Middlebury board supports cold weather shelter

MIDDLEBURY — At their Tuesday meeting, the Middlebury selectboard unanimously agreed to support the effort by the social services agency Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects (HOPE) to secure state grants to help perpetuate the local cold weather shelter.
HOPE and leaders of the Charter House Coalition planned the shelter, which the Memorial Baptist Church hosted this past winter.
Doug Sinclair, leader of the Charter House Coalition board, told the selectboard the shelter was very successful. It provided food and housing for 32 individuals during its run from late November through March. The majority of those served suffered from mental health and/or substance abuse issues and were thus not eligible to be housed at the John Graham Emergency Shelter in Vergennes.
Sinclair noted the shelter saved the state some money in the form of hotel vouchers that would have been needed to accommodate these clients.
“We housed a lot of people and made a difference,” Sinclair said of the shelter, at which clients and organizers would chat and get together for an evening meal.
Sinclair acknowledged the effort did hit a few snags. There were a handful of occasions that called for clients to be taken to detox facilities in Rutland.
“We had to learn a lot from this year, and we did,” Sinclair said.
Plans call for the shelter to be based this coming winter at the Congregational Church of Middlebury’s Charter House, according to Sinclair. The Charter House has, for the past several years, been used as an overflow shelter for homeless families. It will continue to also serve that purpose, Sinclair said.

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