Here is a sampling of voicemails received from Vermonters who need help accessing the VERAP rent assistance program. Client names and identifying details have been removed. These clients have allowed us to share these transcribed messages.
January 26, 2022
“It would be nice if VERAP took some responsibility for misleading me through this whole process. I've been in contact with them since August of 2021 and they've been misguiding me through this whole process. They told me what to do and I followed every instruction and assured me and reassured me time and again as I went through this step by step with them and instructed that I couldn't get deposit help unless I had a signed lease and that they would help me ONLY by reimbursing the deposit of $1700, even after I explained to them that I would have to borrow the money. And now they want to invalidate the UHauls they told me to rent, and the money to pay my moving costs because the lease isn't good enough? I was so concerned with where I was going to go and to now be on the streets and I paid too much attention to the move in date that I didn't notice the move out date or ask questions. I didn't even know I was taking over someone else's lease until I talked to the landlord about the letter you requested.
I just feel that if they went back and listened to the 'recorded calls' on their own phone line then they would understand better but they don't seem to care. I feel very cast aside and I'm not sure why they are doing this to me but they've put me in a very bad financial position, and I'm disabled. I now have to find a way to pay these debts and live on social security. What exactly is this program for? I'm sorry but it's been hard to even get someone to listen and now they are doing this.”
October 15, 2021
“Hi, my name is xxx. ... Unemployment has not been issuing me a check for the last 13 weeks, so I filed and it's in review. I'm 4 months behind in my rent, 3 months behind on my bank loan, and 2 months behind in my electric bill. ... My well-being is extremely tenuous at this point.”
“I need help with an appeal for VERAP. I had an appointment on September xx at 3:30. I waited [for them to call] till 4:30, and called them. They said I couldn't be fit in because other cases ran long. I waited 3 weeks for this appointment. She said I should go online and reschedule. I was told there would be no problem getting a quick appointment. There were none available. I called back today to see what to do. I was told there is no record of my appointment on September xx. I could really use some help. I have been very sick for most of the summer. I am way behind on my rent.”
“Hello, this is xxx. Still having problems with the VERAP application. You guys helped me with a problem before. But they're going full-circle and still trying to tell me that I need contact with my landlord, which I was told by you guys that I didn't need. Get back to me as soon as you can, because we're running low on time here.”
“I'm a 62-year-old disabled man with PTSD, and in June, my caretaker, xxx, filled out the information for rent and help with Green Mountain Power. Green Mountain Power was by yesterday and I spoke with a gentleman. ... [My caretaker] has worked full-time on this to try to help me get the help that I need to pay off 4 - 5 months rent, and almost a $2,000 electric bill ... I called [VERAP] yesterday and they told me that they couldn't even find my application, and [a woman at VERAP] said she would get back to me, but this has been an ongoing thing since June. They sent me an email saying we were approved, then they said denied, then they say approved, then they say denied, and on October xx, we got to appeal it or something like that. [My caretaker] can't even get on ... to the website to find out who to speak to or anything. Like I said, they said they couldn't find my application. This has been going on since June ... and this has caused a lot of stress in my life, a lot of stress in [my caretaker's] life. ... We need somebody to get a hold of whoever it is down there to find out what's going. Because like I said, they approved us, and then they denied us, approved, denied. ... This is getting to be ridiculous. I need help. ... I just want to get my landlord paid for the four months that I owe and get my Green Mountain bill paid for. I'm on oxygen here at night, and I just can't have my electricity going off here. Like I said, Green Mountain Power has been here, and my landlord has been here. Everybody wants their money, and I'm getting nowhere here.”
“Hello. My name is xxx. I am calling because I sent in my form for the Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program and I sent in my recertification on July xx. I am getting the run-around from them. I still haven't gotten any answers. Rent is coming up due again and I am not sure what's going on. Could somebody please call me back to try to help me with this issue.”