Approximately two months ago, a tenant of mine applied for funds from the Vermont Emergency Rental Program, well before her August rent was due.
When a community partner submitted the application on her behalf, they inadvertently included one page of an application for a different client. Because of this, my tenant's entire application was marked as "fraudulent." It took four phone calls over several weeks to figure out why it was not being processed. In mid-August, I was assured her application was moving forward. However, three weeks after I was told that, I still do not have her August or September rent.
Every phone call, I speak to someone different at the program hotline. They tell me they just need "one more piece of information" in order to process the application, even though I have provided everything I have been asked for, as has my tenant.
Although I applaud Vermont's intention to support landlords and tenants during this complex time, this program has actually created more stress, tension and hopelessness for both landlords and tenants. I hope the Vermont State Housing Authority recognizes the position they are putting me and my tenant in. My tenant is now two months behind on rent. Meanwhile, I continue to have to pay a mortgage, property taxes and insurance on a property I am not receiving rent for.
With every new program, there are kinks to work out. However, it is a disservice to both landlords and tenants across the state to promise relief through a program that does not have a process of accountability or feedback — a program that is not constantly striving to do better by the Vermonters they claim to want to support. When it takes numerous phone calls to process a request and after eight weeks, it is still not complete, the "support" doesn't feel like much more than lip service.