Federal money ‘drying up’ that was used to house homeless in hotels

On Tuesday, the Goddard College radio show “Gathering Peace” interviewed a city mayor and homeless shelter co-director to discuss Vermont’s imminent homeless crisis.

Guests to the show included Rick DeAngelis, co-director of Good Samaritan Haven shelter in Barre, along with Montpelier Mayor Jack McCullough, who also is an attorney with Vermont Legal Aid.

Michael Bielawski/TNR

HOMELESS IN BURLINGTON: The belongings of Burlington’s homeless population are increasingly visible in Battery Park and encampments around the city.

“Gathering Peace” radio show host Joseph Gainza began by laying out the homeless dilemma in Vermont and why it may soon grow out of control.

“It’s about to become a lot more serious than it has been,” Gainza said. “The state government has decided to withdraw financial support for homeless people, putting them up in hotels around the state with federal money drying up. The state says it cannot afford to house up to about 2,500 Vermonters.”

The current state budget proposal of $8.5 billion, now on the desk of Gov. Phil Scott, includes massive investments in green energy but lacks the funding for keeping homeless people off the streets.

According to McCullough, American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funds used to create an emergency housing program is going away, and now the state will have to provide new funding or see potentially thousands of homeless out on the streets.

city of Montpelier

Montpelier Mayor Jack McCullough

“The money they’ve used to create this emergency housing program, they did it very well to make this program when the pandemic struck,” he said. “They used federal government ARPA money to do that, and that money has essentially run out.”

McCullough added that while substantial state investments have been made in housing for the future, it seems those facing homelessness now “take second precedence over future housing.”

Current program costing $5,500 a month

DeAngelis commented that the program could be run better.

“We’re aware that it’s been an extremely expensive program and we’re not sure that we even like the model all that much of people living in hotel rooms which are poor quality,” he said.

DeAngelis added that the abrupt end of the funding will lead to a crisis.

“Here we are at a cliff literally of need and suffering — at the end of June, 800 people statewide are going to lose their eligibility,” he said. “… It’s a really terrible situation.”

DeAngelis noted that the cost of the program to house an individual is about $175 per night, which “works out to something in the vicinity of $5,500 [per month].”

Costs could still go up?

DeAngelis suggested that it could end up costing the state more if these newly homeless people end up in other state-funded programs, including for instance hospital stays.

“This ultimately could generate more costs for the state [because] these very vulnerable people will require other supports, either hospitals, police, emergency services,” he said.

Good Samaritan Haven has talked with hotel occupants about to lose their rooms, DeAngelis said, and found that some are looking for safe places to go next, and that others have the additional challenge of caring for children.

“Another said, ‘I would go to a shelter if there was room but I’m not good with crowds,” DeAngelis said.

He added that elderly and disabled people are “a very vulnerable population” and will not be able to camp.

Progressive lawmaker wrote about homelessness

State Rep. Brian Cina, P/D Burlington, was cited during the show as an advocate for additional support for homeless populations. On his Facebook page, Cina posted earlier this month that Vermont should address the crisis by building “housing for all.”

Vermont has the opportunity to lead the nation in our response to the housing crisis by building housing for all,” Cina wrote. “But instead Vermont policymakers may cause a humanitarian disaster that threatens to undermine our collective recovery by passing a budget that evicts more than 2,800 individuals from hotels to the streets.”

He continued: “At this moment in time, Vermont’s General Assembly must choose between mass unsheltered or housing for all. When we compare the costs versus benefits of this decision, the choice is clear.”

The Tuesday, May 23 program is archived here online.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Images courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR and city of Montpelier

13 thoughts on “Federal money ‘drying up’ that was used to house homeless in hotels

  1. Freebies weaken people and make them dependent. They must be taught that if you want something,
    expect to work for it and earn it.
    And our American youth need that lesson too so that they can become independent ,self-sufficient , productive citizens.
    Children who are lucky to have been taught those lessons are blessed.

  2. First off we need to stop giving to people that aren’t Vermonters you have people that come from all over and not all of them are good people they are drug dealers we have ruined our state with these people they get into our system and get all the handouts I do believe we should take care or family’s let’s get them to start working instead of giving them money to do what they want to do with it These programs need to be cleaned up Accountability is needed!! We can’t just keep Giving People have to help themselves I Understand we have people with Mental issues some don’t want to be helped but we still do it’s a sad situation all around But we need to stop handing money out

  3. Insane money expenditures. It’s an easy solution, all the legal gors can lead by inviting the homeless into their homes. At that point, and only then will we find some logical solutions to address the problems, it is a much deeper problem than finding shelter, to which they have not addressed any of the underlining fundamentals and instead used a failed, ideology of big city solutions, the same ones that ruined the lives of our brothers and sisters found in urban neighborhoods.

    We’re getting the same results, ghetto hotels to be replaced with new ghettos. It’s free they say, and then suddenly you are trapped, a ward of the state where the VERMONT system gets rich off keeping you poor.

    It was never the VERMONT way, we don’t need to import failed ideology to the green mountains, life is hard enough.

  4. “Vermont has the opportunity to lead the nation in our response to the housing crisis by building housing for all,” Cina wrote.
    Can anyone else hear the stampede of footsteps to come to Vermont to take advantage of the “housing for all”??? If you build it, they will come. That’s why there are so many currently taking advantage the soon-to-be-curtailed free motel program. People heard about it, and hey, who wouldn’t want to come to Vermont if promised a free long-term stay in a hotel room, with the basis for need completely on the honor system? The opposite of “if you build it, they will come” is: “if you shut it down, they will leave”.

    • The people running the program are making insane money everywhere up and down the system, so of course they want to expand it! Renting a room for $5,500 per month, that’s a New York penthouse rate!

      Yeah our homeless are paying a higher rent than living in Trump Towers, let that sink in. Yet across the state you only hear they are going to stop the program, we ust continue! Oh the horror!

      The horror is spending money the way they do. The propaganda is so deep and complete inVermont that nobody gets it.

      Start telling the truth about how Vermont could be housing our homeless in Trump Towers for less money and see how quickly you get banned on Front Porch Forum!

      Marxists love propaganda and state controlled media.

      • $5,500 x 12 months = $66,000 per person for renting a single room!

        You can rent a slope side condo in Stowe for less!
        You could rent a house on the lake for less.
        You could rent most any house in Vermont for less!

        This is the insanity that CIna and others want to keep going.

        This is only the tip of the iceberg, VERMONT spending is utterly INSANE!
        It’s everywhere!

        Wouldn’t that pay an $800,000 mortgage at the high rate of 7% interest?

        That is how insane things have gotten in Vermont!

        We are housing homeless at the same expense as paying for an $800,000 house mortgage, and getting only one room for it!

        Trust, post this stuff,mthe truth in any other commentary across the state and you’ll be quickly banned. Ask me how I know.

  5. Charter buses to San Diego, where it’s nice & warm, and the State will give the homeless everything they need – as long as they aren’t veterans.

  6. Do I detect a faint, but growing sense of panic among the liberals and RINOs who are about reap what they sowed? They haven’t seen the full influx of “new arrivals” about to be bussed and flown in from the liberal sanctuary cities who are in full panic mode. The consequences of their failed policies and TDS is about to hit their doorsteps, bigly! The voter block that had no college loan payments for three years are about to be hit between the eyes too. Yep, the boomerang cometh like a freight train. Good luck and get prepared!

  7. “We’re aware that it’s been an extremely expensive program and we’re not sure that we even like the model all that much of people living in hotel rooms which are poor quality,” D’Angelis said. Does this guy want them to be moved to the Dorset Inn? Or maybe the Woodstock Inn? Make sure room service is available and keep that pool nice and warm. The fact that Vermont doesn’t have a real homeless shelter with an accompanying program is ridiculous… oh, wait, solar panels are more important. Sorry.

  8. Maybe it’s time to bring back the commune farms where they can make or grow things to sell to support themselves. We can put burnie in charge of weeding out the lazy bums since that was his role at one. They would be sent to a work farm where they get fed when they complete their job.

  9. This is a great example of why you don’t just hand out money to people, they get too used to it and don’t do anything to better themselves and it’s really difficult to stop the handouts once started. I guess some folks will simply have to get up and go to work like the rest of us. Oh well, it’s a tough world out there. Stop doing drugs and drinking too much and you might find that living a normal life can be pretty awesome.

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