VT Digger reports on the opening of the Beacon Apartments, which consists of 19 studio and one-bedroom apartments in the now renovated former Ho Hum Motel in South Burlington, will provide permanent housing and supportive services to chronically homeless individuals. The project is made possible through the work of the Champlain Housing Trust, the Burlington Housing Authority and the Community Health Centers of Burlington. Below is an excerpt from the article:
Many of the people who began moving into modest but newly renovated apartments this month at the former Ho Hum Motel haven’t had a place of their own in years.
One man said he hadn’t showered in 2½ months, recalled Ben Daniels, construction manager for the Beacon Apartments, as the single-story brick complex is known. Now he has his own bathroom with a shower.
The Beacon Apartments are a project of the Champlain Housing Trust, the Burlington Housing Authority and Safe Harbor, which is the Community Health Centers of Burlington’s health care program for homeless people.
The 19 studio and one-bedroom apartments on Route 7 between Burlington and Shelburne are not transitional housing, said Chris Donnelly, director of community relations for the housing trust. Tenants can stay forever if they choose, he said.
Working with United Way, the groups conducted a survey to identify the homeless people in the region most likely to die on the streets or in the woods. They’re also the people “most likely to cycle through emergency rooms,” Donnelly said — visits that ultimately drive up health care costs borne by the public at large.
The idea is to give the long-term homeless, many of whom struggle with substance abuse and mental illness, stable housing and support services that will allow them to live more normal lives.
“These are folks who have trouble navigating the system on a good day. They’ve really just been focused on survival,” said Erin Ahearn, Safe Harbor’s homeless health care program manager.
Many are the product of generational poverty and “never had the opportunity to be independent and successful on their own,” Ahearn said. They often grew up without a family home, frequently staying with friends or relatives, and in some cases on the streets, she said.
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