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Tempers flare at the Econo Lodge

Multiple police cars and officers wearing face masks were spotted at the Econo Lodge late this afternoon. Photo by Mara Brooks.

Shelter guests are struggling with a “difficult situation” as state extends transition date

Police were called to the Econo Lodge in Montpelier today to assist in a dispute between two guests of the Good Samaritan Haven shelter, which has been operating out of the motel since mid-March. The guests involved in the dispute were separated and one of them was relocated to another hotel, said Good Samaritan Haven Director Rick DeAngelis.

“It’s a difficult situation for [the guests] to be in,” DeAngelis explained, adding that some shelter guests had a hard time adjusting to the state’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order.

DeAngelis said that, unlike the motel setting, the Good Samaritan Haven shelter offered “a very structured environment. There’s people around you, and guests have to leave during the day, too. So if you don’t get along with your neighbor, you don’t see your neighbor all day long.”

The state extended the deadline for transitioning shelter guests out of motels from May 15 to an undetermined date in the future, DeAngelis said. 

“I just heard about the extension today,” DeAngelis said. “It’s good news that we won’t have to suddenly figure out what to do with everyone come May 15th, but it’s also going to be challenging to continue operating the motels.”

DeAngelis said that, based on information he received earlier today, the state has planned “a very gradual transition” of guests from the motel to another form of housing. The Good Samaritan Haven shelters will only be permitted to operate “in a very reduced capacity,” DeAngelis said.

“For example, our shelter in Barre has a capacity of 30 (guests) and I think now we will have a capacity of maybe 10 or 12,” he said. 

DeAngelis said he hopes permanent housing options will be made available for those currently experiencing homelessness.

“Everybody’s dream is that somehow out of this, there’s the wherewithal to find the housing and the rental assistance and the support to move people into housing,” DeAngelis said. “But it’s a tall order.”  

No guests were injured in the dispute, DeAngelis said.