Vermont Business Magazine Every year, shelter and service providers count sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness on a single night in January. All regions of the state participate in the point in time count on the same night.
The sheltered count is of people living in emergency shelter including hotels and motels through the General Assistance Emergency Housing Program, as well as transitional housing, and Safe Havens. The unsheltered count is of people experiencing homelessness who are living in a place not meant for human habitation such as outdoors or in a car.
The Point in Time Count in January 2022 found a 7.3% increase in persons experiencing homelessness in Vermont compared to the prior year, from 2,591 individuals to 2,780. This comes on the heels of a 133% increase from 2020 (pre-pandemic) to 2021.
- The number of persons experiencing homelessness in a household with children increased by 36% compared to the prior year, compared to a 5% increase of people in households with adults only.
- BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Vermonters disproportionately experienced homelessness in 2022 compared to the general population in both Chittenden County and Statewide.
According to Commissioner Sean Brown at the Vermont Department for Children and Families, “The Point in Time count offers a snapshot of the prevalence of homelessness in our cities and towns. Together, the State, community partners, affordable housing providers, and others have responded to the urgency of the crisis during the pandemic. We are committed to long-term solutions to make homelessness in Vermont rare and brief.”
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Vermont’s homeless response network leapt into action to relocate people from congregate shelters to hotels and motels around the state and to expand non-congregate shelter options through the General Assistance Emergency Housing Program.
Literal homelessness is defined as: ”Staying in emergency shelter, transitional housing for homeless persons, a place not meant for human habitation, or staying in motel paid for by General Assistance Emergency Housing.”
The expanded use of General Assistance Emergency Housing for non-congregate emergency shelter at hotels and motels allowed people who were vulnerable to COVID-19 and were precariously housed or at risk of homelessness to move into a hotel or motel room.
The expanded eligibility for access to emergency housing in motels allowed for all households experiencing homelessness throughout the state to “stay home, stay safe.”
In November 2021, the Vermont Department for Children & Families extended its Adverse Weather Conditions policy, which expands eligibility for GA Emergency Housing through the cold weather months, through to March 2022 and the Point in Time Count occurred during this period.
Changes in the GA Emergency Housing eligibility impacted the Point-in-Time Count.
The Point in Time Count provides a valuable measure of Vermont’s homeless population; the data is used to assess and identify housing service gaps and responses to these gaps.
This report chronicles the landscape of and changes in homelessness in Vermont in 2022 and over a ten-year period with breakdowns by location of homelessness, household type, and subpopulation.
The Annual Point in Time Count is a statewide count of persons experiencing literal homelessness on January 26, 2022. The Count captures the most vulnerable population, those literally homeless and does not include those at risk of homelessness, doubled up, or couch surfing.
Vermont’s two Continua of Care (CoC) — the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness (Balance of State CoC) and Chittenden Homeless Alliance (Chittenden County CoC) — are the lead organizers of this effort.
These CoCs, along with 11 Local Housing Coalitions that are part of the Balance of State, are comprised of service and housing providers, state agencies, those with lived experience of homelessness, and other key partners in the work to make all homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring.
The point in time count in Vermont is planned, coordinated, and carried out with the support from the two federally-recognized organizations, the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness and the Chittenden County Homeless Alliance.
NOTABLE FINDINGS 2022:
- The count on the night of January 26, 2022, found 2,780 Vermonters experienced literal homelessness, an increase of 189 persons compared to the 2021 count (Chart A).
− The decline in persons experiencing homelessness in Chittenden County may be due the extremely tight market for hotel rooms in the county which required people to relocate to shelter in other counties and the closure of at least one large hotel used for emergency shelter during 2021.
- A relatively few number of people (45) were counted as unsheltered, i.e. living outside or in a car (Charts B and C). This population is, by definition, difficult to count and is under-reported. However, Vermont’s expanded Adverse Weather Conditions policy likely accounts for the decrease compared to prior years.
- The number of persons experiencing homelessness and in a household with children increased by 36% compared to the prior year, compared to 5% of people in households with adults only (Chart D).
- BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) Vermonters disproportionately experienced homelessness in 2022 compared to the general population in both Chittenden County and Statewide (Charts E and F). Vermont’s Continua of Care recognize the urgency of understanding and responding to the causes of this disproportionate experience.
- Chart D, Subpopulations of Homelessness, paints a complex picture about who is experiencing homelessness. First, not all people experiencing homelessness have a reportable condition that helps to explain their experience; in many cases homelessness is caused by poverty (may be a short-term setback) and lack of affordable housing. Second, the conditions reported in the chart are self-reporting and perhaps ill-defined and therefore the absolute numbers should be cited carefully. Lastly, our response to homelessness requires a broad-based effort involving several state agencies, mental health providers, substance use disorder supports, and more.
− The Chart shows a decline from 2021 to 2022 in all subpopulations. There was a difference in how data was collected in the two Counts which may account for the change.
− The efforts of the Vermont Veterans Committee on Homelessness leading into 2020 resulted in an all-time low number of Veterans in VT with a steady multi-year decline ending in 2020, which then shifted to a 45% year-over-year increase in 2021 and a slight decrease in 2022. Veteran’s homelessness continues to decline in the overall population; Veterans
WHAT THE PIT COUNT DOES AND DOES NOT TELL US
The PIT Count provides important information about the nature of unmet need in our community and shows trends over time. During the night of the PIT count we are able to gather a snapshot of insight into the demographics and characteristics of those who are unsheltered, living in emergency shelter, accessing Vermont’s Agency of Human Services General Assistance Emergency Housing program, or residing in transitional housing for the homeless.
Due to its nature of only counting where someone slept on a given night, the PIT count does not reveal how many persons are entering and exiting homelessness in Vermont over the course of the year. The Count does not answer why people become homeless, how they leave homelessness when they do, or what barriers might be preventing them from returning to permanent housing. The Count cannot give explanations as to changes in rates of homelessness or different demographic groups, we must look to communities and people with lived experience for this information.
Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness
The Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness seeks to ensure that people living in Vermont have a safe, stable, affordable home, and — if homelessness does occur — it is brief, rare, and non-recurring and those experiencing homelessness are treated with dignity and respect. For more information visit: www.helpingtohousevt.org
Chittenden County Homeless Alliance
CCHA’s mission is to end homelessness in Chittenden County by being a forum for gathering information, building consensus, coordinating efforts, and advocating the end of homelessness through prevention, early intervention, and remediation.
6.2.2022. Barre. Capstone Community Action http://www.capstonevt.org