BURLINGTON, Vt., July 25 (UPI) -- If shelters are full, homeless people out in the freezing cold or in the third trimester of pregnancy may stay in a motel room, Vermont officials said.
The rule written by the Department for Children and Families also allows people who are homeless because of fire or flooding, under threat of domestic abuse, collecting Social Security, older than 64 years of age or in a family with a child younger than 7 years of age to stay in a motel, the Burlington (Vt.) Free Press reported Wednesday.
People who don't immediately qualify under those conditions may also stay in a motel if they accrue four points in a system meant to assess one's "vulnerability," the rule states.
"The system awards applicants one point if they are a disabled veteran, were recently discharged from the custody of the Department for Children and Families, were recently released on probation or parole after spending at least a year in prison, have an open case with the Family Services Division, have applied for Social Security or receive Reach Up benefits," the wording of the rule says. "It awards them two points if they are either in a family with a child 7- to 17 years old or were recently discharged from a hospital after a stay of at least two days."
The state Legislature ordered the Department for Children and Families to draft the new rule after lawmakers reduced the state's budget for motel rooms for homeless people from $4 million to $1.5 million.
The Legislature's initial plan would have been far more restrictive, the Free Press said.
"We listened to our community partners and advocates," said Richard Giddings, deputy commissioner of the Department for Children and Families. "These were tough choices that were made to get us where we're at. We tried to revise it, and we're going to look at it on a month by month basis."