Vermont Refugees Could Benefit from Proposed Covid-19 Relief Bill

The Vermont House and Senate are preparing to pass a fast-track Covid-19 relief bill in the coming weeks that could include aid for low-income  families, grants for businesses impacted by the pandemic, and funding for affordable housing and schools to bring children back up to grade level.

Among the possible recipients are the Association of Africans Living in Vermont and the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, with $350,000 designated for translation services related to the pandemic and to help immigrant and refugee families access workforce development projects and benefit programs.

The total cost of the bill the House Appropriations Committee is assembling is $60-$65 million.  The goal is to finalize the bill by February 26.  Rep. Mary Hooper (D-Montpelier), who chairs the Committee, said “Our construct was to do what . . . cannot wait for the normal budgeting process.  Are there people who are in trouble or needs that need to be met before the budget is going forward . . .”  The fast-track relief bill would provide funding for programs that have time-specific needs.

Senate President Pro Temore Becca Balint, D-Windham said the Senate is also considering funding for housing projects that need to be completed in the coming building season.  Balint said she’s aiming to get the relief bill to Governor Scott in two to three weeks.

In the meantime CVRAN will follow the bill closely and hope to provide advocacy for the refugees who might soon benefit from some of the projects it will fund.