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Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program

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VERAP gets a BAD RAP… setting the record straight!

Editorial by Kathleen Berk, Executive Director of the Vermont State Housing Authority, administrator of Vermont’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (VERAP)

Recently, affordable housing providers, homeless families, advocates, and policy makers gathered at the State House to provide testimony to the House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs on the status of the State’s COVID-19 recovery efforts in housing the hundreds of families living in motels and hotels and efforts of Vermont State Housing Authority in deploying Emergency Rental Assistance.

The discussion portrayed VERAP “as an unstable program”.   The next morning, Vermont Digger published an article describing VERAP as a program, “plagued with problems and delays”.

While VERAP has struggled at times to keep up with the volume of applications, largely due to Vermont’s limited workforce and technology barriers, we are meeting the needs of thousands of Vermonters while maintaining the integrity and compliance of a very prescriptive program, set forth by the US Treasury.

I have deep respect for the advocacy voice; however, I disagree with the recent characterization of the program and the VERAP Team’s work in implementing and administering VERAP.

Since July 2020, Vermont State Housing Authority (VSHA) has deployed more than $56 million in rental assistance reaching over 12,000 unique households, with an estimated $34 million in future benefits to be paid.  Additionally, through the Stipulation process, VSHA emergency rental assistance programs paid out over $1 million to settle 146 eviction cases.

VERAP has been taking applications since April 5, 2021, making payments for rent arrears, future rent and moving costs (Money to Move).  Additionally, VERAP has implemented new initiatives including Other Expenses Related to Housing, which can help owners pay for necessary repairs to keep their units safe and even bring new units online – a vital need highlighted by the COVID 19 pandemic.  We have also continued our Payment of Court Costs program to help landlords cover filing and legal fees to eliminate the need for landlords to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent.

In comparison to other states, Vermont ranks in the top ten when looking at scheduled and obligated payments for enrolled VERAP participants.  For this and our work on application integrity, the National Coalition of State Housing Agencies has continually referred other states to our Program and program administrators for guidance.

In just over six months VERAP has assisted more Vermonters with more rental assistance than any program in the history of our state.  And every day our team and our community partners around the state work together to make it the best program possible and to continue meeting the need of those who need it most.

 

The Vermont State Housing Authority has been in the business of providing critical housing assistance in Vermont for more than 50 years.

Established in 1968, VSHA has the distinction of being the first statewide housing authority in the nation.  Throughout our history, we have aggressively and compassionately pursued opportunities to provide and make housing more accessible and affordable for Vermonters.  Today, we serve more than 8500 families and are active in almost every community within the state.  Our affordable housing initiatives reach many Vermonters, from senior citizens, young families, those who are homeless and those with special needs to residents of mobile home parks. We invite you to travel through our website and see the many housing opportunities and services we provide.

Vermont State Housing Authority does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed or religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ancestry or place of birth, age, U.S. Military Veteran status, familial status, marital status, disability, HIV status, or because income is derived in whole or in part from public assistance in the admission or access to, or treatment or employment in, its programs and activities.

VSHA is committed to equal housing and employment opportunity and will consider reasonable accommodations upon request. Free interpreter services are available. Please tell us if you need an interpreter or other accommodation.

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French – Des services d’interprétation gratuits sont disponibles pour nos programmes. Vous êtes prié de nous faire savoir si vous avez besoin d’un interprète ou d’une assistance quelconque.

Russian – Для наших программ предлагаются бесплатные услуги переводчика. Пожалуйста, сообщите нам, если Вам требуется переводчик или другая помощь.

Serbo-Croatian – Za sve naše programe na raspolaganju su vam besplatne prevodilačke usluge. Molimo vas da nam javite ukoliko vam je potreban prevodilac ili bilo koja druga vrsta usluge.

Spanish – Hay servicios gratis de interpretación disponibles para nuestros programas. Por favor, avísenos si necesita un intérprete u otra acomodación.

Swahili – Huduma ya Utafsiri inapatikana bure. Tafadhali tueleze kama unahitaji mfasiri au huduma nyinginezo.

Vietnamese – Hiện có các dịch vụ thông dịch miễn phí cho các chương trình của chúng tôi. Xin cho chúng tôi biết nếu quý vị cần một thông dịch viên hay các thích nghi khác.

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