VLA in the Media
Some recent press mentions for Vermont Legal Aid
June 23, 2023 – Tight housing market leads to illegal application fees, rental scams
The Vermont Legislature in 1999 passed a law making it illegal for landlords or their agents to charge an application fee. Maryellen Griffin with Vermont Legal Aid says while these fees are not allowed, the issue still exists, and with it comes the risk of scams. “The application fees make it tempting for people to run scams, so a lot of people are losing money paying fees that aren’t owed anyways, but are not even going to a real landlord,” she said.
June 23, 2023 – Expungement clinic for Windsor County
An expungement clinic is scheduled for July 13, 2023, in Windsor County. More information on expungements is available at Vermont Legal Aid’s website at www.vtlawhelp.org/expungement.
June 22, 2023 – Statute of limitations on debt In Vermont
If you believe an unscrupulous debt collector is attempting to collect from you beyond the statute of limitations, contact Vermont Legal Aid for more information and advice. They can provide you with support and assistance in understanding your rights and how to handle any debt collector operating outside of the law.
June 1, 2023 – Judge denies effort to delay evictions from motel program
A Vermont Superior Court judge has denied a temporary restraining order sought by Vermont Legal Aid that would have blocked the eviction of roughly 800 unhoused individuals from a state-funded shelter program in motels.
June 1, 2023 – Motel checkouts underway as judge denies effort to block closure of voucher program
The class action case in Washington County Superior Court was brought by Vermont Legal Aid. During a hearing Thursday morning, lawyers for Vermont Legal Aid and the state sparred over if and when the pandemic-era housing program should wind down. “Our clients are harmed by the uncertainty they face which includes having no idea where they are going to be tomorrow,” Legal Aid lawyer Michael Benvenuto told the judge.
June 1, 2023 – Judge sides with state on hotel voucher injunction
Vermont Superior Court Judge Timothy Tomasi issued the ruling on Thursday, several hours after a hearing where he heard from attorneys representing Vermont Legal Aid, as well as lawyers defending the Department for Children and Families, and the Agency of Human Services.
June 1, 2023 – Vermonters leave motels as judge refuses to block evictions
“Most of these folks don’t have anywhere else to go, and we’re concerned about their survival and their well-being,” Legal Aid attorney Laura Gans told the judge. “Being without a shelter is dangerous, destabilizing, dehumanizing.”
June 1 2023 – After last-ditch legal effort fails, hundreds of unhoused Vermonters are evicted from motel program
In an attempt to buy more time for people being pushed out of motels, Vermont Legal Aid filed a class-action suit earlier this week. But on Thursday afternoon, a Vermont Superior Court judge denied the temporary restraining order sought by the nonprofit legal group for low-income Vermonters.
June 1, 2023 – End of pandemic 'hotel motel' program leaving people without a place to go
Vermont Legal Aid attempted to stop the Agency of Human Services from terminating this pandemic program, but the Vermont Superior Court denied that request on Thursday.
May 30, 2023 – Vermont Legal Aid sues to keep homeless hotel program from closing
Vermont Legal Aid on Tuesday filed a class action lawsuit against the state of Vermont in an effort to keep the emergency hotel program from closing.
May 30, 2023 – Vermont Legal Aid files suit to block motel evictions
Lawyers with Vermont Legal Aid filed a class-action lawsuit against state officials on Tuesday, a last-ditch effort to stop the imminent eviction of homeless people living in motels as part of a pandemic-era housing program.
May 30, 2023 – Vermont sued over ending hotel voucher program
Vermont Legal Aid has filed a class action lawsuit against the state in the hope of stopping or stalling the end of a housing program used to shelter the otherwise homeless during the pandemic.
May 23 2023 – Vermont Medicaid expected to start paying dentists more
“We have such a crisis of people in real pain and they can’t find a dentist,” Fisher said, adding that access to dental care is one of the top issues about which people call his office for help. “People are really struggling,” he said.
May 22 2023 – Sandra Paritz: Please tax me more to keep people from dying
This commentary is by Sandra Paritz, director of the Poverty Law Project of Vermont Legal Aid, based in Montpelier.
May 16, 2023 – City looks to water shutoffs
Shutoffs led to a lawsuit against the city in 2010, when Vermont Legal Aid represented a woman forced from her home when her water was shut off over her landlord’s refusal to pay. That lawsuit was settled for $30,000 and an agreement to rewrite city ordinances to give households with a child younger than 13 additional notice prior to the shutoff and to make sure tenants are notified in advance.
May 11, 2023 – Residents of unit at The Meadows being evicted for 'no cause'
The website VTLawHelp.org, a joint initiative of Vermont Legal Aid and Legal Services Vermont, has a page dedicated to landlord-tenant law and what to do in the case of an eviction.
May 8 2023 – State auditor’s powers remain limited as legislation lingers in committee
The need resonated with Mike Fisher, the state’s health care advocate, who serves in that position under a state contract with Vermont Legal Aid. “It seems obvious to us that in order for the auditor to protect state dollars, taxpayer dollars, they have to be able to follow those monies to a private contractor that is working on behalf of the state,” Fisher told the committee in testimony.
April 30, 2023 – Wiping criminal records in Vermont through expungement
More information on the expungement process can be found through Vermont Legal Aid.
April 24, 2023 – Repeat offender’s growing rap sheet raises questions about mental health, justice system
Jack McCullough, who works for Vermont Legal Aid ..., is worried people with developmental disabilities will be put there, too, and he says lawmakers should put more resources into community mental health centers to treat mental health before it becomes a criminal justice issue.
April 23, 2023 – Tenants face 26% rent hike in Thetford
Luckily, there’s Vermont Legal Aid, which helps low-income residents with civil legal problems, including tenants facing eviction cases in court. Their services are free.
April 21, 2023 – Lawmakers talking about creating a new facility for individuals who are accused of violent crimes, but aren’t competent to stand trial
“For the last several years we’ve heard the Department of Mental Health and the hospitals clamoring for the creation of more hospital beds," McCullough said. "This proposal takes nine hospital beds offline, and I really don’t get that."
April 20, 2023 – Forensic facility may share building with psychiatric hospital
But Jack McCullough, who directs mental health legal representation at Vermont Legal Aid, said there is no need for a separate facility for people accused of a crime. “This bill is a solution in search of a problem,” he told the judiciary committee last week.
April 11, 2023 – Nearly three-quarters of Vermont’s school districts are under scrutiny for special education. What’s going wrong?
“It is serious,” said Rachel Seelig, Vermont Legal Aid's Disability Law Project director. “I do think that the state needs to be putting a lot of time and effort into getting students the services and support they need.”
April 4, 2023 – Health clinic gets $500K to set up primary care residency program
Mike Fisher, who works for Vermont Legal Aid as the state’s chief health care advocate, said on Tuesday that his office often hears from people who can’t find a primary care provider.
April 4, 2023 – Vermont, other states to resume checking Medicaid eligibility; recipients need to make sure info is updated
Mike Fisher, chief health care advocate at the Office of the Health Care Advocate with Vermont Legal Aid, said that about 200,000 Vermonters will need to go through this Medicaid verification process. He likewise said there’s no way to accurately say how many of those folks might no longer qualify for Medicaid.
March 16, 2023 – Lawmakers mull ‘threat assessment teams’ in school safety bill
“Our kids aren’t ‘threats’ to be assessed,” said Rachel Seelig, who directs the Disability Law Project at Vermont Legal Aid. “They are children who need to be supported.
March 16, 2023 – Brattleboro police search for recently released mentally ill man
Jack McCullough, project director at Vermont Legal Aid, told Hayes he has communicated to DMH that “it’s precisely the people who are the most difficult to provide services for who need their help the most.”
March 12, 2023 – Landlord’s unpaid water bill leads to tenant lawsuit
The town turned the water back on after a doctor’s note certifying Hannon’s health issues. But the case is still pending in court and is being handled by Vermont Legal Aid staff.
March 10, 2023 - Care board pushes off vote on inpatient psychiatric care funds
The Daily Reformer:
Eric Schultheis, an attorney with Vermont Legal Aid’s Office of the Health Care Advocate, called the situation an opportunity for the board to consider whether it has ever fully utilized the power that the legislature gave it.
March 6, 2023 – New contract gives UVM Medical Center technical staff higher pay
While pay increases may lead to higher health care costs for patients, having a well-trained workforce at full strength is also essential, said Mike Fisher, chief health care advocate at Vermont Legal Aid. “It’s a double-edged sword,” he said.
March 5 2023 – In a slate of new bills, Vermont lawmakers take a hard look at domestic and sexual violence
At a Wednesday hearing on H.27, Rachel Seelig, a lobbyist for Vermont Legal Aid, said she fears that abusers could weaponize an expanded definition of abuse, gaslighting their victims and lodging their own abuse allegations in court. Legal Aid already sees this occur when legally representing victims, she said.
March 4, 2023 – COVEcast: Ombudsman Project promotes dignity, independence
Community of Vermont Elders (COVE):
Kaili Kuiper and Michelle Carter, who work for the Vermont Long-Term Care Ombudsman Project, were our guests for this episode of COVEcast.
February 17, 2023 – State increases oversight of Springfield schools due to special eduction violations
Rachel Seelig, director of Vermont Legal Aid’s Disability Law Project, said it is “pretty unusual” for school districts to be placed under targeted monitoring.