The Deeper Dig: Three days at the Travel Inn

Jessica Wong

The Travel Inn in Rutland is one of 75 motels around Vermont where state agencies are housing about 2,700 people who would otherwise be homeless. Photo by Mike Dougherty/VTDigger The Deeper Dig is a weekly podcast from the VTDigger newsroom. Listen below, and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify or anywhere you listen to […]

Motel facade
The Travel Inn in Rutland is one of 75 motels around Vermont where state agencies are housing about 2,700 people who would otherwise be homeless. Photo by Mike Dougherty/VTDigger

The Deeper Dig is a weekly podcast from the VTDigger newsroom. Listen below, and subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotify or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

An expanded state program to house homeless Vermonters in vacant hotel rooms has helped keep thousands safe during the pandemic. But the people living in these hotels say navigating social services is still a challenge — and they don’t know what to expect after the pandemic is over.

VTDigger’s Katie Jickling spent three days this month staying at the Travel Inn in Rutland, where most of the 36 rooms are occupied by those using Vermont’s emergency housing program. Guests there face difficulty finding work, and the path to stable housing is unclear for many.

Brandon Graton said the motel program was a “godsend,” but his disability payments don’t come close to paying for stable housing. “Navigate all you want, but if there ain’t no room for you, then there’s no room for you,” he said.

Those challenges could worsen when Covid recedes: The state is now seeking an exit strategy for the motel program, which has mainly been funded by federal coronavirus aid money. On this week’s podcast, Jickling talks to Travel Inn residents about how they’re grappling with an uncertain future.

Read more: ‘The best motel in Rutland’: Three days in Vermont’s emergency housing program

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