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Vermont Legal Aid Pushes Program to Address Homelessness by Reducing Evictions (VT)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Vermont Legal Aid Pushes Program to Address Homelessness by Reducing Evictions

"Vermont Legal Aid is pushing for state funding to help people pay overdue rent and avoid eviction, after releasing the first comprehensive report on evicted tenants in the state on Wednesday at the Statehouse.

The report, announced to the public on Homelessness Awareness Day, says that with $800,000 a year in state funding, Vermont could cut its roughly 1,700 evictions a year in half — leading to less homelessness throughout the state.

Supporters of the recommendation said many people who are evicted are unable to find new housing and end up homeless, but additional state funding to help pay rent would cut the homeless population while also keeping landlords from paying court fees in eviction cases.

“There are cost effective solutions to save people from homelessness but also save the state costs associated with eviction,” Jessica Radbord, a Vermont Legal Aid lawyer and co-author of the report said. “It makes more sense to keep people housed, pay off landlords, and let people stay in their homes.”

This is the first in-depth analysis to look at the rate of evictions in Vermont, and Radbord said that of the 1,700 eviction cases each year, 75 percent result in tenants losing their housing and becoming homeless — adding significantly to the populations in emergency shelters and other state-funded programs.

According to the report, if Vermont allocated $246,000 to programs that help people pay back rent, it would cut the number of evictions by 21 percent.

If the state allocated $800,000, it would cut the number by 50 percent, and $2 million would bring it down to about 70 percent, according to the report.

Angela Zaikowski, a lawyer who represents landlords throughout the state and is the director of the Vermont Apartment Owners’ Association, said she fully supports the recommendations and that landlords would welcome them..."

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