[Hpn] Helping the Homeless; WCAX - Channel 3 TV - News; 12/10/2007

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@gmail.com
Mon, 10 Dec 2007 20:55:49 -0500

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Monday, December 10, 2007
WCAX - Channel 3 TV - News
Helping the Homeless

Burlington, Vermont - December 10, 2007

"The numbers in need have just expanded beyond any other precedent,"
said Rita Markley of the Committee on Temporary Shelter.

That's the message homeless advocates tried to send to legislators at
a summit designed to draw attention to the fact that funding for
emergency housing assistance is in trouble. More than 700 families in
Chittenden County alone are in emergency housing-- double what it was
last year. The sudden increase means money for the program is running
out and advocates say they're on the edge of a full-blown crisis.

"In Vermont, it's not like you can just pitch a tent and try to rough
it. In sub-zero temperatures, a family with a six-month-old baby
trying to survive will not make it. I mean you can't survive in
sub-zero temperatures," said Markley.

So they're asking the state legislature for help, hoping that when
lawmakers convene next month, they'll give the emergency assistance
program enough money to continue through the winter months.

"It's clearly an important issue to the legislature. There are
Vermonters, a lot of Vermont children and families, who are
potentially seeing some very dangerous situations. We know what
wintertime is like in Vermont," said Sen. Doug Racine, D-Chittenden

"When the budget committee gets together, they're gonna look at all
the needs, and priorities will be given. Listening to the stories that
we heard here this morning, these programs need to be continued, and
hopefully find a way to increase their funding," said Rep. Clem
Bissonnette, D-Winooski.

And if the legislature doesn't approve the funding increase, advocates
say that many families could find themselves on the street, during the
coldest months of the year.

"There will literally be people sleeping in their cars, huddled up in
doorways, and our community will look very different than it ever
has," warned Markley.

Housing officials say right now they're just looking for a short term
fix, but hope the legislature and the community will partner to come
up with a long term solution when the funding crisis is over.

Rachael Morrow - WCAX News


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