New Project Looks To Reduce Homelessness By Preventing Evictions

Nov 3, 2016

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.