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New Project Looks To Reduce Homelessness By Preventing Evictions

If the number of evictions could be reduced, it could help decrease the number of homeless people. That’s the premise of a new pilot program in Chittenden County. 

The program is a collaboration between the Committee on Temporary Shelter and Housing Vermont, which co-owns more than 5,000 affordable housing units around the state.

Housing Vermont Vice President Ken Sassorossi says the idea is to work with participating landlords to identify people at risk of losing their housing. COTS will provide case management services designed to help them avoid eviction.

“There are human and financial costs in eviction, for both the resident being evicted and a financial cost for the landlord,” he says. “This approach takes the perspective of, 'Aren’t we better off investing money in trying to retain that tenant, rather than spending money on eviction process?' That clearly is a better outcome for the tenant.”

Sassarossi says case management services provided will be tailored to each situation. They could include help with financial literacy, family or mental health services or addiction treatment.

He says the program will also provide valuable data on the reasons behind evictions.

“We don’t have good data describing how many Vermonters end up in the eviction process, why they’re in the process and what the outcome is,” he says. The project will also measure the effectiveness of the efforts to help those facing eviction.

The project is funded in part by a $20,000 grant from the Vermont Community Foundation and a smaller award from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. COTS and Housing Vermont will contribute $64,000 in cash and services.

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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