Finally, Spring appears to have arrived in northern Vermont! Please be safe as you pursue outdoor activities and enjoy the landscape that we call home. In honor of Memorial Day, I want to remember those who gave their lives in service to our country and to their families for their sacrifice; although we are unable to have large, public events this year, those veterans will be foremost in our hearts this weekend.
The week began on a call with Commissioner Harrington of the Department of Labor regarding the latest update on Vermonters receiving UI/PUA/PEUC benefits. Another 2300 non-traditional claims were added to the system this week with the assistance of the Legislative Action Team – thank you to those legislators who gave their time to this important endeavor. As of today, much of the backlog has been resolved thanks to everyone working together.
In the House General Committee, we heard amendments to H.783, an act relating to Recovery Residences (formerly called Sober Houses), which is a Bill we have been working on for over a year now. We also heard an update on possible fixes for homelessness issues by the Executive Director of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and later in the week, by Commissioner Hanford of the Agency of Housing and Community Development.
Evening meetings of the Franklin and Highgate Selectboards involved discussion on needed roadwork, as well as Green-Up Day on May 30 (please see notices put out by your town), and a very successful Rabies Clinic run in Highgate recently.
The highlights of the week were the Governor’s announcements on re-opening Vermont, “Be Smart, Stay Safe”, and his proposed $310 million Economic Aid package. Funding is being discussed as I write this, with every Committee working to hear from advocates and officials as to what the needs vs funding restraints are. For my Committee, $50 miliion for housing-related issues is significant, and we want to make sure it is done right. $42 million is proposed to go towards a Rental Housing Stabilization Fund, which would offer rental assistance and arrearages that would benefit both renters and landlords, and $8 million is proposed to go towards a Re-Housing Recovery Fund that could offer rehabilitation grants and/or forgivable loans for up to 250 units throughout the state to re-house homeless families who are currently being housed in motels and at campgrounds. I look forward to being a part of these important conversations and having a chance to make a difference in all Vermonter’s lives as we move forward out of this financial crisis.
It is an honor to serve Franklin-5!
Rep Lisa A Hango