raising children with the idea that there’s free lunch. I mean, when it’s necessary, kids need to be fed. But it’s a parent’s responsibility. Everybody knows that there is no such thing as free lunch. Somebody is paying for that.”

Mayor will oppose Burlington civilian police oversight charter change – Mayor Miro Weinberger and local leaders from healthcare and service organizations, labor, and the local business community will hold a press conference at 1:45 pm Thursday, February 2 to express their concern and opposition of the proposed charter change on the Burlington Town Meeting Day Ballot that, if passed, would create a new independent department of the City for police oversight. If approved by voters, the charter change must be approved by the Legislature.

Non-citizen voting OKed by Vermont Supreme Court – Speaking of charter changes, the Montpelier and Winooski charter changes allowing non-citizen voting in municipal matters was allowed to stand by the Vermont State Supreme Court in a January 25 decision. 

Deer weighing stations in decline – Deer hunting in Lamoille County remain strong,  but it’s getting harder to to find a weighing station,  the January 19 News and Citizen reports. The rural county is down to one weighing station – the Cambridge Village Market.

The main problem is staffing. A state Fish & Wildlife official says many stores running weigh stations are Mom and Pop affairs paid about $1/deer. The proprietors often can’t go outside to weigh a deer if there’s a customer inside.

Weighing stations are declining statewide but Lamoille seems the hardest hit, the official said.

And BTW – the biggest buck taken last year was an eight point, 216-pounder in Hyde Park by Edward Friedeich, the News and Citizen reports. 

Categories: State Government

13 replies »

  1. That’s sort of like handing out unemployment checks to people without requiring they look for work. Oh wait, didn’t they do that?

  2. I believe it’s not easy to find a job when you don’t have any place to live. They need housing first, then help finding employment and for some medical assistance in getting off drugs. That would be the humane approach.

    • Mary, it might be difficult to find a job when homeless, but not impossible. You just need a phone, a mailing address, documents showing you are eligible for employment and the ability to look presentable.

      • I understand what you are saying, Lester. And I understand the other comments here about personal responsibility and the cost to tax payers already struggling in the weird/unjust economic system in Vermont. But having a home, i.e., affordable housing, must become a human right. It’s hard to look presentable when you’re living on the street.

      • Helping others is good yes, however helping with no accountability or requirements is counter productive; comes to mind “no skin in the game” is a bit cruel but….helps people to help selves which should be the goal. one of the major problems is the vastly increasing numbers of those we are helping….due to a variety of events; one being the border, both north and south…….we cannot “save everyone” ……

  3. There also needs to a “humane approach” to the plight of the working taxpayers…
    so benefits for housing and addiction treatment need to have time limits. There needs to be some level of demand for personal responsibility. The safety net has become a hammock and since the pandemic “emergency” programs, that hammock has become a feather mattress.

    • Personal Responsibility? Not in Vermont, mon ami. Not in Vermont.
      The concept of personal responsibility is directly opposes the concepts of liberalism and socialism.
      Liberalism and socialism has, for the foreseeable future overtaken Vermont society and politics. Vermont will collapse under the weight of the sheer volume of government, the insatiable appetite of tax dollars and the continued moral decay bringing crime and poverty to an ever increasing percentage of the population.
      We have ignored the lessons available to us from countries such as Venezuela, Cuba and soon Brazil and Canada and instead aspire to duplicate the folly of these failed nations. We look to California as a model of what Vermont could be, rushing to duplicate their errors and social problems, providing ever more programs and funding and assistance to keep those “down on their luck” from ever needing to use personal responsibility to get back on their feet. We collect taxes from those that do value personal responsibility, to increase the politician’s power and add to the rolls of those that do not choose to participate, while not properly helping those that want to.

  4. In mild weather I contend with “homeless” souls squatting on my river front, commercial property. From encounters learned most have willfully rejected all responsibilities in life. Preferring to marginally exist on charity. Encouraging them to move along isn’t difficult. The rare others I help best I can.

  5. All the reasons outlined are a direct result of the bad, failed policies set forth by the Administration, Legislature, and the bloated, inefficient bureaucracy over the past two decades. The acceleration came in March 2020 when coof hysteria closed businesses, shrunk the workforce, forced mandates, cratered the economy, and caused more health problems than “they” claim to have avoided. They locked and loaded the nuclear bomb and detenated it onto society. They are not done with the annihilation based on what is going on under the Golden Dome. They will not solve this problem or any problem. They only compound the problems pretending several million dollars of taxpayer money is necessary. Liars and deceivers.

  6. I came to VT and lived in a tent for 4 months until I saved up for a down payment and first months rent. Of course you cannot rent a 1 bedroom apt in Burlington for $500 anymore, so you’re gonna be out there a bit longer but it can be done…
    One thing I can tell you – never was homeless again after that and never left a job without another lined up.
    There’s certainly many challenges to housing security for folks, just don’t let it be your own laziness.

  7. SO? they are not required to help themselves? and yet I told I must continue to pay for them? Well? IF I refuse to pay, you cant make me pay, HUH?

    • As much as the leadership in Vermont has an irrational fear of guns and loathes the police, what they dislike even more is not having the revenue to fund their handout cornucopia. If you dont pay your taxes, men with guns WILL come to your house.