There’s a boatload of infuriating details in a story by VTDigger’s Lola Duffort about the ending of the motel voucher program. One of them stood out for me, not because it’s the most telling or most impactful, but because it’s so painfully ironic.
The story opens with Rebecca Duprey, a voucher client who’s struggled to regain her footing after years of evading a violently abusive ex-husband. Her motel stay has given her half a chance, but now she’s facing a return to living in her car with her two sons.
Duprey’s case strikes at the heart of the lobotomy-style disconnect between state policymaking and, well, basic humanity. As it happens, she’s had years-long relationships with two prominent lawmakers — Rep. Anne Donahue and Sen. Anne Cummings. Each has offered assistance to Duprey, and yet each has voted in favor of an FY2024 budget that will force her back on the streets.
That’s all bad enough, but here’s the topper.
When the two lawmakers learned that Duprey was back in Washington County and spending cold nights in her car, they did not reach out to administration officials or state workers, but instead to Brenda Siegel, an advocate and former gubernatorial candidate, who took over Duprey’s casework and found her the room she currently lives in.
That would be the same Brenda Siegel who’s been treated so shabbily by lawmakers personally inconvenienced by her advocacy. She has, in fact, become the face of the housing advocacy community because, due to her lopsided defeat in last November’s gubernatorial election, she’s an easy political figure to dismiss. Which makes the issue easier to dismiss.
And these two prominent lawmakers turned to Siegel to help when they didn’t think anyone else would. Hmm.Continue reading