The economic fall-out of Covid-19 has exacerbated an already dire housing crisis in Vermont, and Chittenden County is Ground Zero. State and local housing-assistance organizations — with help from federal funding through the Covid relief act — are responding to the unprecedented need to house the homeless and prevent new homelessness with an all-hands-on-deck approach. Find out how — and why it’s relevant to people across the state who are working to prevent homelessness — at the first of COVID Support VT’s educational Town Hall series.
The virtual Town Hall-style webinar is geared to help social-service providers and community members deepen their understanding of the various housing-assistance programs across the state and in Chittenden County. Representatives from leading statewide and local organizations that provide shelter, safe-housing and rental assistance will present brief overviews of their programs and how they have been impacted by the pandemic. A question-and-answer session will follow the presentations.
“Vermont has been in the national spotlight because of its response to the pandemic, especially in terms of how secure the homeless population has been,” says Corrine Yonce, an Education and Outreach Specialist at the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO). That’s in part due to the state’s expansion of its emergency housing system and programs like rent stabilization, which pay landlords back rent, she says.
Yonce and colleague Laura Mistretta will be on hand to update participants about the supports available to Vermont renters through CVOEO’s Housing Advocacy Program. The initiative includes a Vermont Tenants Helpline (802-864-0099) and a Mobile Home Program & Hotline (800-287-7971 ext 204) that provides direct support to mobile-home residents, an often-overlooked but important source of affordable housing in Vermont.
The event kicks off with a workshop by Vermont Legal Aid on “Housing Discrimination Protections: Reasonable Accommodations and Modifications,” which will review the statutes governing anti-discrimination protections applicable to our most vulnerable community members, including those with mental-health and physical disabilities.
Other community partners joining the Town Hall include the Economic Services Division of the Vermont Department for Children and Families; ANEW Place, an organization providing a continuum of services for Vermont’s homeless; Pathways Vermont, a Burlington-based program to end homelessness, and Steps to End Domestic Violence, a non-profit offering safe-house options and other services for people affected by domestic violence.
The Housing Town Hall is the first in a series of virtual meetings being hosted by COVID Support VT, whose mission is to provide education and emotional support to Vermonters and connect people to community services that promote resilience, empowerment and recovery. The grant program is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency, managed by Vermont’s Department of Emergency Management and Department of Mental Health, and administered by Vermont Care Partners, a network of 16 designated and specialized agencies across Vermont that provide mental-health, substance-use, and intellectual- and developmental-disability services and supports in your community.
Need to talk? Call 2-1-1 (option #2) or 866-652-4636 (option #2) for free, confidential, one-on-one counseling. Our Support Counselors are available Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
In crisis? If you or someone you care for is experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-825. You can also text VT to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor 24/7.