Housing leaders release Bridges to Housing proposal

Critical Actions Can Address Homelessness Crisis: Housing Leaders Release Bridges to Housing Proposal

Vermont Business Magazine Today, housing leaders across Vermont are releasing a proposal for the future of emergency housing for Vermonters experiencing homelessness. Bridges to Housing: Accelerating Progress on Homelessness in Vermont lays out five strategies to guide action on emergency housing in the state.

Newly-released federal data shows Vermont has the second highest per capita rate of homelessness in the United States behind only California. This sobering news brings national attention to our state’s housing crisis. Many more Vermonters are struggling to remain in their homes or live in substandard housing. Recent estimates indicate that Vermont will need to add 40,000 units of housing by 2030 to return to a healthy housing market.

The Bridges to Housing proposal represents the collective planning efforts of housing leaders across the state and is designed to implement the swift action critical to address the scale of its crisis. The proposal calls for the following five strategies to advance the dual goals of addressing the state’s homelessness crisis while decreasing reliance on motel-based shelter.

Strategy 1: Create Alternatives to Motel-based Emergency Shelter

Invest in 120 units of alternative shelter in FY24 to expand statewide shelter capacity and decrease reliance on motel-based shelter.

Strategy 2: Bring Proven Permanent Solutions to Homelessness to Scale

Accelerate the production of affordable housing and supportive services.

Strategy 3: Redesign GA Emergency Housing Program

Redesign a statewide emergency housing program in line with the evidence on best practices and Vermont’s current context.

Strategy 4: Unify Vision, Roadmap, Planning, & Coordination to End Homelessness

Update the 2017 Roadmap to End Homelessness and revive statewide coordination structures to lead action to address the crisis.

Strategy 5: Maintain and Improve the General Assistance (GA) Emergency Housing as a Bridge to Permanent Housing

Maintain and improve the GA Emergency Housing program as a bridge to permanent housing for Vermonters experiencing homelessness.

“So much progress has been made in the fight against homelessness,” said Capstone Community Action Executive Director Sue Minter. “But we find ourselves at a critical moment of opportunity to invest in the best practice solutions we need to lift struggling Vermonters out of homelessness for the long term. The Bridges to Housing proposal is an important step to this destination.”

“We know that housing, not motels, is the solution to Vermont’s crisis of homelessness,” Anne Sosin, Interim Executive Director of the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, stated. “As a state, we need to create bridges to permanent housing, not cliffs into homelessness. The Bridges to Housing proposal sets forth a course of action to pursue this goal while decreasing our reliance on motel-based shelter.”

The Bridges for Housing proposal was co-signed by the following list of housing leaders across the state of Vermont. In the coming weeks, this coalition will work with state partners, legislators and community stakeholders to move forward this plan of action. For a copy of the proposal, please contact [email protected].

Capstone Community Action

Cathedral Square

Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity

Charter House Coalition

Downstreet Housing & Community Development

Evernorth

Good Samaritan Haven

Groundworks Collaborative

John Graham Housing & Services

Lamoille Community House

Main Street Landing

Northeast Kingdom Community Action

RuralEdge

Spectrum Youth and Family Services

Upper Valley Haven

Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition

Vermont Center for Independent Living

Vermont Legal Aid

Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

Windham & Windsor Housing Trust

Source: February 8, 2023. vtaffordablehousing.org