The Econo Lodge in Shelburne will soon become a new sort of short-term housing that officials are touting as a way to help clients regain their footing. The Champlain Housing Trust is buying the motel on Shelburne Road in a deal finalized Monday, said Michael Monte, chief operating and financial officer for the trust. The facility has ceased operating as a motel and could begin operating as Harbor Place by this weekend. “It’s like a motel but very different,” Monte said. “This is really something in the middle between having nothing and having something,” Monte said. The plan is to provide up to 59 rooms for people in need of temporary housing, but to also provide them with caseworkers who will set them on a required course to find a job or child care, or cure other problems that led to their homelessness, said David Yavacone, commissioner of the state Department for Children & Families… Champlain Housing Trust is paying $1.85 million for the property that includes 4.89 acres, Monte said. The money includes $1.675 million borrowed through the Vermont Community Loan Fund and $175,000 financing from the seller, Keshav LLC, Monte said… Champlain Housing Trust will run Harbor Place, providing an on-site manager and staff, but has agreements to work with several area agencies, including HowardCenter, Fletcher Allen Health Care, Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity and others, to connect clients with help, Monte said.
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Champlain Housing Trust has recruited at least 10 other entities to provide services, ranging from job counseling to housing assistance to domestic violence services or to help with financing the project… Like the state’s motel program, stays at Harbor Place will be capped at 28 days, but unlike the current voucher system, there will be case workers on hand to help families and individuals find permanent housing, apply for jobs, or address other needs. The state itself has signed on as a partner — DCF is reserving 30 rooms for people who qualify for vouchers through DCF’s point system. DCF Commissioner Dave Yacovone said he’s excited about the arrangement. “By bringing the [case] manager in, it makes it look entirely different than just putting someone up in a hotel,” he said. “That’s a really exciting opportunity to provide wraparound services to families in a transitional housing unit.” Yacovone also estimates the new arrangement will save the state roughly $250,000 a year. That’s because the Trust, a nonprofit operation, is confident Harbor Place will cost less — it’s charging the state $38 per night. Yacovone said the department normally pays $62 a night for motel rooms in Chittenden County.