BURLINGTON -- The phones never stop ringing at Vermont Tenants Inc., which runs the state's only hotline for renters. But the program was forced to lay off its two advocates last fall because of federal budget cuts to the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity. Since November, callers and visitors to VTI's North Winooski Avenue office got a message saying the 22-year-old agency, which publishes the popular "Renting in Vermont Handbook," could no longer offer information or advice. The organization aided 1200 Vermont households last fiscal year.
The U.S. Senate in January restored funding to the Community Development Block Grant program, which funds VTI. This week, VTI's outgoing phone message finally changed. Ted Wimpey, CVOEO's director of statewide housing services, says that VTI advocate Pam Favreau is now taking calls, just in time for the spring student housing turnover. Call 864-0099 with your security deposit and roommate issues, and leave a message. Favreau will get back to you.
Until October, anyway -- this fiscal year ends in September, and it's possible that VTI will once again be on the chopping block.