Category Archives: Emergency Housing

REMINDER: Homelessness Awareness Day & Memorial Vigil – Jan 10, State House, Montpelier

HOMELESSNESS AWARENESS DAY & MEMORIAL VIGIL

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 10, 2018

STATE HOUSE, MONTPELIER

Your voice is needed at the State Capitol! Come to Montpelier to tell lawmakers how we can end homelessness in Vermont! Join advocates from all across the state at Homelessness Awareness Day at the State House.  We need you to engage with representatives and senators in your service area to let them know what is needed to make homelessness a brief and infrequent experience in our state. PLEASE JOIN US!

REVISED SCHEDULE

7:30 – 9:00        Coffee, muffins & meetings with legislators, Cafeteria (best time to meet with lawmakers)

7:30 – 3:00        Legislative Awareness Day (meet & greet lawmakers), Card Room

9:00 – 11:00      Joint hearing of House Human Services and General, Housing & Military Affairs Committees – Room 11

11:00 – 11:30     Senate Economic Development, Housing & General Affairs Committee – Room 27

12:00 – 12:30    Memorial Vigil, State House Steps

1:00 – 1:30        Reading of Legislative Resolution & Recognition of Homeless Service Providers & Advocates, House Gallery

1:30 – 2:30        Public Hearing on the Governor’s Recommended FY 2018 Budget Adjustment, House Appropriations Committee – Room 10

OUR MESSAGE

  • We thank Governor Scott and lawmakers for supporting all the state resources needed to help reduce homelessness, especially the $35 million housing bond, which is a *major* step forward.
  • Please continue to support the investments we need to solve our affordable housing shortage and implement the recommendations of the “Roadmap to End Homelessness,” investments that will:
    1. Create new affordable homes for Vermonters,
    2. Provide rental assistance and other financial supports to fill the gap between our high rents and what low-income Vermonters can afford, and
    3. Deliver supportive services needed for Vermonters with the greatest challenges to remain stably housed.
  • Vermont has successful programs that deliver proven outcomes. Please continue to support full funding for the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, and increased investments in the Vermont Rental Subsidy Program, Mental Health Rental Assistance Vouchers, Family Supportive Housing, Housing Opportunity Grant Program, Corrections Transitional Housing, and Housing First.

OVERVIEW

The day will kick off early at 7:30am with coffee and muffins in the Cafeteria. This will be a great time to meet with your representatives and senators to discuss the good work you and your organization are doing.  To make your time at the State House most effective, please be sure to reach out to lawmakers prior to the event to ask them to meet with you.

People will be present in the Card Room all morning and into the afternoon to educate lawmakers about the work being done around the state, about which strategies are working, and what still needs to be done to help end homelessness in Vermont. The Card Room is on the 2nd floor, on the way into the cafeteria.

From 9-11am there will be a joint hearing of the House General, Housing & Military Affairs and House Human Services Committees in Room 11, with many witnesses from the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness and the Chittenden Homeless Alliance scheduled to speak. Click here for the schedule of witnesses.

From 11-11:30am there will be additional testimony on homelessness in the Senate Economic Development, Housing & General Affairs Committee. You may also be interested to sit in on testimony in this committee from several key housing agency heads (DHCD, VHCB, VHFA) starting at 9am. Click here for the schedule of witnesses.

At Noon community members, elected officials, and advocates will gather on the State House steps for the annual Memorial Vigil to remember our friends and neighbors who have died without homes, and to bring awareness of the struggles of those still searching for safe, affordable and secure housing.

At 1:00pm, please be seated in the House Visitor’s Gallery at the rear of the House Chamber to hear the reading of a resolution recognizing those experiencing homelessness and the good work you do to help reduce their plight.

**ALERT** At 1:30pm the House Appropriations Committee will hold a Public Hearing on the Governor’s Recommended FY 2018 Budget Adjustment in Room 10.  DCF has proposed a $200,000 cut to the highly successful Vermont Rental Subsidy Program.  Please contact committee staff person Theresa Utton-Jerman at tutton@leg.state.vt.us or 802-828-5767 to speak against this cut.  Please also support DCF’s request to increase the Emergency Housing budget by $871,000.  Click here for more information, or contact Erhard Mahnke at erhardm@vtaffordablehousing.org or 233-2902.

TIPS FOR MAKING HOMELESSNESS AWARENESS DAY A SUCCESS

Strong Turn-Out Will Be Key – It is essential that we create a strong presence in the State House. Bring folks from your organization: board members, clients, staff, and local supporters. A strong show of support will be particularly important for the Memorial Vigil at 12 noon outside, on the State House steps, and also at 1pm in the House Chamber when your work will be recognized by the entire body.

Meetings with Lawmakers – Quality interactions with representatives and senators from your service area are critical to the day’s success. One-on-one or small group meetings are the best way to get our message across. To guarantee the most effective use of your time, please make appointments in advance, if possible. If you haven’t done so already, please CALL or EMAIL as soon as possible. Breakfast and after the Vigil at lunch are the best times to schedule your meetings.

How to Contact Your Representatives & Senators – Send them an email or call the Sergeant-at-Arms desk at 1-800-322-5616 and leave a message. Let them know that you’ll be at the State House this Wednesday and would like to meet. Their contact information is in the legislative directory.  If you can’t get an appointment ahead of time, let them know when you’ll be at the State House. If you can’t find them when you arrive, you can send a note via a legislative page. Be sure to note where you are in the State House.

An Exciting Day is Planned – Governor Phil Scott, Lt. Governor David Zuckerman, House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, Human Services Secretary Al Gobeille, and the chairs of key legislative committees, Reps. Helen Head and Ann Pugh and Senator Michael Sirotkin, are all confirmed to speak at the Vigil.  And there are numerous committee meetings for you to sit in on.

Sign in and get a nametag when you arrive – They will be available in the Card Room (second floor, on the way into the cafeteria). Legislators appreciate name tags with your name, your organization and the town you vote in.

Parking – Is always a challenge in Montpelier. You can try on-street parking wherever you can find it. Other options include the Capitol Plaza lot off State Street, the Department of Labor parking lot on Green Mountain Drive (second left after you come off the interstate, just past the first traffic light). Also, the Capitol Shuttle runs every 20 minutes from 7:20 am – 5:20 pm. Do not park in areas designated for legislative parking – you will be towed!

*   *   *   *   *

**A FINAL NOTE** The monthly Affordable Housing Coalition meeting normally scheduled for this Wednesday has been rescheduled for Wednesday, January 24, 9:30 – 12:00, at the Vermont Center for Independent Living, 11 East State Street.  The meeting time has been extended to include a special legislative advocacy training by Matt Levin of the Vermont Early Childhood Alliance.

Thanks for your help and cooperation and see you at the State House on Wednesday!

Joshua Davis
Groundworks Collaborative
Co-Chair, VT Coalition to End Homelessness
jdavis@groundworksVT.org

Peter Kellerman
John Graham Housing & Services
Co-Chair, VT Coalition to End Homelessness
peter@johngrahamshelter.org

Erhard Mahnke
Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition
erhardm@vtaffordablehousing.org

OEO Awards New Emergency Housing Alternatives Grant to SEVCA and Groundworks Collaborative

BRATTLEBORO – The Vermont Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), a division of the Department of Children and Families (DCF), recently awarded a total of $48,228 to Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) and Groundworks Collaborative. The grants are to fund two unique approaches to bolster capacity to serve homeless families and individuals in the Brattleboro Agency of Human Services (AHS) district, which includes most of Windham County. These awards were part of a statewide effort to develop community-based solutions to meet emergency housing needs, with nearly $800,000 granted to 11 organizations.

In a press release announcing the awards, DCF Commissioner Ken Schatz said, “The demand for emergency housing has increased substantially over the past few years, while the cost of putting people up in motels has become increasingly unsustainable. We are working with our community partners to come up with more effective ways to meet the needs of homeless individuals and families.”

A grant of $21,328 was awarded to SEVCA to fund a case manager through June 30th to work with people housed in area motels, with the goal of helping them locate more appropriate short-term shelter and, ultimately, permanent housing. Groundworks Collaborative was awarded $26,900 to master lease three 2-bedroom apartments that will provide short-term transitional housing for homeless families with children. (Master leasing allows Groundworks to hold the lease and move eligible families in and out every 30 – 60 days, as informed by their situation.) The two organizations developed proposals to OEO stemming from discussions within the Brattleboro Continuum of Care, a local collaboration between state agencies and service providers focused on effectively assisting families and individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

“We are always looking for opportunities to provide more intensive, comprehensive services to homeless and at-risk households,” said Pat Burke, SEVCA’s Family Services Director. “Those housed in area motels are in some of the most difficult situations, and they can be hard to reach, so we welcome these extra resources to help get them into decent housing as quickly as possible.”

“Vermont has been in real need of alternative solutions to the General Assistance motel voucher program, and based on our successes with the master leasing model, we are confident that providing temporary housing is a good alternative to motels,” said Josh Davis, Executive Director of Groundworks Collaborative. “Master leasing will allow us to provide a better living situation than a motel room at a cost savings to the State.”

After the initial four-month grant, which runs through the end of the state’s fiscal year (June 30th), OEO will consider a continuation into its next fiscal year, contingent on the level of success and availability of funding.

Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) was established in 1965 as part of the national War on Poverty and has worked to address the needs of low-income residents of Windham and Windsor Counties for over 50 years. In addition to providing the “safety net” for households in financial crisis, its services help them stabilize their lives, make their homes safe and energy-efficient, take strides toward becoming self-reliant, and enable their children to escape the generational poverty cycle. These goals are achieved through such programs as Family Services, Crisis Fuel, Housing Services, 3SquaresVT (food stamp) Outreach, Weatherization, Home Repair, Small Business Assistance, Financial Fitness Education, Matched Savings Accounts, Job Readiness, Tax Preparation Assistance, Thrift Stores, VT Health Connect Navigator, and Head Start.

Groundworks Collaborative was established in 2015 as a result of the merger of two well-established organizations: the Brattleboro Area Drop In Center and Morningside Shelter. Groundworks mission is to provide ongoing support to families and individuals facing a full continuum of housing and food insecurities in the greater Brattleboro area. Groundworks’ programs include: Groundworks Food Shelf, Groundworks Shelter (formerly Morningside Shelter), Brattleboro’s Seasonal Overflow Shelter at the First Baptist Church, Groundworks Drop In Center and Day Shelter, Housing Case Management, and the Representative Payee program.

Board Gives the Nod to New Shelter

The Development Review Board in Brattleboro approved Groundworks Collaborative‘s application for the use of a new location for an emergency overnight shelter, which is set to open this November. Below is an excerpt of an article from The Commons with further details on this project and what lies ahead:

Despite the warmth of this summer, the staff of Groundworks Collaborative have the cold days of winter on their minds.

In November, the organization, which serves the area’s homeless population, will open its winter emergency night shelter. Come this November, however, the emergency shelter’s traditional location, the First Baptist Church on Main Street, may not be available.

To avoid leaving an average of 25 people out in the cold Vermont winter, Groundworks has sought a new location for the emergency shelter.

At its Aug. 24 meeting, the town’s Development Review Board (DRB) approved Groundworks’ application for a change of use permit at 39 Frost St.

Conditions to the permit included no construction in the special flood hazard area, adding a bike rack, and meeting fire safety conditions such as installing a sprinkler system.

The organization plans to retrofit the former auto body shop in time for the November opening of the emergency winter overflow shelter.

According to staff at Groundworks, the Frost Street site could meet short- and long-term needs.

In the short term, the property would serve as the emergency shelter.

In the long term, it may house the emergency shelter, moving the Drop-In Center from South Main Street; hold the food shelf; and provide space for case managers and administration offices.

To continue reading the article, click here.