I was appalled by the comments of Miranda Gray, deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department for Children and Families economic services division, about the state’s unwillingness to further intervene in the return of security deposits to individuals in the hotel/motel transitional housing program. 

Although this Covid relief money might have seemed like a windfall to the state, it was funded by the American taxpayers for the purpose of helping individuals meet their basic human needs in a public health emergency. 

They were certainly not intended as a handout to motel owners, who have already been able to name their own price to house these individuals with little apparent pushback from the state. For the state to abdicate its duty to safeguard taxpayer funds, and just treat that duty as a legal matter between private parties, is a slap in the face to all of us.

In small claims court, these matters will be heard one by one, with no opportunity for the state to exert its regulatory heft to address what might be a more systemic issue. And that’s assuming these homeless individuals, whose lives have likely been plunged into crisis, even have the capacity to pursue a legal matter to its conclusion. 

If the state is terminating the transitional housing program, the least it can do is ensure the security deposits these individuals could use to make a fresh start elsewhere are not misappropriated under the pretext of dubious claims for damage to their motel rooms.

Benjamin Gould

South Burlington

Pieces contributed by readers and newsmakers. VTDigger strives to publish a variety of views from a broad range of Vermonters.