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Homeless Children On the Rise in VT Schools

Posted February 2, 2015

Below is in an excerpt of an article published in the Rutland Herald discussing the increase in homeless children throughout the state of Vermont:

While the recession is officially over, many of its effects continue to be felt in Vermont, where rates of homeless families continue to rise.

For children of homeless families, continuing their K-12 educations can be an extraordinary challenge as they sometimes face long commutes while struggling with a chaotic life outside school that can involve children bouncing from a home to a hotel, shelter or outdoors.

According to annual data collected from school districts and supervisory unions by the Agency of Education, the number of homeless children in Vermont has risen 46 percent during the past five years, from 784 in 2010 to 1,145 in 2014.

Under the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act — which guarantees education for homeless children — homelessness can be defined as living in a shelter, doubled up with another family, living in a hotel or unsheltered.

The law also counts “unaccompanied minors” — teens who have fled their homes and are staying with friends or families of friends.

“It’s been growing, not exponentially, but we get spikes,” said Mike Mulcahy, former state coordinator for homeless education for the Agency of Education and currently an interagency coordinator who works with the Department of Health and Department for Children and Families.

“When economies go down, homelessness goes up,” said Mulcahy, who also noted a spike in homeless youth following Tropical Storm Irene, when the number of homeless youth jumped from 915 in 2011 to 1,202 in 2012.

“It created a real surge in the number of students who became homeless,” Mulcahy said. “One school district went from five homeless students to 55 homeless students.”

To read the entire article click here.


VT Winter Shelters Expect More Homeless

Posted November 3, 2014

As winter shelters begin to open across the state of Vermont, those who organize these temporary facilities are preparing to see a rise in demand for services this year. Below is an excerpt from an article in the Rutland Herald discussing this issue. While the article focuses on services in Brattleboro, it also explains that this is expected to be a statewide concern:

The temperature may be dropping, but this town’s winter homeless shelter — the first to open in the state this season — is just one of several ready for demand to rise.

“You hear people say we have plenty of affordable housing, but we don’t have enough good-paying jobs,” says Lucie Fortier, director of the Brattleboro Area Drop In Center. “That’s why we’re anticipating our numbers, especially for women and families, will go up.”

The shelter — which made national news when hosts at the local First Baptist Church sold a Tiffany stained-glass window in 2010 to avoid closure — used to open around Thanksgiving to grant the homeless a temporary reprieve from sleeping in the woods, under bridges or along the banks of the nearby Connecticut River.

But the combination of a chillier environment and economy has prompted organizers to now open at the start of November and delay closure until as late as the end of April.

“Even though it’s the first of the month and people will get SSI (supplemental security income) checks, our numbers will be high,” Fortier says. “We are hearing about more families with children out there. It’s a major problem, and we are not going in the right direction.”

What the state calls “seasonal warming shelters” in church and community buildings are different from homeless organizations that operate year-round but can only house a small number of full-time residents. (Brattleboro’s 29-bed Morningside Shelter — the sole such permanent facility in southeastern Vermont — usually has a waiting list that equals its number of clients.)

The state doesn’t have an accurate count of winter facilities, as many open or close depending on the annual ability to find sponsors and space. But officials — reporting 1,556 homeless Vermonters in a 2014 survey, up 9.27 percent from last year — say the need for such support continues.

“If you have money in the stock market, the recovery has been pretty tangible, but if you are at a minimum-wage job or on a fixed benefit, it’s hard to see that,” says Angus Chaney, director of housing for the state Agency of Human Services and chairman of the Vermont Council on Homelessness. “The low incomes of many aren’t keeping pace with the cost of housing. When you add that with the loss of federal assistance, the combination is very bad for people on the edge.”

To read the complete article click here.


Shires Housing Awarded Grant From VHCB For Bennington Historic Rehabilitation Project


Shires Housing recently announced that they have been awarded a grant from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board to rehabilitate a group of apartments in six buildings they own in Bennington. Below is an excerpt from an article in the Rutland Herald that discusses this project, which is being called the “Bennington Historic Rehab,” and the funding received in further detail:

Shires Housing has been awarded a grant of more than $316,000 from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board to rehabilitate 26 apartments in six buildings they own in Bennington.

John Broderick, executive director of the not-for-profit affordable housing corporation, said the large majority of the work that Shires Housing, formerly known as the Regional Affordable Housing Corp., has done in Bennington over the past 24 years has been rehabilitation of existing housing stock

“Frequently, we’ve taken over some of the worst buildings in town that have been severely deteriorated and using government resources, we re-invest in those buildings and give them new life,” he said.

Broderick said he was grateful the VHCB had supported another Shires project.

“VHCB has been very helpful in our 24 years to help provide critical planning and seed funding for these kinds of developments,” he said.

This project, which Shires is calling the “Bennington Historic Rehab,” involves buildings on Pleasant Street, School Street, Safford Street and Kerrigan Lane.

The award of $316,558 will be part of the overall cost, estimated at $3,613,690. The project will include interior upgrades and significant energy improvements to the apartments.

The Bennington Historic Rehab name is appropriate as the homes involved were built between 1875 and 1890. All of them have been owned by Shires for many years.

To read the full article click here.



Greater Burlington area among most expensive housing markets in the U.S.

Posted August 15, 2013

By Leslie Black-Plumeau, reposted from Housing Matters, August 15, 2013:

“For workers in certain industries, especially tourism and service jobs, the cost of renting or buying a home in the Burlington metropolitan area is out of reach given average wages paid in these fields.

According to the Center for Housing Policy’s “Paycheck to Paycheck, 2013” report released yesterday, Burlington is the 21st most expensive rental market among 207 metropolitan areas studied. For homeowners, the Burlington area ranked 42nd most expensive.

Check out today’s Rutland Herald article (subscription required) for local responses to the report.”

See also: Center for Housing Policy – Travel and Tourism Workers Struggle to Cover Housing Costs in Many U.S. Metros (PDF)

Rutland Hearld Report: Hospitality workers face housing crunch (PDF)


Rutland Herald: Vote on town rental registry set

Posted July 22, 2013

Reposted from the Rutland Herald, July 18, 2013.

“SPRINGFIELD — Officials in Springfield are considering an ordinance that would set up a rental registry for property owners looking to occupy town buildings.

Residents are scheduled to vote on the proposal Aug. 20, which would require property owners to get a certificate of occupancy from the local zoning office and a passing grade from the health officer for the buildings.

Opponents say it adds unnecessary paperwork to property owners looking to rent units. Advocates call the ordinance an upgrade in enforcement for authorities to categorize all properties up for lease in Springfield.

The Eagle-Times reported that a public hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 19 at the Springfield High School cafeteria.”

Link to Rutland Herald Article 


Rutland Herald: Vt. to cut motel stays for homeless

Posted July 15, 2013

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