Leahy Leads Charge Against Homelessness In Senate Appropriations Bill

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Thursday guided more than $2.6 billion in Homeless Assistance Grants through the Senate Appropriations Committee, helping to secure a $99 million increase over the fiscal year 2018 funding level in the fight to break the cycle of homelessness.

Leahy said: “Too many Vermonters and families across the country are on the brink of crisis and becoming homeless.  Together we can end homelessness, but it takes a village.  We must come together to support those in need, and invest sufficient resources in rental assistance, emergency shelters, transitional and permanent housing, and supportive services.  Smart, steady and increased investments in Homeless Assistance Grants will provide much needed resources in the community approach to ending homelessness.”

In Vermont, Homeless Assistance Grants fund a variety of programs.  The Continuum of Care program promotes a community response to ending homelessness by coordinating housing and services for homeless Vermonters and their families.  Vermont has received $40 million in Continuum of Care program grants since 2005 to improve its services and help to ensure that Vermonters who find themselves homeless and in crisis can find a safe place to live and access the services they need to get back on their feet.  

Homeless Assistance Grants also provide funding for emergency solutions in Vermont.  These programs focus on rapid intervention to get Vermonters in crisis into housing so they can regain stability.  These grants have also been used to make improvements to emergency shelters around the state. Vermont has received $7 million in funding since 2003.

Addressing and solving homelessness in Vermont remains a significant challenge.  The Annual Point in Time Count of the homeless by the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness and the Chittenden County Homeless Alliance (May 2018) reported that during the one-day count in January, 1,291 Vermonters were homeless, a five percent increase compared to the 2017 one-day count.  Of that number, 292 were children 18 and under, representing 23 percent of the entire homeless population counted, and 151 people (or 12 percent) reported that they were fleeing domestic or sexual violent.

The funding bill now must be considered and passed by the full Senate and the House of Representatives and signed into law by the President.

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