Lola Duffort

Vermont is struggling to line up housing for those living in motel rooms

Of the 174 households who have left the motels, officials could only confirm that 34 had found housing in an apartment, and eight had found 'other' types of shelter

The state was given an unusual task in a last-minute legislative deal brokered in June that extended publicly financed motel-based shelter for more than 2,000 unhoused individuals. It was charged with attempting to rehouse or shelter everyone by April 2024, and required to report back to the Legislature on its progress - every single month.

Lawmakers received their first update from state officials two weeks ago. The upshot: From an original cohort of 1,250 households, 174 left the program in July, according to data compiled by the state. But the vast majority did not necessarily leave for alternative housing or shelter.

Of those who left the motels, officials could only confirm that 34 households had found housing in an apartment, and eight had found "other" types of shelter. Another 11 households were kicked out for misconduct. But those figures are dwarfed by the number of households - 113 - that exited from the program because they did not successfully renew their benefits, a process that they must undertake every 28 days.

"You may see that number go down because as individuals lose their benefits, that sometimes entices them to reach out to the state," Human Services Secretary Jenney Samuelson told the Legislature's Joint Fiscal Committee on July 31. "And so we're doing everything we can to make sure that they don't lose eligibility just because they didn't contact us."...

Read More

Child care overhaul becomes law as legislators override veto

As predicted, lawmakers on Tuesday easily overrode Gov. Phil Scott's veto of H.217, a bill set to invest well over $120 million annually into Vermont's ailing child care sector, enacting the measure into law. The only surprise, at the end of the day, was how quickly it all happened.

Read More

Lawmakers approve deal to extend motel shelter (for some) until the spring

With the deal in hand, a block of dissident House Democrats gave legislative leaders the votes they needed to override Gov. Phil Scott’s state budget veto

Lawmakers on Tuesday suspended their rules to pass, in a matter of mere hours, an eleventh-hour deal that will keep roughly 2,000 unhoused Vermonters sheltered in motels until April 1, 2024, unless state officials can find alternate placements. Gov. Phil Scott is planning to give the measure his stamp...

Read More


‘She keeps showing up’

Brenda Siegel of Newfane, the Democratic nominee for governor, spent a recent afternoon walking through Hardwick's downtown with Rep. Chip Troiano, D-Stannard, as her guide. Local business owners chatted politely each time she popped in to introduce herself and hand out campaign pamphlets. But out on the street, one woman immediately recognized her and warmly exclaimed: “Thank you for running!” Buttonholed by a reporter in a flower shop a few minutes later, the woman, Karen Starr, 70, of Danville, said...

Read More

Housing crisis looms in race for governor

Politicians of all stripes, up and down the ballot, running in Vermont's busiest election cycle in years agree on one thing: Top of mind for most voters is the state's housing crisis. But they do not necessarily agree about how to solve it. And nowhere are the differences in vision more stark than in this year's gubernatorial contest. Thanks in large part to a massive influx of federal cash during the pandemic, Gov. Phil Scott's administration, in partnership with the...

Read More

House overrides veto of Brattleboro charter change

The Vermont House on March 11 narrowly overrode Gov. Phil Scott's veto of H.361, a measure that allows Brattleboro to amend its charter so that 16- and 17-years-olds can vote in local elections. The chamber's 99-member coalition of Democrats and Progressives was joined by one Republican and two Independents to pass the measure by a vote of 102-47. One hundred votes are necessary to meet the two-thirds threshold required to override a gubernatorial veto in the House. Municipal charter changes...

Read More

Governor vetoes Brattleboro charter change

Gov. Phil Scott vetoed a charter change on Feb. 28 that would have granted 16- and 17-year-olds in Brattleboro the right to vote and run for office in municipal elections. On Tuesday, Rep. Emilie Kornheiser, who cosponsored the bill with the town's two other representatives, Mollie Burke and Tristan Toleno, said that the delegation hopes to begin the process of attempting to override the governor's veto. This is the Republican governor's third veto of the legislative session. In a letter...

Read More