COVID-19 Housing & Homelessness Update 3/20/20

As the global pandemic continues and the situation changes rapidly, the VAHC is following COVID-19 news with a special emphasis on housing, homelessness, and our low-income and vulnerable Vermonters. Please read the following news updates.

*For the most recent information about the pandemic in Vermont, visit the Department of Health webpage.*  Here is the last daily update from the Department of Health.

Written comments on the FY21 budget are due to the Senate Appropriations committee by March 31. Though the Legislature is on break due to the pandemic, once things settle down a bit they will still need to pass an FY 21 budget. It will be more important than ever to weigh in on VHCB and all the other funding issues in the VAHC & VCEH State Legislative PrioritiesRead the press release.

There will be a legislative update call hosted by the Coalition next Tuesday the 24th at 10:30 A.M. Call-in information: Dial-in Number:  1-605-475-6333 Participant Access Code:  954380 # These are intended to be quick update and strategy calls, featuring the latest news from the statehouse.

The Public Utilities Commission ordered a temporary moratorium on involuntary natural gas, electric, and telecommunications service disconnections effective immediately through April 30th. More info from VT Digger.

Trump orders HUD to suspend foreclosures. The moratorium only applies to single-family properties with FHA insurance. Press release from HUD. Many national and local leaders are still calling for a moratorium on evictions.

The U.S. Senate passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which will provide immediate paid sick leave and paid family leave to millions of people, expanded unemployment insurance, vital nutrition aid, more Medicaid funds for states, and free COVID-19 testing. Read a summary of the bill from NPR hereMore information and the full bill on Congress.gov.

VHFA has compiled a list of resources for homebuyers, current homeowners, and property owners that have questions and concerns about buying a home or paying their mortgage during the COVID-19 outbreak. Click here for the resources

Updates from the NLIHC:

  1. The NLIHC is urgently asking Congress for:

  2. short term financial assistance and housing retention services,

  3. cleaning supplies for housing providers especially PHAs, and

  4. solutions that address the underlying cause of homelessness

  5. Here are their updated COVID-19 recommendations

  6. There will be weekly webinars to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic every Monday at 2:30 P.M. EDT. Reigster.

  7. For the FY21 budget, their top priority is the pandemic and low income renters, however, the housing crisis did not start with the pandemic, therefore they are also asking for long term solutions

  8. There have been reports of about a dozen homeless shelters closing across six states due to lack of funding needed to keep people safe, and/or lack of staff to keep the doors open.

  9. More info on the NLIHC website.

The Vermont Support Line is available for anyone who wants to talk for any reason at: (833) VT-TALKS. Staffed by peer support workers at Pathways Vermont from 3pm – 6am every day, this is an excellent source of support for anyone who is experiencing challenges, especially during this time of increased isolation. More info.

The Department Of Health has resources about taking care of your mental health during these stressful times: Click here.

For folks in recovery: There are online resources available to support you if you can’t attend in person meetings. Here is a list.

Guidance for Homeless Service Providers:

  1. The Office of Economic Opportunity and Department of Health has issued new guidance to homeless service providers to supplement the “Steps For Immediate Action By Homeless Service Providers

  2. There is a high likelihood that people with COVID-19 with mild or no symptoms will enter the shelter system.

  3. The goal for this technical guidance is to provide information to partners to:

  4. Reduce risk for those who are at high risk for complications from COVID-19 (older Vermonters and those with underlying medical conditions)

  5. Slow the spread to be able to maintain care and response capacity

  6. Read the new guidance here.

  7. HUD’s Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs (SNAPS) invites homeless assistance providers and their partners to participate in an Office Hours session to discuss COVID-19 planning and response on March 20, 2020 from 2:30 – 4:00 PM EDTJoin online here.

Other updates:

  1. From Housing Vermont: In an effort to do our part to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and protect our co-workers, families and community, Housing Vermont closed its office as of 6 p.m. Monday, March 16th. Our staff will be working remotely for the next two weeks until March 30, 2020, when we will reassess the situation. We will continue to be reachable and responsive via email and phone during this time. More info.

  2. Rental Housing Guidance update from VHFA: To minimize the health risks for building occupants, property managers should monitor guidance about COVID‐19 and provide up to date information for their tenants and staff. For more information, visit their website.

  3. From VTDigger on foreclosures: Senate Finance heard from Chris D’Elia, president of the Vermont Bankers’ Association. He told them that banks in his association are not participating in foreclosures in an attempt to bring some relief to Vermonters during the coronavirus outbreak. Joseph Bergeron, executive director of the Association of Vermont Credit Unions, also told lawmakers that his credit unions are offering emergency loans with low interest rates to small businesses in an effort to keep some businesses afloat.

  4. The Fair Housing Project of CVOEO has replaced all in-person April Fair Housing Month events with online and home-based activities. The goal of Fair Housing Month is to raise awareness about housing discrimination in Vermont and the positive role that inclusive, affordable housing plays in thriving communities. This year, due to COVID-19, the Fair Housing Project has switched gears to focus on fun, creative ways that people of all ages can celebrate Fair Housing Month from home or online, including making art and writing! Read the press release here.

  5. The ACLU Is urging Governor Scott to Take Immediate Action to Protect People in Vermont Prisons. Read their press release.

  6. From Alyssum, Inc: In order to protect staff and guests from the spread of the COVID virus Alyssum is closed for the near future. Staff are available from 12 pm to 4 pm daily to receive  calls and provide support. Thank you for your understanding and wishing you all the best. Peace and well being to all of you. – Gloria

  7. Housing Assistance Council (AHC) is working remotely to advocate for the needs of rural Americans during the crisis. Read the letter here.

  8. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a paper outlining their recommended response. They are concerned about the potentially extreme economic impact of the virus. Read their paper here.

Good news not related to COVID-19:

  1. Cathedral Square Receives $125K Grant from TD Bank to Upgrade Historic Burlington Mansion Housing Low-Income Seniors. Read the press release

Wishing you health and safety in these uncertain times!

#Homelessness #DisasterRelief #Housing #COVID19 #Vermont

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