The letter of Stephen Whitaker of June 1 speaking against the Good Samaritan Haven (Good Sam) requires the strongest rebuttal.

There is a lot of talk about homelessness, but Good Sam takes action. For 35 years, Good Sam has protected life by providing shelter and core services to persons experiencing homelessness. During the COVID-19 pandemic with the support of its many partners, Good Sam has performed numerous critical roles, including relocating shelter guests to motels, providing critical services in motels, operating a street outreach program to the unsheltered, operating an overflow shelter at the Christ Church Episcopal last winter and reopening and safely operating other shelters. Good Sam is currently operating a mobile testing and vaccination clinic targeted to the homeless and other underserved. The leadership of Good Sam, from the executive director to shelter managers to caseworkers to AmeriCorps staff, put not only their energies but also their insights and ideas into concrete practice, making a way for people to find shelter, housing and homes.

Throughout the difficult challenges of the pandemic, Good Sam found a way to advance the development of a “hub,” a service-enriched emergency housing facility. Now, in partnership with Downstreet Housing and Community Development, Good Sam is seeking approvals from the local and state officials for the development of the Twin City Motel as the “hub.”

Please join us supporting the advancement of this much-needed project. The “hub” is a top priority of the Washington County Continuum of Care (the coordinating body of homelessness services in the county) and is broadly supported by area service agencies, our faith communities and local officials. This is a facility and strategy that can provide the link between the streets and secure long-term housing.

In his broad sweep of inaccuracy, Whitaker also criticizes the Montpelier Homelessness Task Force. The Task Force is an advisory body to the City of Montpelier. In a short time, it has maintained a productive spotlight on homelessness in Montpelier, advancing important funding and other initiatives including: the extended operation of the Bethany Church overflow shelter in 2019-20, the establishment of a Street Outreach program, funds for emergency transportation and other initiatives.

Mr. Whitaker has many ideas which could support what he calls homemaking. He shares specific strategies and projects that could improve quality of life and provide dignity. Such projects can certainly be considered. However, they are not substitutes for the current plan for a hub at Twin City.

Finally, Mr. Whitaker’s personal attacks against our colleagues not only misrepresent the tireless and dedicated work to-date, but also serve to undermine the very housing security that Mr. Whitaker purports to support. We reject such disparaging criticism. We know the Good Sam leadership and the Montpelier Housing Task Force efforts to be trustworthy, fair, even-handed and humane.

Fr. Pat Forman

Rev. Rachel Fruamann and concerned members of Hedding United Methodist Church

Rev. Carl Hilton VanOsdall and concerned members of First Presbyterian Church of Barre

Rev. Leigh McCaffrey and concerned members of Barre Congregational Church

Theresa Lever, First Congregational Church of Berlin

David Sanguinetti, Lay Leader, Barre Unitarian Universalist Church

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