General Housing Just Housing Coalition Response to Governor Scott’s Budget Veto
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAY 27, 2023
GOVERNOR SCOTT’S BUDGET VETO: DEMOCRATS AND PROGRESSIVES UNIFY FOR JUST HOUSING TRANSITION
State Representative Mari Cordes (D)
State Representative Emma Mulvaney-Stanak (P/D)
State Representative Conor Casey (D)
MONTPELIER, VERMONT – As expected, Governor Scott vetoed the FY 2024 budget the Vermont Legislature passed on May 12, 2023. This budget is strong in many critical areas – childcare, long-term affordable housing, suicide prevention, the Affordable Heat Act, transportation, small farm support, healthcare provider support and more. Unfortunately, and despite engagement from concerned legislators and advocates raising the alarm early in the budget making process, the FY 2024 budget falls short in critical ways that must not be ignored. We are currently left with a gaping hole that eliminates substantial support that would provide a just transition for thousands of Vermonters living in temporary hotel housing. We can do better and have the solutions available.
The General Assistance (GA) Just Housing Coalition, composed of House and Senate Democrats and Progressives, is working with housing advocates and individuals soon to be evicted. We are engaged with the Vermont House Clerk’s office, Legislative Counsel, and the Joint Fiscal Office to develop policy to create a humane path out of this crisis. “I never thought the day would come where I was gathering backpacks and totes to help people move out of shelter and into tents or onto the streets. There has to be a better way,” said Rep. Michelle Bos-Lun (Westminster), former youth housing case manager.
Mass unhousing is inhumane. Additionally, the already overburdened, understaffed front line service providers are now faced with an impossible situation: hundreds of people will be looking to them for shelter when there are no rooms, looking for guidance when there aren’t enough case managers. People with disabilities and complex medical needs will be looking for very specialized help.
“The administration and legislature missed a critical piece of policy in the budget by not prioritizing enough funding for GA emergency housing program participants to transition to safe and secure housing. It is a political choice of whether to act or not to do the right thing during the veto session. We can find the money within a $8.4B budget to help these Vermonters,” said Rep. Emma Mulvaney-Stanak (Burlington).
The GA Just Housing Coalition will support a budget that prevents people from being exited from the GA program onto the streets, includes clear program eligibility definitions to protect vulnerable people, and does not add new people to the program. The Coalition will develop policy based on these policy goals using the formal legislative process. Our solution will be funded with portions of the FY24 budget that remain very flexible and any unused funds added to the AHS FY23 budget during the budget adjustment process. People, including service providers, need time and money for a just housing transition. Our budget proposal allocates both.