Advocates rally for Vermont homeless
Burlington Free Press – Terri Hallenbeck
MONTPELIER — A day when the temperature is 7 degrees out at noon is an appropriate day to highlight homelessness.
On the steps of the Statehouse on Wednesday, Linda Ryan of the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness took her time introducing speakers. The bite of the bitter cold sets in that way and the crowd catches a flavor for how a person without a home might feel, she said.
“We’ve been standing out here on these steps for too many years,” Patrick Flood, deputy secretary of Human Services, said to applause muffled by mittened hands. “In fact, it just seems to get worse every year.”
The death of a homeless man on a Burlington street last month gives the issue renewed urgency, said his boss, Human Services Secretary Doug Racine.
His agency is seeking $1.6 million in the midyear budget adjustment bill that includes money for emergency housing assistance.
Ryan, who is executive director of development at the Samaritan House in St. Albans, said the homeless problem has grown worse. The number of people who have come through her shelter has tripled in the past few years, she said.
Samaritan has four families staying in motels after filling its three apartments, she said. “That’s unheard of in St. Albans,” she said.
Melinda Bussino, executive director of the Brattleboro Area Drop In Center, later told legislators that the overflow, winter-only shelter there has seen a spike in clients from 47 a year ago to 68 this year …
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