End Homelessness in Vermont

Governor Phil Scott

UPDATE: As of August 17th, the Biden Administration has extended funding for all non-congregate shelters for the homeless until December 31st due the the Delta surge. This is great news; it means that the Governor can reinstate this program and keep thousands off the streets! There is no excuse not to take action now; not reinstating the motel program is unacceptable, unconscionable, and unnecessary. Read more below.

TO GOVERNOR SCOTT: 700 Vermonters who have left the motel program are now in or at risk of crisis. On July 1st, many of them had no choice but to sleep in tents in the woods and on the streets. This is unacceptable. The Governor must reinstate the motel program with no restrictions, continue a moratorium on evictions, and reinstate all food programs. This assistance should continue until all are transitioned to permanent housing and we can assure that no one in our state is going hungry.

Vermont has housed homeless individuals and families in motels throughout the pandemic. However, on July 1st, around 700 Vermonters were forced to leave the motels. Many are now sleeping on the streets, and many more will be soon without eviction protections, increasing the epidemic of homelessness in our state. This is a humanitarian crisis. Vermont has fought the battle so well against COVID and in supporting homeless neighbors; now we are leaving people on the battlefield. The Governor has the singular power to change this at this moment and he should use it.

Governor Scott, you have the singular power to keep people safe, housed, and food secure. These actions must be taken in order to do so:

1. Extend the GA motel program for Vermonters experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity until such time as those utilizing the program can be transitioned to permanent housing.

2. Continue the moratorium on evictions.

3. Safe and consistent housing is the priority, but we must also keep in place all increased food access including expanded Maximum Snap Benefits, Everyone Eats and all Food Resource programs. (This will not be adequate without housing security addressed.)

It is unconscionable when our state is flush with resources that anyone goes without shelter, without needed support and without food.

Keeping people in motels for now is the socially and fiscally responsible action to take; it will protect the most vulnerable Vermonters and their mental, emotional, and physical health. People in motels who have experienced homelessness years prior had the most stability ever during the motel program, for some this is the first time they have been able to access services, have an address for job applications, ID and health care and more. Now, everything is falling apart. 16 months in the motels is not enough for homeless Vermonters struggling through trauma and trying to build their lives. If we as a state, and the governor, truly care about vulnerable Vermonters, we need to continue this program until housing is prevalent. In less than 84 days, families will begin to be kicked out of motels, too. This is right when school starts. Children experiencing homelessness will not have a stable home to receive their education. Since housing will not be available by September in the necessary quantities, continuing the motel program until such time as these families can be transitioned to permanent housing is the only option available….unless our state wants to displace children onto the streets.

Only by having all people in motels can this program be a success at ending homelessness. Everyone in motels is already connected with services with a roof over their heads, ready to transition into a more permanent apartment as soon as it becomes available. Keeping people in motels will allow them to remain connected to these services and their housing coordinators; and for Vermont to organize more case workers to move people to housing when it becomes available. Having people on the streets makes ending homelessness light-years harder.

Utilizing the motels for a little while longer also saves money in the long run; money that would otherwise be spent on shelters, mobile showers, food banks, and other band-aid solutions.

Another reason safe housing (motels) are important right now: people who have stable housing are more likely to find employment, have stable relationships, use fewer substances, etc., and therefore are less likely to commit crimes. Studies actually show that people with stable housing are significantly less likely to commit crimes; motels, although not permanent, count as stable housing until Vermont invests in enough affordable housing.

A homeless man in Bennington named Thierry Heuga was sleeping outside in the winter of 2020, and he died of 4 degree temperatures. He should have lived to see the motel program, and he should be alive today. Unfortunately, with people on the streets, we are on the road to another situation like Thierry’s, and another, and another. Stories of Vermonters leaving the motels on July 1st for a tent in the woods are not uncommon. Homeless Vermonters already traumatized by years of housing instability, which leads to a multitude of other issues, are being retraumatized by having to sleep on the streets. One woman in this situation was afraid of sleeping outside but had no other options; another person lamented feeling invisible as they were pushed onto the streets. Vermont is entering another crisis; a homelessness and housing crisis; a human rights crisis.

However, Vermont has an opportunity for the first time ever to truly end homelessness and support people who would otherwise be dying from exposure on the streets this winter; let’s not lose this once in a lifetime chance to prevent that tragedy and do better.

Sign onto this petition to ensure that Governor Scott takes action today to extend the motel program for all without restrictions, extend an eviction moratorium, and reinstate food/SNAP benefits and the Everyone Eats Program. Most importantly in this demand is to continue the motel program because doing so will provide a leg up for Vermont to end homelessness. Not a single person should be homeless in response to the end of the COVID emergency order. The motel program needs to continue until everyone can be transitioned into housing. Does Vermont, and does the Governor, truly want to end homelessness in our state? If so, we need to continue the motel program until the necessary permanent housing is available.

Petition Writers and Signatories:

Sen. Kesha Ram, Chittenden County

Rep. Heather Surprenant, Windsor-4

Rep. Michelle Bos-Lun, Windham-4

Rep. Tommy Walz, Washington-3

Rep. Tanya Vyhovsky, Chittenden 8-1

Rep. Taylor Small, Chittenden 6-7

Rep. Emma Mulvaney-Stanak Chittenden 6-2

Rep. Mollie Burke, Windham 2-2


Brenda Siegel, Former Candidate For Governor & Policy Advocate

Anthony Iarrapino, Wilschek Iarrapino Law Office, PLLC

Jubilee McGill, Housing Advocate

Sarah George, State's Attorney Chittenden County

Dennis Wygmans, State’s Attorney Addison County

Fife and Drum Motel, Bennington

Rick DeAngelis, Good Samaritan Haven

Susan Whitmore, John Graham Housing and Services

Anne Sosin, Dartmouth College

Vermont Student Anti-Racism Network


Students and Future voters of Vermont:


Addie Lentzner — Governor’s Institute of VT

Grace Marroquin — Governor’s Institute of VT

Lydia Beaulieu — Governor’s Institute of VT

Marlayna King — Governor’s Institute of VT

Fen Jagoda — Governor’s Institute of VT

Ava White — Governor’s Institute of VT

Acadia Cook — Governor’s Institute of VT

Madeleine Thaxton — Governor’s Institute of VT

Ross Cagenello — Governor’s Institute of VT

Elias Poling — Governor’s Institute of VT

Meg Maclaury — Governor’s Institute of VT

Eliza Stearns — Governor’s Institute of VT

Allie Brooks — Governor’s Institute of VT

Erica Jansch — Governor’s Institute of VT

Minelle Sarfo-adu — Governor’s Institute of VT

Sydney Feltz

Olivia Miller

Jenna Hirschman

Marshall Moffatt

Ali Millette

Beniamino Nardin

Dahabo Abukar

Lisa Plum

Ciera Fiaschetti

Ella Saccio

Grace Waryas

Luka Breen

Sadie Lentzner

Evelyn Monje

Jolyn Fang

Jassie Fang

Issy Swain

Cissy Dai

Amatista Keller-Angelo

Ella Murphy

Avi Hayon

Emma Hoover

Audrey Robinson

Grace

Rachel Ledoux

Maggie Spiegel

Dylan Berres

Diya

Mackenzie Flint

Isabella Scudder

Theodore Rosenau

Cass Pickering

Aidan Forrest

Ashley Fox

Iris Hsiang

Quinnlan Steele

Sheila Jansch

Mia Ponessi

Liz

Kyrrah Maynard

Nicole Schubert

Emma Jansch

Isabella Ingegneri

Abby Sekora

Ella Maguire

Delia Beaudry

Renee Peterson

Kobe Kessler

Jay Leuschner

kylie begnoche

Rhea Veerareddy

Lily Larson

Hannah Gallivan

Lottie Fischer

Tracy Joosten

Lilith Fuchs

Caroline Nicolai

jeremiah schotter

Katherine Hashem

Lucy Gates

Avery Prouty

Eva Keely

Nisha Hickock

Ella Murphy

Ajna Siegel

Petition by
Addie Lentzner
Bennington, Vermont

To: Governor Phil Scott
From: [Your Name]

Hello Gov. Scott,

We are high school students, housing advocates, lawyers, legislators, state leaders, and concerned citizens from around Vermont writing about the motel program, which ended for 700 Vermonters on July 1st. As of August 17th, thousands of Vermonters are on the streets. However, the Biden Administration has extended funding for all non-congregate shelters for the homeless until December 31st due the the Delta surge. Vermont could, at no cost to our state, continue the motel program.
Governor Scott, you have the singular power to make change and support Vermonters experiencing homelessness; not to act now (especially after Biden’s announcement) will threaten the safety, well-being, and the lives thousands of vulnerable Vermonters.

Governor Scott, you have the singular power to keep people safe, housed, and food secure. These actions must be taken in order to do so:

1. Extend the GA motel program for Vermonters experiencing homelessnes and housing insecurity until such time as those utilizing the program can be transitioned to permanent housing.

2. Continue the moratorium on evictions.

3. Safe and consistent housing is the priority, but we must also keep in place all increased food access including expanded Maximum Snap Benefits, Everyone Eats and all Food Resource programs. (This will not be adequate without housing security addressed.)

It is unconscionable when our state is flush with resources that anyone goes without shelter, without needed support and without food.

Keeping people in motels for now is the socially and fiscally responsible action to take; it will protect the most vulnerable Vermonters and their mental, emotional, and physical health. People in motels who have experienced homelessness years prior had the most stability ever during the motel program, for some this is the first time they have been able to access services, have an address for job applications, ID and health care and more. Now, everything is falling apart. 16 months in the motels is not enough for homeless Vermonters struggling through trauma and trying to build their lives. If we as a state, and you as governor, truly care about vulnerable Vermonters, we need to continue this program until housing is prevalent. In less than 84 days, families will begin to be kicked out of motels, too. This is right when school starts. Children experiencing homelessness will not have a stable home to receive their education. Since housing will not be available by September in the necessary quantities, continuing the motel program until such time as these families can be transitioned to permanent housing is the only option available….unless you want to displace children onto the streets.

Only by having all people in motels can this program be a success at ending homelessness. Everyone in motels is already connected with services with a roof over their heads, ready to transition into a more permanent apartment as soon as it becomes available. Keeping people in motels will allow them to remain connected to these services and their housing coordinators; and for Vermont to organize more case workers to move people to housing when it becomes available. Having people on the streets makes ending homelessness light-years harder.

Utilizing the motels for a little while longer also saves money in the long run; money that would otherwise be spent on shelters, mobile showers, food banks, and other band-aid solutions.

Another reason safe housing (motels) are important right now: people who have stable housing are more likely to find employment, have stable relationships, use fewer substances, etc., and therefore are less likely to commit crimes. Employing the motels for a while longer can help our state remain safe in a multitude of ways.

Additionally, there should be less severe economic restrictions, such as cash assets, on the motel program. Just because someone makes over a threshold of money does not mean they do not need assistance. In fact, one man wrote an op-ed in the Brattleboro Reformer and described how the economic restrictions on the motel program are actually pushing him into deeper and deeper poverty.

Vermont has an opportunity for the first time ever to truly end homelessness and support people who would otherwise be dying from exposure on the streets this winter; let’s not lose this once in a lifetime chance to prevent that tragedy and do better.

A homeless man in Bennington named Thierry Heuga was sleeping outside in the winter of 2020, and he died of 4 degree temperatures. He should have lived to see the motel program, and he should be alive today. Unfortunately, with people on the streets, we are on the road to another situation like Thierry’s, and another, and another. Stories of Vermonters leaving the motels on July 1st for a tent in the woods are not uncommon. Homeless Vermonters already traumatized by years of housing instability, which leads to a multitude of other issues, are being retraumatized by having to sleep on the streets. One woman in this situation was afraid of sleeping outside but had no other options; another person lamented feeling invisible as they were pushed onto the streets. Vermont is entering another crisis; a homelessness and housing crisis; a human rights crisis. You have the sole power to stop this.

We call on you to take the following actions now:
1. Extend the GA motel program for Vermonters experiencing homelessnes and housing insecurity until such time as those utilizing the program can be transitioned to permanent housing.

2. Continue the moratorium on evictions.

3. Safe and consistent housing is the priority, but we must also keep in place all increased food access including expanded Maximum Snap Benefits, Everyone Eats and all Food Resource programs. (This will not be adequate without housing security addressed.)

Only through this essential assistance can Vermont envision ending homelessness and proving that as a state (and you as a governor) truly care about vulnerable Vermonters and the good of all Vermonters.

Sincerely,

Sen. Kesha Ram, Chittenden County
Rep. Heather Suprenant, Windsor-4
Rep. Michelle Bos-Lun, Windham-4
Rep. Tommy Walz, Washington-3
Rep. Tanya Vyhovsky, Chittenden 8-1
Rep. Taylor Small, Chittenden 6-7
Rep. Emma Mulvaney-Stanak Chittenden 6-2
Rep. Mollie Burke, Windham 2-2

Brenda Siegel, Former Candidate For Governor & Policy Advocate
Anthony Iarrapino, Wilschek Iarrapino Law Office, PLLC
Jubilee McGill, Housing Advocate
Sarah George, State's Attorney Chittenden County
Dennis Wygmans, State’s Attorney Addison County
Fife and Drum Motel, Bennington
Rick DeAngelis, Good Samaritan Haven
Anne Sosin, Dartmouth College
Vermont Student Anti-Racism Network

Students and Future voters of Vermont:

Addie Lentzner — Governor’s Institute of VT
Grace Marroquin — Governor’s Institute of VT
Lydia Beaulieu — Governor’s Institute of VT
Marlayna King — Governor’s Institute of VT
Fen Jagoda — Governor’s Institute of VT
Ava White — Governor’s Institute of VT
Acadia Cook — Governor’s Institute of VT
Madeleine Thaxton — Governor’s Institute of VT
Ross Cagenello — Governor’s Institute of VT
Elias Poling — Governor’s Institute of VT
Meg Maclaury — Governor’s Institute of VT
Eliza Stearns — Governor’s Institute of VT
Allie Brooks — Governor’s Institute of VT
Erica Jansch — Governor’s Institute of VT
Minelle Sarfo-adu — Governor’s Institute of VT
Sydney Feltz
Olivia Miller
Jenna Hirschman
Marshall Moffatt
Ali Millette
Beniamino Nardin
Dahabo Abukar
Lisa Plum
Ciera Fiaschetti
Ella Saccio
Grace Waryas
Luka Breen
Sadie Lentzner
Evelyn Monje
Jolyn Fang
Jassie Fang
Issy Swain
Cissy Dai
Amatista Keller-Angelo
Ella Murphy
Avi Hayon
Emma Hoover
Audrey Robinson
Grace
Rachel Ledoux
Maggie Spiegel
Dylan Berres
Diya
Mackenzie Flint
Isabella Scudder
Theodore Rosenau
Cass Pickering
Aidan Forrest
Ashley Fox
Iris Hsiang
Quinnlan Steele
Sheila Jansch
Mia Ponessi
Liz
Kyrrah Maynard
Nicole Schubert
Emma Jansch
Isabella Ingegneri
Abby Sekora
Ella Maguire
Delia Beaudry
Renee Peterson
Kobe Kessler
Jay Leuschner
kylie begnoche
Rhea Veerareddy
Lily Larson
Hannah Gallivan
Lottie Fischer
Tracy Joosten
Lilith Fuchs
Caroline Nicolai
jeremiah schotter
Katherine Hashem
Lucy Gates
Avery Prouty
Eva Keely
Nisha Hickock
Ella Murphy
Ajna Siegel