[Hpn] [Homeless] Couple complains of housing needs; Montpelier, Vermont; 8/29/02
Morgan W. Brown
Thu, 29 Aug 2002 12:07:29 -0400
Thursday, August 29, 2002
Times Argus <http://timesargus.nybor.com>
[Barre - Montpelier, Vermont]
Top Stories section
Couple complains of housing needs
August 29, 2002
By Stephen Mills
TIMES ARGUS STAFF
MONTPELIER – A young couple with a baby have been sleeping outside because
they are unable to find affordable housing.
Kevin Zimmerman, 20, his fiancée, Melanie Guimont, 25, and their son,
Austin, have been homeless on-and-off for much of this year after a friend
they were staying with moved.
Despite numerous requests to a number of state and local agencies for
Section 8 subsidized housing, they say they have been either denied or
placed on lengthy waiting lists.
Zimmerman said their problem had become even more acute since the birth of
their son and the lack of housing could put his health and well-being at
“Welfare won’t help us with agency housing because we’re not eligible
enough,” said Zimmerman. “How much more eligible do I need to be? I’m
homeless with a 3½ month old baby. We were living with a friend and they had
to move, and we had nowhere else to go. We applied for emergency housing and
kept getting denied.
“We went to the Vermont State Housing Authority here in Montpelier. At first
they accepted us, and then they denied us because they did a criminal
background check and found I had a disorderly conduct conviction,” he said.
“The SRS contacted us and sent in paperwork to boost us up the waiting list
for housing. All that did was get us a review. We completed another
application and it was denied. SRS had us fill out an emergency request
form. We’ve not heard back from them. That was two weeks ago, but it can
take a few weeks,” Zimmerman continued.
“We also applied to the Montpelier Housing Authority. They accepted us two
months ago, but we haven’t heard anything since. “Occasionally, we’ll stay
with a friend, but we’ve also been sleeping out, out back here by the
railway tracks, sleeping on blankets,” he added.
While they wait for housing, the family has also stayed at the Good
Samaritan homeless shelter in Barre at night, and at Another Way, a drop in
center for people with mental health or emotional issues or who were
homeless, in Montpelier, during the day.
Zimmerman criticized both facilities. He said the Barre shelter would now
only accept the mother and child, but not him. He said it was because he
would not “suck up” to officials who run the shelter.
He was equally critical of the drop-in center, complaining that they said
they do not allow people to spend the night there, although he said there
were others staying overnight.
Zimmerman said he was currently trying to find work to alleviate their
financial situation. Meanwhile, he said the family is on welfare and
Reach-Up, a program that provides assistance for the baby.
For now, said Guimont, the baby is well, despite their ordeal.
“He’s perfectly healthy,” she said. “We made sure to stock up on blankets,
and to be sure he’s warm. He’s also well fed and he’s got diapers.”
Guimont said her current situation had also forced her to send her
6-year-old son, Joshua, to live with his father in Enosburg Falls.
Another Way director Bill Newhall said the family was not allowed to stay at
the Barre Street property overnight, – either inside, on the porch outside,
or behind the property near the railroad tracks – because the facility is
not staffed at night.
Occasionally, he admitted, one or two people stay overnight by special
arrangement, but it was usually an exception for brief periods and not the
“We’ve been working with these people since Christmas – before the baby was
born – even though we don’t have any responsibility for them because they’re
not mental health patients or claim to have any substantial mental
problems,” said Newhall.
While he was sympathetic to the family’s plight, Newhall said there had been
friction with Zimmerman because “he has an attitude of entitlement,” and
because he had been aggressive with volunteer staff at the center.
Good Samaritan executive director Paul Mascitti said the rules of
confidentiality prevented him from giving specifics about the family’s
attendance at the shelter, but he too said there had been problems with
Zimmerman, and that he was not welcome anymore.
He said the mother and child were always welcome, but the couple refused to
be split up.
“The baby is in an unfortunate situation and that is the reason we offered
services to the mother,” he said. “She has used our services but left
voluntarily, but we will still take her back.”
Mascitti denied claims by Zimmerman that the shelter had failed to help them
with housing claims.
“We’ve set them up with everybody in town that provides services, but they
did not turn up for appointments,” he said.
Richard Williams at the Vermont State Housing Authority said confidentiality
rules prevented him commenting specifically about the couple’s application
for Section 8 housing.
But he said Zimmerman was not denied because of the disorderly conduct
“If there’s a Section 8 housing application, we do do (criminal background)
checks,” he said. “He would not have been denied for a disorderly conduct
offence. If there were issues in the past, such as drugs, assault or
domestic violence, he would not be eligible to receive assistance.”
The Montpelier Housing Authority said it could not comment on Zimmerman’s
application because of confidentiality rules. Similarly the Barre District
office of the state welfare system declined to comment, referring inquires
to the Attorney General’s office that also cited confidentially rules.
Contact Stephen Mills at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Montpelier
office of The Times Argus at [(802)] 223-3335.
---End of forwarded article---
~~~Related Web sites -- fyi:
City of Montpelier Vermont:
Montpelier Housing Authority (MHA):
Vermont State Housing Authority (VSHA):
Vermont Department of Prevention, Assistance, Transition, and Health Access
(PATH, formerly Department of Social Welfare (DSW)):
Vermont Department of Social & Rehabilitation Services (SRS):
Another Way Drop-In Center:
Good Samaritan Haven homeless shelter; Barre, Vermont:
~~~Related information found online:
The Good Samaritan Haven: (802) 479-2294
-- The Good Samaritan Haven in Barre is an emergency shelter open from 6pm
to 7am daily. They offer welcome, good meals, a clean house, beds, showers,
washing facilities, some free clothing, and staff assigned to work out
temporary or long-range goals. Individual needs are noted and followed up on
by staff in a confidential interview. Information and referrals are offered
for job openings, apartment listings, and other needs. Every day a different
volunteer runs the evening and nighttime hours; the meals are cooked and
delivered hot each night by volunteers as well. The Good Samaritan Haven
also does outreach to assist people in potential housing crises.
**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this
material is distributed without charge or profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**
-------End of forward-------
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA
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