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CHT is working hard to ensure the safety of our 6,000 residents and 100 staff during the pandemic.
We have participated in and have helped lead a state and community response to identify vulnerable populations and find solutions, and to respond to the needs of our residents and homeowners with a goal of trying to prevent people from getting sick from or spreading the coronavirus, and to ensure that people are supported economically and socially.
This has come at a tremendous cost, and will result in ongoing financial stress for both the people we serve and our own organization. We have done everything we can to find resources for our residents, apply for federal funds and ensure continuity of service in our operations for the people that rely on us. We know that there will be gaps in funding or necessary activities that simply won’t fit into a program.
We have outlined our response below and are turning to private and public funders to support our efforts.
MARCH 3 – APRIL 10
COVID-19 Urgent Response
Harbor Place Homeless Surge Preparation
CHT transformed Harbor Place overnight to serve an isolation motel for people exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 that were living in congregate homes, shelters, tent encampments or on the street. We added around the clock staffing and security, fencing, social worker support, and meal and medication delivery, and worked with the broader service community to fill this immediate need to prevent the spread of the virus in this vulnerable population who could not practice social distancing or isolation.
Overtime and cleaning
CHT immediately deployed our maintenance staff to extra wiping down and cleaning of our multifamily properties door handles, common spaces, laundry rooms, elevators, and hallways. We contracted with a firm to “fog” common spaces and rooms at turnover, including at Harbor Place.
Tech start up
CHT purchased eight laptops to quickly get our staff up working remotely. While these will be long-term assets, the one-time costs were not budgeted for this year.
CHT purchased a van to add mobile coronavirus testing capacity to Chittenden County. This will be operated by the Community Health Centers of Burlington and be available to visit motels and other housing to test our most vulnerable.
MARCH 16 – TODAY
Ongoing and Critical Support for our Residents and Commercial Tenants
Additional Resident Services
CHT is responding to our tenants needs by making available two social workers to support residents through the financial, health, and emotional uncertainties caused by the pandemic, locate resources, and stabilize people in their housing. We are looking at adding a third social worker in this time of need. Our Property Managers are talking to every resident to determine what they need.
CHT is documenting the impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations broadly, including our residents, and our commercial tenants, homeowners, and staff in order to share with policy makers on the local, state and federal levels to ensure that the policy and funding response is enough and targeted appropriately.
CHT will not evict any tenant during this pandemic because of lost income or need to attend to their, or someone else’s, health needs. We will need to secure new resources to either the tenants or our properties to cover the loss in rent. We estimate the loss could be roughly $2.7 million over the next four months.
CHT’s staff are offering support to homeowners faced with trouble making mortgage and property tax payments. Staff are accessing training and researching options for homeowners to work with their lenders to avoid foreclosure or risking their financial health long into the future.
Photo creditBrian Wangenheim