Proposed Decrease in Homeless Hotel Rate Threatens to Displace Families, Budget Adjustment Bill Affects Reimbursement Rate of Program

In Montpelier, Vermont, a budget adjustment bill will continue the homeless hotel program, albeit at a reduced cost. This comes as lawmakers significantly cut the nightly reimbursement rate paid to hotels, sparking fears that some establishments may withdraw from the program, leading to an increase in homelessness.

Brittni Conger and Dakota Priddy, who live at the Travelodge in South Burlington with their two children, are among those affected by this change. Despite both working and saving as much as possible, they have been unable to secure permanent housing.

The state plans to extend the Emergency General Assistance program and cap hotel vouchers at $80 per room per night starting March. This will affect an estimated 1,701 households currently in the program.

Tracy Garen, general manager at the Travelodge, is one of several hoteliers who have rejected this offer. She argues that the new rate does not cover basic operating costs and puts them in a difficult position.

Governor Phil Scott has countered that many hotels have profited from the program and that the cap is necessary. He asserts that many hotels are accepting the new rate and will continue to do so.

Housing advocates have criticized the state for not providing more notice about these changes or clarity about which hotels will remain in the program. They argue that this lack of communication leaves Vermont’s most vulnerable citizens uncertain about their future housing situation.

Miranda Gray from the Department for Children and Families acknowledges that some people may be forced to leave their hotel accommodations and end up on the streets. She states that contingency planning is underway to address this issue.

However, for people like Brittni Conger and Emily Kenyon, who are unsure of where they will go once they can no longer afford their current accommodations, the situation is dire. Hotel owners and state officials are continuing discussions on this matter, but there are concerns that many businesses in Chittenden County will not accept the state’s offer.


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