Posted by Carrie Fenn on Nov 25, 2020

Michael Monte is our speaker today. Michael is Champlain Housing Trust COO. He will be taking over as CEO when the current CEO retires. He has over 40 years community and economic development experience, and was the head of Burlington’s CEDO office for many years.

November 25, 2020

Bob Sanders, Carrie Fenn, Rosalyn Graham, Linda Barker, Erik Kolomaznik, Sam Feitelberg, Linda Gilbert, France LeBlanc, Susan Grimes, Ric Flood, John Pane, Charlie Kofman, Chris Davis, John Hammer, Jim Donovan, Denis Barton, Carole Obuchowski, Jessica Brumstead, Margo Casco, Bill Deming, Jonathan Lowell, John Dupee, Dan York, Joan Lenes, Terry Kennaugh, Diana Vachon, 

Guests: Tracy Beaudin, Tom Candon, Deanie Gallipeau

Prayer of Gratitude offered by Susan Grimes:

Creator, open our hearts
to peace and healing between all people.

Creator, open our hearts
to provide and protect for all children of the earth.

Creator, open our hearts
to respect for the earth, and all the gifts of the earth.

Creator, open our hearts
to end exclusion, violence, and fear among all.

Thank-you for the gifts of this day and every day.


Denis Barton asked what our favorite author was and a great conversation ensued.  There was a suggestion to invite some authors as speakers.


Just under 2000 pounds of turkey went out to the Charlotte and Shelburne Food Shelves for Thanksgiving. Amazing!! Volunteers delivered over 500 meals to kids experiencing food insecurity. 

Cut off for coats is Monday November 30, so we may get an influx of donations.

Adam was on the news talking about what he was buying for Thanksgiving.


Carole is still looking for donations for the Rotary Foundation. Her address is 370 Longmeadow Drive, Shelburne VT 05482. She’ll be accepting donations until December 31.


Charlie has $600 in donations to Light the Night, and is trying to reach $1000. Donations can be sent to Charlie Kofman 86 Mariner’s Cove, Shelburne VT 05482. 


Michael Monte is our speaker today. Michael is Champlain Housing Trust COO. He will be taking over as CEO when the current CEO retires. He has over 40 years community and economic development experience, and was the head of Burlington’s CEDO office for many years.

CHT was established in the mid-80’s along with the Community Land Trust and the Lake Champlain Housing Authority. CLT was focused on home ownership, and CHA was focused on rental housing. Both non-profits realized they were on the same track and merged in 1986. It is the largest non-profit in the country focused on home insecurity. CHT has direct management of about 2400 apartments, 650 shared homeownership units. Owners are provided with a subsidy which gets returned and equity is kept by the homeowner when they sell. The subsidy is paid forward. 115 people work for the organization with an $8.5 million budget. The organization also property manages several properties they don’t own, and much of their activity is focused on development.


Since COVID hit, CHT immediately responded with IT innovations so office staff could work from home. Essential worker protocols were shifted to keep people safe when making repairs, accepting checks and other needs. Evictions were stayed, and communication with tenants ramped up. 


CHT ramped up its homeless response. Large numbers of homeless folks started showing up, and over 2000 people were in hotels. The state had an incredible response housing the homeless and only a couple of people tested positive. 2000 people in hotels is not a housing system and different programs kicked in. CHT bought a minivan and provided it to the Community Health Center to deliver services. The state asked CHT to turn Harbor Place into a homeless shelter for folks who needed to quarantine or had symptoms. They made several innovations including a “creemee window” for pick ups, a fence to keep people safe and ramped up security. It turned into a quarantine facility as opposed to a homeless shelter. They talked to the state about the COVID relief funds and said they really needed to shore up housing for those people in hotels. CHT was able to use the funds to purchase the Baymont, in Essex, and renovated it into apartments for 45 families; Handy’s Suites in Colchester, for 25 families who are victims of domestic violence and need shelter through STEPS; and the HoHum on Williston Road where they moved the COVID isolation facility from Harbor Place. CHT is contracted by HHS to talk to people daily, checking in with people who may need to enter quarantine. 


CHT has provided loans to landlords to renovate empty units to provide support to lower and moderate income people, sold more shared equity homes in the last three months than ever before. The work has been intensive and dramatic. 


A lot of renters found themselves without jobs, and a lot of people have stopped looking for work. The state has a program that provides rental assistance which has helped with that, and CHT has provided food assistance for food insecure families. 


Harbor Place was focused on COVID and quarantine, but is now focused on people experiencing homelessness. Some people are self-paying but most are coming from state programs. 


CHT hires social workers who can provide onsite support to the 2000 people in the hotel system to help them transition out and get into permanent housing. Michael expects a bit of a cliff in January when much of the COVID support ends, including federal support to the state for social services and unemployment. 


Jessica noted that she works on unemployment issues with the House and there’s a lot of worry about when funds run out. We have about 1400 homeless folks in the state. Many people who would be able to stay with friends weren’t able to do that because of COVID and were pushed into the homeless system.  There’s a 2% vacancy rate in Chittenden County, which means it’s very difficult for people to find housing. 


We are donating Tightrope by Nicholas Kristoff to the Pierson Library in honor of Michael’s speaking with us today. 


John Hammer and Linda Gilbert shared what they’ve heard about Honduras and the hurricane. Bridges are compromised and services have been disrupted. Housing for displaced individuals is occurring under a bridge!! Classrooms we’ve built are fine and they have been being used as a shelter. As people’s housing situation improves they are able to move out of the shelters. Linda is raising money for the Red Cross, to help outfit the ambulances with tires and gas to reach the rural communities, and food for families. The hurricane has devastated the area, but a new baby was born yesterday at the NICU hospital and the people believe God will keep them safe. 


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Respectfully submitted,

Carrie Fenn