BENNINGTON — About 50 individuals gathered at the Bennington Museum last week to celebrate the coming expansion of Pathways Vermont’s Housing First program in Bennington County.
“The energy in the room was palpable, as speakers shared stories of how they came to be connected to Pathways and emotional stories of the work and impact of Pathways programs,” said Maria Moore, director of development and communications for Pathways Vermont.
Among the attendees were state Sens. Richard Sears and Brian Campion, and Select Board Chairwoman Jeannie Jenkins.
Those officials and others helped spearhead a community support campaign this spring to secure state funding for an expansion of Pathways Vermont’s Housing First program to assist the homeless into this area.
Housing First is an evidence-based, permanent supportive housing program that supports individuals to maintain independent housing and lead meaningful lives in their communities; it puts a roof over people’s heads, and then connects residents with services to address substance use, mental health, education and employment, among other needs.
The $390,000 in annual state funding will enable Pathways Vermont’s staff to work with 30 individuals or households experiencing chronic homelessness in the county.
Rogers said in April that Housing First “starts by getting folks off the street and out of motels and into permanent housing situations. From there they surround the person with multidisciplinary community support, psychiatry, peers, nursing, case workers and payee services to help folks heal and get back on their feet. I have watched this program serve our community, and it really does work.”
This program, which currently operates in six other Vermont counties and on a limited basis here, works to end homelessness and provide long-term community supports to participants.
“We are so excited and grateful to be able to expand our efforts into Bennington County,” said Moore in a statement. “Thank you to all who attended and continue to be a part of Pathways Vermont’s mission to end homelessness and provide innovative mental health alternatives.”
The organization’s stated mission is to end homelessness and provide innovative mental health alternatives. Pathways Vermont has been working in the state for 12 years.
“We practice a peer approach: We encourage and support our staff to be themselves, be real, be in it together, be humble, and be curious and hopeful in their relationships with service recipients,” Moore said.
More information is available at pathwaysvermont.org.