Counseling Service buys Hill House from HOPE

MIDDLEBURY — As the group Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects (HOPE) saw the federal funding it used to fund a Middlebury transitional housing unit dry up, the Counseling Service of Addison County (CSAC) purchased the home to continue offering services there.
Addison County Community Action Group, doing business as HOPE, and CSAC announced the change of ownership of Hill House this week.
Hill House, at 290 Route 7, was formerly the Green Pastures nursing home. HOPE purchased and renovated the home in 1995 and has been responsible for property operations since then. CSAC has used the property to house homeless persons with disabilities, including mental health and addictions recovery issues. Funding for operations and support services has been partially provided by grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the McKinney-Vento program. Over the years, hundreds of people have achieved stability while residing at the property, and have since moved on to permanent housing.
HUD has now changed its priorities, shifting from chronically homeless single adults with mental illness toward other populations, and 2016 marks the last year of HUD funding. Faced with the choice of repurposing the facility or foregoing HUD funding, HOPE and CSAC agreed that the latter was preferable.
“Our most pressing housing need is for transitional housing for single adults coping with life impacting mental health conditions,” said CSAC Executive Director Robert Thorn. “Without Hill House, many people would continue living on the streets and in other stressful and unsafe locations. Hill House provides a setting that allows us to help people begin to address their housing barriers, obtain stability, recover and grow. Our partnership with HOPE has been incredibly productive in closing housing gaps and providing essential supports to some of our most vulnerable citizens.”
HOPE Executive Director Jeanne Montross noted her organization’s partnership with CSAC.
“We have had a long, productive relationship with the Counseling Service and appreciate their strong efforts to assist people faced with great challenges, with little or no income,” she said. “CSAC has shown great willingness and ability to house people with very high housing barriers. We are very pleased that they have taken on ownership of Hill House and that the property will continue to meet the mission for which it was created.”
The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) provided funding both when the property was purchased by HOPE in the 1990s, and again in 2007, when it was rehabilitated.
“Service-supported affordable housing like Hill House is a high priority for VHCB and the state of Vermont,” VHCB’s Rick DeAngelis said. “It is the most effective way to help homeless persons stabilize and lead productive lives. It’s also a good investment for the public reducing costly emergency services, hospital stays and police interventions.”
Frank Reed, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Mental Health, said he was happy to see the transition.
“Hill House has been an effective community asset,” he said. “I am pleased to see that the stewardship of this project will be assumed by the Counseling Services of Addison County.”

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