homelessness


THE CHARTER HOUSE Coalition’s Middlebury shelter is currently at capacity with 21 guests. The John W. Graham Emergency Shelter in Vergennes is also fully occupied.
MIDDLEBURY — Under normal circumstances, Anne Heather — who is homeless — wouldn’t have the wherewithal to stay even one night at the Courtyard By Marriott Hotel. She recently marked her one-year anniversary as an accidental guest at the Middlebury hotel, courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic and the state of Vermont. Anne Heather arrived at the Marriott on May 12, 2020. She was among dozens of homeless individuals and families who could no longer be accommodated in conventional shelters due to the prospect of coronavirus contagion in congregate settings. Though now lodged in a nice hotel, Anne...

HEIDI LACEY WAS recently hired as executive director of the Charter House Coalition’s warming shelter at 27 North Pleasant St. in Middlebury. She and her staff are currently caring for 17 homeless individuals under special protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic. Independent photo/John Flowers
MIDDLEBURY — The Charter House Coalition’s (CHC) warming shelter at 27 North Pleasant St. is pushing through this nasty winter stretch with a new leader, added professional staff and a dedicated corps of volunteers who are ensuring homeless folks from all walks of life are kept warm and well fed during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Recently hired Executive Director Heidi Lacey on Feb. 1 provided this reporter with a masked, socially distanced tour of the remodeled shelter space, currently hosting 17 guests. Prior to COVID, the shelter had been equipped to accommodate up to 40 persons (...

A HOMELESS WOMAN camped out next to the Middlebury Police Department from Jan. 12-13 in an episode that local officials say epitomizes a local gap in services for homeless, mentally ill individuals. Photo courtesy of Middlebury Police
MIDDLEBURY — Folks walking past the Middlebury police station off Seymour Street during the night of Jan. 12-13 caught an unusual and disturbing sight. A woman camped out in a snow bank, just a few feet away from warmth, nourishment and companionship. It’s not that police were oblivious to her presence; they repeatedly offered her food, shelter, cellphone service and/or transportation to a place of her choice. But the woman, suffering from mental illness, rebuffed all offers of aid. Moreover, her mental health issues did not rise to the level of qualifying her for an emergency evaluation by...

JESS HORNER, JGHS’s clinical service coordinator, has seen first-hand the impacts COVID is having on homeless people entering the shelter.
VERGENNES — Vergennes-based John Graham Housing & Services (JGHS) is busy preparing itself, and its clients, for an arduous Vermont winter during which homeless people will have the added challenge of finding services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, JGHS and other shelters throughout the state are being given more resources to care for homeless persons who are, in some cases, showing up in a more fragile state as a result of a virus that is making them feel more isolated than usual, local advocates reported this week. Jess Horner, JGHS’s clinical service coordinator, has seen...

MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE STUDENTS Ali DePaolo, left, Ryan Ashe and Jack Eschert recently dropped off more than 20 boxes of nonperishable food items to the Charter House Coalition’s warming shelter in Middlebury to feed the local homeless population. Eschert organized the food drive, which he hopes will be the first of many. Photo courtesy of Doug Sinclair
MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury College sophomore Jack Eschert has been helping others for about as long as he can remember. It probably started when, at age 5, he joined the Cub Scouts in his hometown of Avon, Conn. “That experience opened my eyes to a lot of things,” Eschert, now 20, said during a recent phone interview. “Growing up in a suburban town in Connecticut, it’s very easy to lose sight of everything outside the suburban-town bubble.” He’s busted through that bubble in a big way, and Middlebury-area homeless are the beneficiaries. Eschert, with help from fellow students Ali DePaolo and...
Victor Guyette held up a photo of his daughter, Yvonna, on his smartphone. She was sitting on the shoulders of a fellow Marine Corps member, both wearing their camouflage uniforms. Yvonna was flexing her melon-sized biceps.  “I got her into weightlifting when she was about 10 and she took to it. She could kill me,” Guyette said with a laugh, sitting on the edge of his bed at the Holiday Inn in South Burlington.  He’s a short and stocky man with gray hair that also protrudes in flecks on his cheeks. His eyes don’t look tired when he talks about his kids. His daughter had just graduated from...
MIDDLEBURY — Charter House Coalition (CHC) officials are targeting Monday, June 8, to reopen the organization’s warming shelter at 27 North Pleasant St. in Middlebury. The shelter has been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, leaders of the John Graham Housing & Services shelter in Vergennes have set the same date for restarting the city-based shelter. Doug Sinclair, co-director of the CHC, said the warming shelter will resume operations with up to 15 guests (instead of the usual 40), while observing strict social distancing rules. Moreover, the shelter will...
MIDDLEBURY — Leaders of the Charter House Coalition (CHC) want people to know that work continues on behalf of the homeless even though the shelter at 27 North Pleasant St. in Middlebury remains closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If anything, coalition staff and volunteers are working even harder these days. That’s because the homeless must now be delivered food and a myriad of other services at area hotels and motels, where they are temporarily residing in isolation to reduce their chances of catching, or spreading, the coronavirus. “The context of ‘closed’ has been taken by many to mean...
MIDDLEBURY — Concerns about the spread of coronavirus prompted the Charter House Coalition (CHC) to close its warming shelter on Saturday, March 21, but homeless individuals continued to be served in Addison County. The CHC sent its remaining guests to local motels and hotels, including the Courtyard by Marriott, and the John Graham Emergency Shelter in Vergennes continues to keep its doors open. Doug Sinclair, CHC co-director, explained the traffic in and out of the shelter made the shelter too vulnerable to COVID-19 contagion. The shelter accommodates overnight guests who are served by...

ROBBIE MILLER, KITCHEN manager of Charter House Coalition’s warming shelter at 27 North Pleasant St. in Middlebury, chats with two guests on Thursday. Shelters in Middlebury and Vergennes are changing protocols to continue to help the homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic. Independent photo Steve James
UPDATE: The Charter House warming shelter has closed. Click here to read the story. MIDDLEBURY — Addison County homeless shelters continue to stay open for business, and they’re working in concert with area lodgers to house those most apt to get very sick if they were to contract the coronavirus. JOHN GRAHAM SHELTER John Graham Housing & Services (JGHS) can accommodate up to 25 homeless individuals at its Vergennes shelter. In addition, the nonprofit owns and operates a combined total of 12 affordable apartment units in Vergennes, Middlebury and Bristol. As usual, JGHS is full, but...

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Addison County Independent