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VTDIGGER: State fire safety official offers alternative to stricter fire code rules

Posted August 1, 2013

By Hilary Niles. Reposted from, July 26, 2013

“A recent update to Vermont’s fire code started some people wondering if certain rural construction sites would be permissible — even if developers could afford to install on-site water supplies large enough to comply with the new code.

VTDigger reported on the heightened requirements on July 5.

Bob Patterson, deputy director of the state’s Division of Fire Safety, has since weighed in: If a suburban or rural site cannot fulfill the water supply requirements of the National Fire Protection Association’s Fire Code, a different standard from NFPA can be used…”

PDF of Full VTDigger Article



TIMES ARGUS – Counting our homeless: Vermont struggles to pinpoint needs

Posted July 30, 2013

By Eric Blaisdell. Reposted from the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus, July 28, 2013.

“It’s anyone’s guess how many people are actually homeless in Vermont.

They aren’t exactly lining up to be counted, and the ones who have been identified represent only a fraction of the total homeless population.

The lack of reliable data has undermined the efforts of advocates for the homeless while providing political cover for policy makers, experts in the field say.

Moreover, the incomplete count has made it more difficult to secure adequate funding to combat the problem, and direct aid to where it’s needed most.

However poor the data, the problem is undeniably severe.

Surveys of the homeless population show a sharp climb in recent years, coinciding with the onset of an economic recession that began taking its toll in 2008. Tropical Storm Irene dealt another blow in 2011, when residents of devastated communities lost access to shelter…”

PDF of Full Times Argus Article


DCF unveils new emergency housing proposal

Posted July 24, 2013

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 Article, 7/23/2013, 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



Changes to 2012 VT Access Rules open for public comment

Posted July 23, 2013

The Vermont Access Board invites public comment on changes to the 2012 Vermont Access Rules. The rules effect how new housing is designed and built and focuses on accessibility and safety standards in new construction.  These rules are divided into 13 Chapters to coincide with the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards and the ADA Accessibility Guidelines.

Please send comments or questions to Councilmember Bob Patterson, Division of Public Safety at or Caitlin Corkins, Department of Housing and Community Development representative to the Access Board at 802-828-3047 or The comment period is open until September 27, 2013. 

View Annotated VT Access Rules



VTDigger: State may pull back on new rules governing motel stays for homeless

Posted July 18, 2013

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


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



Change in national fire code could add costs to Vermont projects

Posted July 12, 2013

By Hilary Niles. Reposted from, July 5, 2013

“The state’s fire code is updated about every six years to keep pace with standards set by the National Fire Protection Association. Whereas the old code referred vaguely to an “adequate” water supply being available and provided no more than guidelines for determining adequacy, changes adopted in 2012 specify exactly how much water is required for every size and type of building. A wood-frame building between 0 and 3,600 square feet, for example, must have access to a two-hour flow of 1,500 gallons of water per minute.

‘Do that math!’ exclaimed Bill Bissell, the electrical and fire protection engineer hired to design the sprinkler system for the East Montpelier school. It’s Bissell who’s trying to get word to his colleagues around the state that the recent revisions carry potentially major implications.”

Link to Full VTDigger Article 

View PDF of Full VTDigger Article