BARRE — A longtime advocate for affordable housing and the homeless has been appointed as the new executive director of the Good Samaritan Haven.
News of the appointment of Rick DeAngelis on Thursday came in a release from the homeless shelter’s board of directors, which DeAngelis joined in 2017 and was its chairman before his appointment.
“Rick has a wealth of knowledge of effective housing and service strategies as well as firsthand experience of working with people in need as Montpelier’s Town Service Officer for many years,” said Melissa Battah, the new board chair.
DeAngelis replaces Rob Farrell, who had been in the position since May and previously worked as the shelter’s program director for nine months. DeAngelis said Farrell resigned “because he needed a more robust benefits package than we could offer at this time.”
The Good Samaritan Haven is central Vermont’s only year-round homeless shelter with 30 beds and also operates winter overflow shelters at the Hedding United Methodist Church in Barre with 14 beds and the Bethany Church in Montpelier with 20 beds.
The Good Samaritan Haven also has partnered with Another Way on Barre Street in Montpelier, a peer-led nonprofit that helps support the homeless, unemployed or people suffering with addiction or mental health problems and provides a daytime facility to help keep the homeless warm, along with evening warming shelters at local churches.
DeAngelis joined the board of Another Way in 2010 and served as its chairman for five years, during which he helped complete a $750,000 renovation of the facility and helped raise funding for phase two of the project.
DeAngelis is also a member of the Montpelier Homelessness Task Force Committee, which was launched last year to meet the needs of a growing homeless population in the city.
His appointment to the position at Good Samaritan Haven also marks the end of a significant stretch for DeAngelis as an associate housing director with the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board in Montpelier, a position he has held since 1993. He has been intimately involved in supporting nonprofit affordable housing programs throughout the state.
“Time for a change, after 26 years,” DeAngelis said. “I’ve done a lot of housing stuff over the years.”
DeAngelis said he had been managing the VCHB’s housing stewardship program for the last five years, overseeing 14,000 units of housing that require constant monitoring and attention.
“I’m very proud of my time there, but it was a convergence of things and Good Sam needs stability,” DeAngelis said, adding that he felt the need to step in to continue ongoing work and future plans for the shelter organization. “So, I’m not going to do this forever – I’m too old for that – but I can give them a good amount of time to continue with the progress and make sure that we have stable management, and then at some point, we’ll find someone else.”
DeAngelis said he will start in the position part-time for about six weeks before working full-time.
Judi Joy, shelter and volunteer manager at the Good Samaritan, said she was thrilled about DeAngelis’ appointment.
“I’m really sad that Rob (Farrell) is leaving, because I really loved working with Rob ... he has such heart,” Joy said. “I don’t know Rick (DeAngelis) very well, but I know he is committed to the cause ... and I think it will be wonderful working with him.”
Ken Russell, chairman of the Montpelier Homelessness Task Force Committee, also welcomed DeAngelis’ appointment.
“I think Rick does fantastic work and he’s been at this a long time,” Russell said. “Throughout this whole process as we’ve emerged, he’s been a real stalwart presence, bringing wisdom and expertise and a clear-eyed view of the challenges faced by the different organizations involved.
“He’s realistic and I think it’s a fantastic thing for everyone, all round,” he added.
From 1987 to 1993, DeAngelis was the first executive director of the former Central Vermont Community Land Trust, which became Downstreet Housing and Community Development. During his time there, the organization bought and rehabilitated 100 units of multi-family rental housing, including the North Branch and Barre Street apartment complexes in Montpelier and focused on the housing needs of low-income families and people with special housing needs.
DeAngelis previously worked as housing staff with Pine Street Inn in Boston from 1983 to 1986, providing a range of emergency shelter and transitional services for men and women.
Other voluntary work he has done included: being the Montpelier Town Services Officer from 2009 to 2017, helping individuals with extreme support services’ needs; being a member of the Montpelier Housing Task Force from 1999 to 2008; serving on the board and fundraising for Central Vermont Habitat for Humanity from 1995 to 2004; and hosting a weekly meditation group with Montpelier Mindfulness Community.