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My Turn: Helping Vermont End Homelessness

Burlington Free Press – Barbara Fields We’ve seen that when localities combine housing with supportive services the results are fewer ambulance and police calls, fewer visits to the emergency room and real savings for taxpayers. During the early 1980s as many families lost their homes and jobs, state and local governments were forced to dramatically cut the assistance they could offer. As a result, we saw a dramatic spike in the number of homeless men, women and families. Today we are emerging from an even more severe recession and once again local governments face hard fiscal times. But thankfully, as a recent report shows, when it comes to homelessness, history is not repeating itself. Indeed, according to HUD’s annual “Point-in-Time” count, which estimates the scope of homelessness on a given night in America, despite unprecedented economic headwinds, between 2010 and 2011 homelessness has gone down by almost every measure. It’s declined among both individuals and families, as well as among what we call “chronically” homeless people — those who have been homeless for extended periods of time. And most significantly of all, veterans’ homelessness dropped nearly 12 percent. This decline in homelessness is also being noticed in Burlington and Chittenden County where local planners report a one-year 20 percent drop in the number of persons living in their shelters and on their streets. And the Obama administration is building on that progress for Burlington area families. That’s why this week HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan announced nearly $3.6 million in new funding throughout Vermont to fight homelessness, part of nearly $1.5 billion to help more than 7,000 homelessness programs across the country … Link to Full Article Link to PDF of Article

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