BRATTLEBORO — The State of Vermont’s emergency motel voucher program is set to continue providing motel rooms as COVID-safe shelter through March 31, 2021. Groundworks Collaborative has been providing support to over 180 people (over 100 households) currently sheltering in Brattleboro motels and is beginning to see an increase in the number of people who are found ineligible for state-funded motel rooms.
“We are fortunate to live in a state that has prioritized shelter for people experiencing homelessness, by opening up motels and working with organizations like Groundworks to provide supportive services,” said Groundworks Executive Director Josh Davis.
Groundworks has put together a plan to open an overflow shelter in the conference room of a Brattleboro motel, where the organization’s staff are already providing supportive services to residents.
“We need to continue to ensure safety for anyone in need of shelter throughout the coming winter,” said Groundworks Director of Operations Rhianna Kendrick.
The plan has a tentative start date of Nov. 30 and will allow emergency shelter beds for people found ineligible for emergency motel vouchers as well as people newly seeking shelter in the Brattleboro area. No one currently in a motel room will have to leave.
“I want to applaud our staff for this creative approach to making shelter space available while continuing to provide robust supports to people sheltering in motels,” said Davis. “This plan achieves the goal to provide additional shelter beds without splitting our staff to open a separate program in a different location.”
Davis said that Brattleboro’s daytime shelter on South Main Street will open in the organization’s new building on April 1, “once we can transition our staff out of the motels and fully open the new day shelter.” The 2021/2022 seasonal overflow shelter will operate in the new building on South Main Street beginning in November 2021.
At this time, Groundworks is working through community partners to provide meals for residents of the additional shelter beds. The organization is not calling on its cadre of volunteer meal teams in the short term, except for those interested in providing homemade dishes for the upcoming Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s holiday meals for people sheltering in motels. Anyone interested in helping in this way should contact Groundworks at: meals@GroundworksVT.org.