Vermont, Home of the Homeless

Here’s something I didn’t know about our Brave Little State: Vermont has the second highest rate of homelessness in the country. Only California is worse.

That little tidbit appeared in a story posted by The Guardian on Friday, February 3. But it wasn’t new; it came from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2022 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report. Which also noted that between 2007 and 2022, Vermont experienced the highest increase in homelessness of any state.

Did I miss the widespread outrage? Did I miss our media’s in-depth coverage of this? Did I miss the hastily-called meetings and press conferences where Our Leaders expressed dismay and promised immediate action to make it better?


May I take a moment to be retroactively appalled?

This is not the kind of ranking I expect from our green and pleasant land. Quite the opposite, in fact.

There was one significant piece of good news in the HUD report, but that news may get quite a bit worse in the very near future.

The good news is that we do an extremely good job of getting homeless Vermonters into shelter of some kind or another. In fact, we provide more shelter than any other state.

That’s nice, but we’re about to see one of our big shelter programs go away.

That would be the program that gives motel vouchers to the unhoused. It will expire on March 31 unless the Legislature provides money for a three-month extension. Yes, at the very best, this program will end on June 30.

And when that happens, our top ranking on sheltering the homeless will go straight into the crapper.

We’ve known for at least two years that this program would end when federal Covid relief funds ran out. Since June 2021 the Scott administration has been hacking and whacking at it, reducing the clientele from 2,700 to the current 1,200. It’s also repeatedly tried to end the program altogether, only to respond to public outrage by discovering pockets of money to keep it running for a little while longer.

What it hasn’t done is craft a policy response to what can accurately be called a crisis. Staff at the Department of Children and Families have been working their asses off to help transition people into decent housing. Their efforts have been frustrated by insufficient staff and resources, and by Vermont’s well-chronicled housing shortage.

Lawmakers and housing advocates are working hard as well. Let’s hope they come up with something, and let’s hope our feckless administration has the heart to go along with it. In the absence, that is, of actually taking the initiative itself.

Our governor is fond if saying that one of the three pillars of his governorship is protecting our most vulnerable. Says here he’s fallen down on that job, and needs to take a strong leadership role.

Frankly, based on the record, I’ll be shocked if he does. My hope is that others will step in where our governor has failed.


4 thoughts on “Vermont, Home of the Homeless

  1. Snafu

    “Our governor is fond if saying that one of the three pillars of his governorship is protecting our most vulnerable.”

    Protecting the vulnerable in this case, of course, means protecting the billionaires as they have the wads of ready campaign cash

  2. Stupid Proud

    What did you expect Walters? Functional and responsible human behavior from Vermont’s elected public employees?

    Vermont legislators are characteristically silent simply because there is no inherent virtue-signaling opportunity in it for them to be quoted in the facile apathetic Vermont media.

    Like Grandma used to say, “The greatest form of social welfare is public employment!”

    It should be noted here that the Nagymaman of whom I speak would not have been allowed entrance and ultimately U.S. citizenship had she not immigrated to the United States of America prior to Vermont’s U.S. Congressman William Dillingham’s work and efforts which resulted in a research and database model for the Eugenics Survey of Vermont and the enactment of the Immigration Act of 1924 that explicitly excluded southern and eastern European immigrants.


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