Gov. Shumlin Announces Strategy to End Family Homelessness by 2020

BURLINGTON – March 30, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — With over 1,500 Vermonters without housing on any given night and families with children now making up half of all people in emergency shelters, Gov. Peter Shumlin and Human Services Secretary Hal Cohen today announced a statewide strategy for ending child and family homelessness in Vermont by 2020. The Governor and Secretary made the announcement while celebrating a grant of more than a half-million dollars to rehabilitate and increase the number affordable housing units in Chittenden County, helping to relieve a shortage that affects all of those who face homelessness.

“Even with serious budget challenges, we are fortunate in Vermont to have many of the programs and partnerships already in place to support an ambitious initiative,” Gov. Shumlin said. “We can build on these foundations to achieve the goal of ending childhood and family homelessness by 2020.”

The administration’s initiative adopts the national strategy supported by the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, and others. Vermont’s plan will bring together programs operated by the Agency of Human Services, federal programs providing housing and shelter assistance, and local organizations that provide shelter, housing and services to Vermonters who are homeless or at-risk. The fullthree-part plan to attack homelessness is attached and includes:
Adopting the national “Family Connection” framework, developed by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, to ensure that local communities have a coordinated system for assessing families’ housing needs and connecting them to the appropriate benefits, employment, and evidence-based intervention the first time.

Bringing together rental subsidy programs with intensive services for people who are homeless so that families can get into housing faster and local providers spend less time chasing and coordinating resources and more time addressing and resolving the root causes that led to homelessness.

Constructing and rehabilitating homes and apartments that are accessible and affordable to Vermonters with extremely low incomes so that Vermont creates better opportunity for families experiencing homelessness or at risk.

“The stress and instability of homelessness can have profound impacts on children’s health, behavioral development, and educational achievement,” said Cohen. “It’s time to wake up and realize that this is intolerable and that we are responsible to build the Vermont we want to see.

For families without housing, we can do better than a motel room on cold nights.”
The Governor and Secretary Cohen were joined by Jennifer Hollar, Deputy Commissioner from the Department of Housing and Community Development, and guests representing state agencies, housing funders, housing providers, and organizations from various local Continuum of Care.

Simultaneous with the announcement of this new strategy, Gov. Shumlin presented a $580,000 grant for the construction and rehabilitation of fourteen new affordable apartments and a day station for the homeless at 95 North Avenue in Burlington. The project is being developed by the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS) and Housing Vermont. The Town of Williston secured the grant from the Vermont Community Development Program on behalf of homeless throughout Chittenden County. The grant provides a critical piece of the overall funding for the project which will enable COTS and Housing Vermont to create a permanent location to replace the day station flooded and displaced in 2012.
The grant was funded through the federal Community Development Block Grant Program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and is administered by the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development. Also at the ceremony were representatives of Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressman Peter Welch. Each member of the congressional delegation has played a key role in securing the funding that makes the program possible.

In a joint statement, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said: “This investment of federal Community Development Block Grant funds will provide much needed housing for Vermonters experiencing homelessness. We know that the most effective solutions for homelessness combine safe and affordable housing with essential services to help people get back on their feet. We applaud all of the community partners, including the State of Vermont and the Committee on Temporary Shelter, who are working to address the crisis of homelessness and its impact on some of the most vulnerable people in Vermont.”

For information on Vermont’s strategy for ending child and family homelessness by 2020, please see the Agency of Human Services website at:
http://humanservices.vermont.gov/

For information about the Vermont Community Development Program, please see the Agency of Commerce and Community Development website at:
http://accd.vermont.gov/strong_communities/opportunities/funding/vcdp

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