Hyde Park, August 3, 2023 — Thanks to successful collaboration between neighbors, community members, and nonprofit organizations Lamoille Housing Partnership (LHP) and Lamoille Community House (LCH,) Lamoille County’s first and only year-round homeless shelter will soon open its doors in Hyde Park following resolution of a zoning permit appeal.
“Working in partnership with our communities, open communication and intentional collaboration are vital to solving Lamoille County’s interconnected affordable housing and homelessness challenges,” said outgoing LHP Executive Director Jim Lovinsky.
Shelter, security and hope
Lamoille Community House, a joint-effort between the two nonprofit organizations, will become a 21-bed shelter for adults experiencing homelessness. LHP is set to acquire and rehabilitate the former Forest Hill Residential Care Home in Hyde Park, transforming the facility to include guest bedrooms, a shared kitchen, and office space for area service providers to meet with clients in shelter. When the property’s rehabilitation work is complete, LCH will lease and operate the expanded facility as a year-round homeless shelter, offering the same services as the organization’s current 12-bed, seasonal shelter in the Village of Hyde Park.
Following the Town of Hyde Park development review board’s approval of LHP’s application, rehabilitation work was slated to begin in July 2023. However, an abutting property owner filed a zoning appeal, citing the Town had improperly issued a Certification of Notification to Adjoining Landowners. Since then, the project has been on hold while in litigation among lawyers representing LHP, LCH, the Town, and the appellant, Saul Costa.
Moving forward, as a community
“We understood that some community members had reservations about the shelter, so we held a community forum to address concerns and questions, and generate solutions supported by all parties,” said LCH Executive Director Kim Anetsberger. This effort spurred establishment of A Neighborhood Advisory Committee, which will function as a continuous space for Lamoille Community House’s neighbors as well as members of the greater community to be involved with the shelter, and will also act as a subcommittee to LCH’s board of directors.
Lovinsky and Anetsberger both emphasized appreciation and respect for Costa’s continuous engagement and role throughout the appeal process, acting as a conduit between the organizations and neighborhood to ultimately move the shelter forward. “This entire experience will help bring us closer as a community striving to be its best for all of its citizens,” says Anetsberger.
“I am satisfied with the outcome for all parties and believe that through this collaboration between LHP, LCH, and the community, this facility can provide a much-needed service to Lamoille County with minimal impact on local residents,” expressed Costa. “I appreciate LCH’s and LHP’s willingness to work together to address the community’s concerns and look forward to the successful implementation of the agreed-upon plan for a considerate facility administration.”
LHP says their goal is to open the shelter as soon as possible, “so that LCH can begin operating in their new space and continue supporting people without homes, vital work they’ve been doing since 2017.”
Lovinsky and Anetsberger each sought an appropriate site for a year-round shelter for several years. Not long after joining their organization’s efforts in 2022, an opportunity emerged when the Forest Hill Residential Care Home was listed for
sale by its owner Dave Andersen, who intended for the property to continue as a community resource. Lamoille Community House’s project funding comes from Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, 3E Thermal, and funds raised locally by LHP and LCH fundraising efforts. Construction will begin this September with occupancy slated for December 2023.
Homelessness in Lamoille County
According to the US Department of Housing & Urban Development’s (HUD) most recently conducted annual Point in Time Count, Vermont has the second-highest per-capita rate of homelessness in the country. In early August, homelessness advocates in Lamoille County reported 145 adults and 76 children were experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness in local communities. More than half of the 111 reported households were sheltering in a motel, tent, or vehicle, on the street, or in temporary shelter.
Lamoille Housing Partnership collaborates with communities to create and preserve quality affordable housing opportunities for lower and moderate income earning households in Hardwick and Lamoille County. Since 1991, the nonprofit organization has developed more than 350 income eligible, affordable rental homes. Learn more at www.lamoillehousing.org.
The Lamoille Community House offers shelter, security, and hope to adults experiencing homelessness. With dignity and kindness, we provide guests with a clean bed, nourishing meals, connection to services, and a safe space to discover their own path toward sustainable housing. www.lamoilleshelter.org.