The Passage of the State Budget: In Support of a Veto Override
In May, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR) shared our support for Vermont’s emergency housing program, known as the Transitional Housing Program, which provides shelter for the unhoused members of our community in hotels and motels with pandemic-era funds.
The lack of a responsible transition regarding the ending of the Transitional Housing Program is a systemic failure. Both a failure to act responsibly and a failure of moral imagination. As such, we are entering a statewide humanitarian crisis.
The number of persons experiencing homelessness in Vermont has gone up 18.5% since 2022 – an increase of 197% since our 2020 pre-pandemic data. New field research also highlights the critical role emergency and transitional housing has had in stabilizing both individuals, families, and our communities.
Creating long term solutions will require taking the lead from the voices of those most impacted, including the professionals working within the human services field and the people relying on these programs.
As employers, the lack of affordable housing in Vermont impacts our ability to employ people who are otherwise available to work, including recruiting new hires and retaining them. Simply, we have open positions that would be filled if housing were more accessible. In parallel, we strive to pay livable wages and yet some of our current employees are only a few paychecks away from being in the position of needing housing assistance.
As community members, we want everyone to have access to safe, stable shelter, and consider this essential in reducing the opportunity gap and creating a healthy economic system that unlocks individual and collective prosperity.
Overriding the recent veto and passing this year’s state budget will not solve the housing crisis long term, but it will allow Vermont to meet its financial obligations while also providing state funds that countless programs and people rely on right now. The negative consequences of not having an approved, actionable budget on July 1 are too great for our society to ignore.
As an organization committed to the people of our state – all of our people – by advancing a just, thriving, and transformative economy, VBSR calls upon our elected officials and the Scott Administration to commit to Housing First policies – and the funding required – that protect tenants, expand home ownership for low-middle-income Vermonters, and preserve and produce more affordable housing.
Achieving these immediate and longer-term goals starts with a veto override, the passing of the FY24 state budget, and then getting serious at a systems level about putting an end to homelessness in Vermont.
Contact: Kristin Warner, Public Policy Manager, email@example.com or at (802) 498-4560.