MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A group of housing advocates are promising to camp outside the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier until the state does more to help homeless people, one of the advocates said Friday.
Brenda Siegel, of Newfane, and others want the expanded eligibility for housing assistance to stay in place through the end of the year. Begun amid the pandemic, it's set to expire Oct. 21. The advocates also want the state accept federal funds intended for that purpose.
“Any measure taken must include people who are on the street now and may be in the future," Siegel said in an email Friday.
In July, the state extended the hotel voucher program, which is used to provide shelter for some of those who experienced homelessness during the pandemic, through mid-September. Gov. Phil Scott later moved to keep the program running for 30 days, until Oct. 21, so a replacement could be developed.
On Friday, Rebecca Kelley, a spokesperson for the governor, said in an email the replacement plan is nearing completion and that a further extension would be included, without providing details.
Meanwhile, Siegel said in a text Friday that she and one other person are the main organizers, but others have joined for different aspects. They will be using sleeping bags to camp in the front of the Statehouse.
“The idea is that we are going to stay until appropriate action is taken," she said. “Lots of folks (are) bringing us supplies and food and lots of visitors."
On Friday the Vermont Department of Health reported 236 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19, bringing the statewide total since the pandemic began to more than 36,725.
There were 45 people hospitalized across the state with COVID-19, including 12 in intensive care.
The state has reported a total of 343 fatalities since the pandemic began.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Vermont has risen over the past two weeks from 184.86 new cases per day on Sept. 29 to 225.71 new cases per day on Oct. 13.
The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Vermont did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 2.29 deaths per day on Sept. 29 to 2.00 deaths per day on Oct. 13.
The Associated Press is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the United States.