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About 40 homeless seek eligibility to stay in motels longer

July 12, 2021 GMT

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — About 40 homeless people who had been scheduled to lose their pandemic-related emergency hotel rooms in Vermont on July 1 are seeking to be verified as having a disability, allowing them to stay longer.

Late last month, a federal court judge signed an agreement, extending the emergency housing for two weeks for some people to show they can remain eligible. That came after Vermont Legal Aid sued the state, alleging the changes violate Vermont law and have a restrictive definition of what qualifies as a disability. About 700 people were expected to lose their hotel rooms on July 1.

The state has extended the hotel voucher program 84 days for families with children, the disabled, pregnant women and other vulnerable people, and gave $2,500 checks to those no longer eligible. Families with children and some disabled households may be able to stay longer.

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So far, 37 people who were no longer eligible on July 1 have attested that they have a disability while they work to get paperwork from a medical provider, Nicole Tousignant of the Vermont Department for Children and Families said Monday.

Vermont spent $79 million on the hotel vouchers program, housing up to 2,000 households on some nights, but the program is not financially sustainable and the state has expanding housing eligibility from before the pandemic, officials said.

The state is investing $120 million to create more permanent and shared-housing arrangements while also encouraging shelters to reopen and expand, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Smith has said.

THE NUMBERS

Vermont reported eight new cases of the coronavirus on Monday for a total of more than 24,480 cases since the pandemic began.

Monday’s number includes cases reported over the weekend.

Five people were hospitalized, including one in intensive care, according to the Vermont Department of Health.

The Associated Press is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the United States.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Vermont has risen over the past two weeks from 4.57 new cases per day on June 26 to 5.43 new cases per day on July 10.