Emergency Motel Housing For Homeless Extended To Dec. 31

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott on Monday extended emergency motel housing for some of the homeless population through the end of the year and urged the Legislature to fully fund his $249 million housing recovery plan that he says includes historic funding for permanent housing for the homeless.

In July, the state extended the hotel voucher program for families with children, the disabled, pregnant women and other vulnerable people, and gave $2,500 checks to those no longer eligible. Scott later moved to keep the program running for those people another 30 days, until Oct. 21.

“Those in GA Emergency Housing currently are some of the most vulnerable, including Vermonters with disabilities, families with children, and households who have faced chronic housing instability," Scott, a Republican, said in a written statement. “Demand for emergency housing and shelter is a symptom of Vermont’s current housing crisis. Ultimately, permanent housing solutions, not simply emergency housing and shelters, are needed."

As of last week, the Department of Children and Families was serving 950 families, representing 1,100 adults and 402 children, the administration said. Before the pandemic, the program provided emergency housing to about 2,500 Vermonters a year, officials said.

In April, Scott proposed that $249 million in capital funding be used for housing, requiring the Legislature to release an additional $179 million in federal pandemic relief funding, he said. On Monday, his administration released what they called a comprehensive plan for how the money would be spent, including for longer term motel rentals.

Vermont State Rep. Tom Stevens, a Democrat who is the chair of the House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affair, said in the last 18 to 19 months the state has committed more money to housing than it ever has, including $144 million that went to Vermont Housing and Conservation Board to distribute for building purchases and other affordable housing-related projects. It's not as easy as just releasing federal funds and what the governor has proposed in the latest plan needs vetting, he said.

“Determining what those projects are and where they have to be isn't just simply releasing the money,” Stevens said. “So we're going to continue. We know that the money exists in the ARPA (American Recovery Plan Act) funds and we're going to continue to look at projects and processes that will result in more housing.”

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CHILD CARE PROVIDERS

The Vermont Department for Children and Families is using federal COVID-19 relief money to help regulated child care providers survive the pandemic.

The Child Care Stabilization Grants will cover unexpected COVID-19 pandemic costs and help child care businesses stabilize operations.

DCF Commissioner Sean Brown said an online application and tutorial will be emailed to all regulated child care providers by Oct. 22. Awards will be distributed monthly beginning next month. If funding allows, they will continue for a year.

“They have cared for and nurtured our youngest residents while supporting our workforce," Brown said in a statement. “These grants represent an unprecedented opportunity to invest in, support and stabilize this critical sector of our economy.”

Some of the approved expenses include payroll and salaries, employee benefits, rent, personal protective equipment and other supplies.

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NUMBERS

On Monday, the Vermont Department of Health reported 202 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19, bringing the statewide total since the pandemic began to more than 37,515.

There were 41 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including 11 in intensive care.

The state has reported a total of 346 COVID-19 fatalities.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Vermont has risen over the past two weeks from 177.43 new cases per day on Sept. 30 to 218 new cases per day on Oct. 14.

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.

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AP reporter Wilson Ring contributed to this report from Stowe, Vt.