MONTPELIER, Vt. — The Vermont Department for Children and Families will be able to fully support a “last resort” public assistance housing program despite a budget cut that led officials to warn advocates only three months of funding would be available, a top official said.
Commissioner Ken Schatz said that despite a $150,000 cut to the current budget, other initiatives, such as substance abuse and domestic violence programs, are likely to reduce the need for emergency housing.
Human Services Secretary Al Gobeille said he’s committed to fully funding the housing program.
It’s still possible the department can go over its budget due to factors beyond the state’s control, such as a colder than expected winter or whether the homeless population increases, Schatz said, according to the Rutland Herald (http://bit.ly/2gWCsxM ).
“If in fact we go over somewhat, the secretary (Gobeille) was very supportive of, ‘We’ll figure it out,'” Schatz said.
In late June, Schatz sent a memo warning that the $150,000 budget could mean the state would only be able to guarantee funding for the General Assistance Emergency Housing budget for three months. But last week, Schatz sent a second memo to community action agencies saying the state would be able to fully fund the emergency housing program.
He warned, however, that funding for the program would remain an issue.
“We’ve got a population in Vermont that really has barriers to obtaining housing and employment,” Schatz said. “These challenges are still very much on our mind and of concern. The question is, are we going to be able to stem the increase in homelessness? We’ve still got to put more energy into addressing it.”