ICYMI: New Criteria Makes it Tougher for Homeless to Get Shelter

ABC 22 News ran a story last week on some of the impacts the new point system for emergency housing are having on folks who are homeless in Vermont.  A partial transcript of the report (watch online):

The faces and the stories are different, but their experiences have a common theme.

“All we’re trying to do is survive,” Troy Capen said, who has been homeless for six months…

And now, assistance comes in the form of points.

“If we don’t have enough money to serve everybody, shouldn’t we serve those who are the most needy?” Department for Children and Families Commissioner Dave Yacovone said.

4,000 Vermonters stayed in shelters last year. If those are full, homeless with more than four points are eligible for a hotel room. A person earns points based on their need.

For example – a child under 18 gets one point. If you’re recently discharged from the hospital or corrections, that’s also one point.  A hotel room is only automatic for families who lost their home to a catastrophe, like a fire, and for anyone over 65, a woman in her third trimester, the disabled and families with a child under six.

“Right now, with three months worth of data, we’re saying no approximately 50 percent of the time,” Commissioner Yacovone said.

For those without enough points, there is a cold weather exception. If it’s below 20, or below freezing with precipitation – anyone struggling financially can get a roof over their head. But one degree higher means Troy Capen and his wife, sleep outside.

“Am I going to wake up one of these days and she’s going to be gone?” Capen said.

To get people on their feet permanently, the Commissioner Yacovone says the state is investing three million a year on community housing grants.

That grant money will be used to help get people in need into long-term housing.

It’s 28 degrees right now in Burlington, so all of those guys will be sleeping outside tonight.

Watch the full report online here.

See also: Update on Emergency Housing Rules Changes