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Brattleboro Winter Shelter Opens Early Due To High Demand

Last week Brattleboro’s winter shelter opened early due to increased demand.  VPR has the details:

Officials say the demand for overnight shelter has increased because of federal budget cuts that disproportionately affect the poor.

When the Brattleboro Area Drop In center opens at eight each morning Lucie Fortier often finds a crowd of people lined up outside.

“We probably have ten people out there, waiting to come in and get warmed up and have coffee,” she says.

Fortier, who directs the daytime shelter, says it’s been that way all fall.

“A lot of them are sleeping along the river bank, some are camping under the bridges, she says. “Our people need to have a safe place to sleep”

The Drop In Center also sponsors the overnight winter shelter in the Baptist Church on Main Street. The service is funded by donations and a state grant. It’s run by volunteers, social service agencies and the local interfaith clergy group.

This year everyone agreed that the service was needed before the scheduled opening on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

“The demand is just there,” Fortier explains. “People were calling, wanting to know when is the shelter going to open, is there any place else we can stay until the shelter was open.”

But Fortier says there aren’t many options. Programs have been squeezed by federal budget cuts. Section-8 housing subsidies are frozen. In Brattleboro an anti-camping ordinance and a crackdown on railroad property has even made it harder to live outside.

Angus Chaney chairs the Vermont Council on Homelessness. He says the effects of federal sequestration are being felt statewide. He says the cuts are negatively impacting state programs that had been working.

“I think sequestration was designed to be painful by people in Washington who were trying to force agreement on something,” Chaney says. “The concern that we’re seeing in the housing community is that it’s disproportionately painful on people who are homeless or have unstable housing.”

Listen to the full report here.

Tomorrow: VCEH’s Monthly Meeting in Randolph

The Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness monthly meeting will take place tomorrow, Tuesday, October 15, at the Vermont Tech Enterprise Center, located at 1051 Route 66 in Randolph. The meeting will be called to order at 10am.  Some of the items to be discussed:

We strongly encourage you to attend the meeting in person, but if you are unable to, please dial-in at 1-866-244-8528 and use the participant access code 324359.  Please review the agenda and last month’s meeting minutes.

Immediately following the meeting at 11:30am, the Single HMIS Exploration Committee, a joint committee of VCEH and the Chittenden County Continuum of Care, will be hosting a workshop to identify the needs and requirements of a Homeless Management Information System (HMIS).

This will be a valuable opportunity for homeless service providers across the state to begin working together to identify how HMIS is currently used and how it could be used to improve service delivery, facilitate coordinated assessment, and support performance measurement while supporting the everyday program tasks.

The workshop will focus on issues that are relevant to agency leadership, program managers and case managers or other staff that use HMIS on a daily basis.  Because the goal is to understand existing and desired process, it is especially important for non- technical people who are familiar with provider processes to attend.

The workshop will end at 3:30pm.  For those staying for the HMIS Workshop, we encourage you to bring a sack lunch.

For more information, and to send in your RSVP to the Workshop, please email Justin Henry at justin.vahc@gmail.com.

We hope to see you tomorrow morning!

The mission of the Coalition is to end homelessness in Vermont through sharing information, developing resources, providing a forum for decision-making and to promote decent, safe, fair, affordable shelter for all.

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