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DCF Announces Policy to Enhance Predictability for Emergency Shelter Program

November 10, 2021

The Department for Children and Families announced today that, to enhance predictability and stability for program participants, the Adverse Weather Conditions policy for the General Assistance Emergency Housing Program will be applied for a 100-day period from November 22, 2021, through March 1, 2022.

The Adverse Weather Conditions policy has historically been applied on a day-by-day basis, based on weather forecasts and conditions. To reduce the need for beneficiaries of the program to reapply on a daily basis, the State will open eligibility during this time period, which is historically when it sees the most use.

During this period, Vermonters will have to meet eligibility criteria, which include:

  • an urgent need for housing,
  • income guidelines, and
  • a lack of adequate financial resources available to secure housing on their own.

However, enhanced predictability through the Adverse Weather Conditions policy will be achieved through the following flexibilities

  1. Qualifying for temporary shelter will not depend on the day-to-day weather conditions.
  2. People will not have to fit into one of the categories below to get assistance:
  • individual over 60 or with a disability,
  • person fleeing domestic violence, 
  • family with children or pregnant, or
  • lost housing due to a natural disaster (e.g., flood, fire, or hurricane).

Shelter space will be utilized as a first option for individuals – unless there are safety concerns related to domestic violence.

Beginning on March 2, 2022, Adverse Weather Conditions will remain in effect but will revert to the traditional weather conditions for shelter criteria.

Before the pandemic, the General Assistance Emergency Housing Program typically served about 250 individuals on any given night. Current eligibility is significantly expanded from pre-pandemic standards, and the program currently serves over 1,500 people. The Adverse Weather Condition policy allows people who do not meet current categorical eligibility to use the program, provided they meet the other eligibility requirements.

The General Assistance Emergency housing program is not an ideal setting for people experiencing homelessness. The State and DCF continue to work to help transition people who are in the program into stable, long-term housing, which is better for the health and safety of Vermonters.

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