What role do emergency motel stays play when temperatures are below freezing?

Posted On February 8, 2013 By | 1 Comment on What role do emergency motel stays play when temperatures are below freezing?

Seven Days:

    • What the Rates Tell Us About Vermont’s Motel Spending: Shelters and motels aside, (COTS Executive Director) Rita Markley ultimately believes state funding is best used preventing a family or individual from losing housing in the first place — a refrain that’s become common in the motel spending debate. She points to a program that COTS ran last year that stopped 233 evictions. “That was 233 households who could have otherwise ended up in motels,” she says. The cost? $187,971 — 24 percent less than what the state paid to six motels alone in two months.
    • Leaders question program that puts Vermont’s homeless in motels: With homeless numbers up, more families and individuals are being placed in motels due to lack of space in shelters. “There’s no organization in Chittenden County that believes that overflow motels are the answer,” says Rita Markley, COTS Director. Instead she believes most nonprofits agree that it’s time to come up with alternatives.
    • With shelters full, a record number of Vermont’s homeless in motels: A program that houses homeless Vermonters in motels when shelters are full is costing the state more than ever before — and critics say the money does little permanent good for families in crisis.  Social-service providers and lawmakers are all frustrated with the stopgap program, saying it does nothing to help homeless individuals land permanent housing.


    • Helping the homeless: On bitter cold nights homeless shelters fill up. The Red Cross and several churches are considering opening temporary shelters for additional help.  But when no one showed up to stay at emergency lodging on Pine Street in Burlington last week, churches, such as North Avenue Alliance, put shelter plans on hold until more questions are answered.
    • Rita on “30” on WCAX: The Committee On Temporary Shelter is marking 30 years. COTS helps homeless people by providing a temporary place, moving people into permanent homes and helping them keep the housing they have.  Officials say even though more people are asking for help, COTS saw success this year, preventing 233 at risk families from losing their homes.  Rita Markley is the director of COTS. She gave us an update on what’s working for the program.  Watch the video for more.


    • Vt. Homeless advocates worry about cold: Doctors say frostbite can strike in as little as five minutes.  That’s why homeless advocates get especially worried when the temperature plummets. The state’s gotten heat in the past for the amount it spends to put people up in motels on cold evenings, but staff at Spectrum and COTS say unless they get more resources, it’s the best way to make sure Vermonters are safe.

Burlington Free Press:

    • Dr. Sam Tsemberis Pathways to Housing, Housing First Model“Housing First” for the homeless: An abiding precept: Homeless people with mental health problems need to be healed before they can be housed.  It’s an approach that Sam Tsemberis is trying to upend — because, he says, evidence shows the contrary to be both cheaper and more effective.  Tsemberis, CEO and Founder of New York-based nonprofit Pathways to Housing, encouraged other advocates for the homeless to advance his Housing First cause at a reception held at COTS.
    • Out in cold: Some Burlington homeless sleeping in tents: With temperatures dropping below zero, many homeless individuals who would have preferred to spend the night indoors, are sleeping in tents.  A common hang-up was that the person lacked a photo ID needed for an emergency stay in a motel room.  Rita Markley has attributed the increased demand for motel rooms to myriad interconnected factors, including the recent closing of COTS’ overflow shelter, Burlington’s vacancy rate and the slow economic recovery.

Categories: COTS Shelters, Homeless Prevention, Homelessness
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One response to “What role do emergency motel stays play when temperatures are below freezing?”

  1. Puddytat says:

    I agree w/ Dr. Tsemberis’ idea of housing first; punishing people w/ homelessness all due to brain-based addictions and behavioral problems is nOT the compassionate solution many in this field believe.

    I also agree w/the churches and non-profit networks to relive the problem.

    The fact that no on showed could have been remedied by MAKING KNOWN to the local churches and county DSS offies of the availbility for homeless individuals to go to these places for shelter.