In honor of 50 years of community action in Vermont, the Office of Economic Opportunity, Department for Children and Families will be hosting a series of one-hour discussions on poverty every month in 2014.
The discussion series will take place on the following dates, be sure to mark your calendar:
- January 30, February 27, & March 27
- April 24, May 29, & June 26
- July 31, August 28, & September 25
- October 30, November 20, & December 18
Further details, including time and location, will be emailed to Agency of Human Services staff and partners a few weeks before each discussion and available online at http://dcf.vermont.gov/oeo.
The Department for Children and Families/Economic Services Division (DCF/ESD) has posted the revised Emergency rule, which went into effect on August 1, 2013, to its website: http://dcf.vermont.gov/esd/rules. The new rule makes vouchers available to individuals who are 65 and older, have a child age 6 or younger, women who are in their third trimester of pregnancy, and individuals who have applied for or received SSI/SSDI. The rule also maintains the point system but lowers the eligibility threshold to 4 points for other vulnerable populations.
In addition, DCF/ESD has posted the proposed permanent rule to replace the emergency rule at the end of November, and a second, related proposed rule pertaining to the catastrophic eligibility criteria for temporary housing. The rule proposes to clarify catastrophic eligibility criteria and align rules with current department practice.
If you would like to testify at the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (LCAR) on August 22 on the emergency rule, you need to contact Katie Pickens:
Katie Pickens, Committee Assistant
Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (LCAR)
State House – Montpelier 05633
Send comments to Erhard Mahnke, Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, at email@example.com
Vermont housing advocates met with officials from the Department for Children and Families yesterday to discuss revising the agency’s proposal that would limit access to emergency motel vouchers. The original plan required Vermonters who had not experienced a catastrophic event to meet 6 points on a scale of vulnerability in order to become eligible for a motel voucher.
At yesterday’s meeting, DCF unveiled their new proposal which would maintain the point system, but lower the eligibility threshold to 4 points. Additionally, the plan makes vouchers available to individuals who are 65 or older, have a child age 6 or younger, women in their third trimester of pregnancy, and individuals who have applied for or received SSI/SSDI.
Advocates at yesterday’s meeting generally felt the new proposal was more fair and inclusive, and appreciated the opportunity to collaborate and provide input. Linda Ryan, Director of the Samaritan House in St. Albans, stated, “I think we are way ahead of where we were to begin with. You’ve done a tremendous job of listening to us and adapting.”
Coverage of the story in local media:
Link to VTDigger.org Article, 7/23/2013
Fox44/ABC22 News, 7/23/2013
Seven Days VT – Fair Game, 7/24/2013
Seven Days VT – The Scoreboard, July 26, 2013
Rutland Herald – July 28, 2013
Advocacy and Policy, DCF, General Assistance (GA), Homelessness, Housing, Housing Agency and Nonprofit News, Housing Health and Safety, Poverty, Public Policy, State Budget/Funding, VT, VTDIGGER, WCAX
By Alicia Freese. Reposted from VTDigger, July 17, 2013.
“The state is revamping a controversial proposal to limit emergency housing in motels for homeless Vermonters.
Commissioner David Yacovone says he is “guardedly optimistic” that the Department of Children and Families will be able to relax the rules that determine who among the state’s homeless can stay in motels when shelters are full.
The standards will still be more stringent than they’ve been in previous years — the Legislature lopped off a large amount from the motel budget — but DCF is revisiting its initial proposal for paring back the program.
DCF was poised to put a temporary fix in place. It had devised a point system, based on 11 categories of eligibility, that would have drastically cut back the number of people who would be eligible for motel vouchers.
Advocates protested, arguing that the department’s approach would make it nearly impossible for anyone to qualify, and DCF has since backtracked. It pushed the deadline back for implementing new rules and scheduled several meetings for advocates to weigh in…”
Link to Full VTDigger Article
View PDF of Full VTDigger Article
Director of the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition (VAHC) Erhard Mahnke and Co-chair of the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness, Jeanne Montross, were both interviewed for an article that appeared in yesterday’s Rutland Herald discussing changes to the General Assistance Emergency Housing rules. The new rules will make it difficult for vulnerable Vermonters to qualify for motel vouchers as well as shorten their length of stay. The new policies were scheduled to go into effect today, July 15, but that date has been pushed back to August 1 thanks to the work of the VAHC and other housing and homelessness advocates who have spoken out against the new policies.
In response to the delay, DCF Commission David Yacovone stated, “We can’t walk away from the budget — it is the law — but if by working together we can make some changes that will serve more people, we will consider that.”
PDF of Full Rutland Herald Article
Advocacy and Policy, Affordable Housing, DCF, Homelessness, Housing, Housing Agency and Nonprofit News, Housing Events, Housing Health and Safety, Public Policy, Rutland Herald, VT
The Department for Children & Families, Economic Services Division announces the availability of funding for community partners to work jointly to develop and implement coordinated community responses to prevent and address homelessness of individuals and families in their region. One Community Housing Grant will be awarded in each of the Agency of Human Services (AHS) twelve districts throughout the state.
There will be a conference call on Wednesday, March 27 at 10:00am to provide more information. The call-in information is:
Call in#: 1-866-579-8110
View Community Housing Grant RFP
Applications are due no later than 4:00pm on Friday, April 26, 2013.
All questions regarding this Funding Opportunity Announcement should be submitted to Christine Dalley, Economic Services Division, (802) 793-3101 or firstname.lastname@example.org
By Kathryn Flagg. Reposted from Seven Days Vermont, February 12, 2013.
“Amid growing criticism of an expensive state practice that houses homeless Vermonters in motels, the Department of Children and Families is floating a new proposal to slash funding to the controversial program. The idea? Cut funding entirely for single individuals, rather than families, who currently receive nearly half of the hotel vouchers dispensed by the state.
A proposal from Sen. Tim Ashe (Chittenden) would go even further; in legislation he plans to introduce later this week, Ashe is recommending dialing back motel spending entirely by July 1, 2015, and instead allocating the roughly $2 million Vermont spent on motel vouchers in fiscal year 2012 to a suite of other measures, including transitional housing, better case management for homeless individuals, and homeless prevention programs…”
Link to Full Seven Days Article
PDF of Full Seven Days Article
Affordable Housing, COTS, DCF, Homelessness, Housing, Housing Agency and Nonprofit News, Housing Creation and Preservation, Housing Health and Safety, State Budget/Funding, State Research, VT
By: Alicia Freese. Reposted from VTDigger.org, February 10, 2013.
“Faced with soaring costs and concerns that the program is being abused, the state wants to shut the door on the practice of housing homeless individuals in motels.
Motels are the department’s fallback option when people without financial resources need temporary housing and shelters are full. The change would be considerable — nearly half the hotel vouchers the Department for Children and Families gives out go to single individuals, according to DCF Commissioner Dave Yacavone.
In 2009, the department expanded its eligibility requirements to allow individuals to access hotels or motels through what’s called the Temporary Assistance program. Prior to that, only families and individuals in “catastrophic” situations like floods or fires could get hotel vouchers…”
Link to Full VTDigger Article
View Full VTDigger Article
By: Kathryn Flagg. Seven Days, January 30, 2013.
“When temperatures plunged below zero degrees in mid-January, Vermont’s homeless shelters filled up fast. Desperate to find more available beds, state workers turned to their next best option: local motels.
The number of subsidized stays spiked during the cold snap, but lodging the homeless is not just a winter phenomenon; it’s an all-season problem. During the last fiscal year, the state picked up the tab for more than 38,000 overnight stays in Vermont motels at a cost of more than $2.2 million — a 55 percent increase over the previous year.
And the problem appears to be getting worse: Gov. Peter Shumlin’s midyear budget adjustment proposal for the current fiscal year calls for a $2.1 million hike in the general assistance fund. Most of that will go to supplement the $1.6 million already budgeted for temporary housing, according to Deputy Commissioner Richard Giddings of the Department of Children and Families.
‘I know that we are running hot,” Giddings admits. “I don’t know where we’re going to end up…’”
Link to Seven Days article
View PDF of Seven Days article
Richard Giddings, Deputy Commissioner, DCF-Economic Services, 10/25/12
In harsh winter weather, eligibility for temporary shelter through Vermont’s General Assistance (GA) and Emergency Assistance (EA) programs will be relaxed to encourage persons who are homeless and without adequate financial resources to seek safe shelter. General and Emergency Assistance is only available to US Citizens and legal resident aliens. An exception to this may be made to ensure the safety of children under 18 years of age.
Effective Time Frame: Effective Immediately.
Criteria for relaxing temporary shelter eligibility: Eligibility for temporary shelter will be relaxed when any of the following conditions exist – or are anticipated to exist within the next 12 hours – in the Vermont zip code where the homeless applicant is applying:
- Temperatures or wind chill less than 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Temperatures less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit with snow and/or freezing rain.
The National Weather Service website will be used to make this determination:
- The Community Action Program (CAP) or Vermont 2-1-1 will contact the emergency shelters in the AHS district where the applicant is applying to determine if there is available and appropriate capacity for the night. It is not appropriate for households with minor children to be placed in a “low-barrier” shelter with registered sex offenders, or with persons who are intoxicated or exhibiting violent behavior.
- If there is no appropriate emergency shelter capacity in the district, the CAP will assist the applicant in applying for GA/EA emergency housing. The Economic Services Division (ESD) or Vermont 2-1-1 will place the household overnight in a motel room, or (at the discretion of ESD, Vermont 2-1-1 and the local emergency shelter), pay to place a household which had been residing in emergency shelter into a nearby motel to make shelter space available for the applicant household.
- The Economic Services Division or Vermont 2-1-1 may choose to authorize temporary shelter on a daily basis or for multiple days if conditions warrant. The total amount of time authorized under this exception is not limited by the traditional number of days of temporary housing, but linked to the emergency conditions described above.
- ESD, 2-1-1 and local shelters will have flexibility when interpreting this exemption so as to best ensure the safety of persons who are homeless, whether in shelter or without a roof. Emergency shelters retain the right to refuse entry to persons who have violated shelter polices on violence, or to persons who pose a danger to themselves or others. Some persons may require alternative services appropriate to their circumstances, such as access to a public inebriate bed, hospitalization, treatment, or mental health crisis services.