On August 27, 2021, Good Samaritan Haven finalized its purchase of the Twin City Motel on the Barre-Montpelier Road in Berlin. The property will now be known as “Good Sam at Twin City.” The motel complex buildings are the first buildings Good Sam has acquired since buying its initial shelter in 1985. In addition to providing critically needed housing, Good Sam at Twin City will also be a major upgrade in how Central Vermont serves those who are temporarily experiencing homelessness.
“The pandemic has been a time of extraordinary upheaval, with a record number of unsheltered individuals of all ages seeking help night after night after night,” said Good Samaritan Haven Executive Director Rick DeAngelis. “Yet paradoxically, the community’s extraordinary outpouring of concern has created the opportunity to enact long overdue improvements in how we help our guests get their lives back on track. That is what we’ll be able to do with Good Sam at Twin City, and it is all thanks to the generosity of fellow Vermonters.”
Operating as a hub of services for those experiencing homelessness, the new property will provide 18 rooms with 35 beds and a welcome center for rest, essentials, and helpful service connections. The new property will also mark a positive step forward by:
● Providing a safe and trauma-informed (i.e., welcoming and attractive) building environment
● Allowing Good Sam to incorporate supportive services and day use capacity at the site
● Offering shelter with better privacy, which is both advantageous from a public health perspective and is directly responsive to our guests’ stated needs; and
● Positioning guests in an advantageous location near a bus stop on a main corridor between the county’s two population centers (near grocery stores, a health clinic, the hospital, and many other businesses).
“The additional beds are critically needed, but we are really excited by the dramatic shift in quality and the possibility of positive connections for our guests. By providing privacy, safety, and security versus the previous model of guests sleeping in crowded congregate conditions, we are vastly improving stability and support for those experiencing homelessness,” said DeAngelis. “This is a very important development for all of central Vermont.”
The acquisition of Twin City is especially important now as the state of Vermont has tightened eligibility standards for its motel voucher program which has paid for shelter for hundreds of Vermonters during the pandemic.
More than 300 individuals in Washington County are currently experiencing homelessness in shelters, motel rooms or on the streets.
The idea of establishing a hub for homelessness services arose from a consortium of agencies, faith-based groups, and others that work to address the issue in Washington County. Downstreet Housing is partnering with Good Samaritan Haven in the development of the project. Washington County Mental Health Services, Capstone Community Action, Family Center, and Turning Point Center of Central Vermont are service partners. The Town of Berlin has also been instrumental in the process, thanks to its timely review and approval of the project.
Thanks to significant funding from Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and generous donors, the purchase is final–but Good Samaritan Haven’s work is unfinished. Extensive improvements will be made to the property over the next several months including fire safety, energy efficiency, and development of a welcome center. The next phases will include property renovations, hiring staff, and continued fundraising efforts to pay for upkeep on the property and guest services.