Skip to main content

VLA in the Media

Some recent press mentions for Vermont Legal Aid

7/6/2024 Barton woman regains home in tax sale settlement, sparking legal reform

Newport Dispatch: 
Greg Fox, Flynn’s attorney, expressed satisfaction with the outcome. “We are thrilled that Ms. Flynn will be getting her property back and the financial security that it represents,” Fox said. Grace Pazdan, Director of VLA’s Homeowner Legal Assistance Project, added that the case “should put cities and towns on notice that taking taxpayer’s equity via tax sale comes with significant legal risk.”

6/21/2024 Lawsuit settled as Town agrees to return Plantiff’s home

Caledonian Record:
Represented by Vermont Legal Aid, Penny Flynn sued the town of Barton and the village of Orleans in U.S. District Court.

6/18/2024 Village of Orleans settles lawsuit over property seizure

Vermont Legal Aid represented Penny Flynn, a local retired resident who fell $6,500 behind on her taxes. The town ended up seizing the $80,000 house as part of a property tax sale.

5/31/2024   Expungement clinic at Springfield Library

Vermont Journal:
Join Vermont Legal Aid for an expungement clinic.

5/31/2024   Senior Solutions and BRGNS Age Successfully Fair

Vermont Journal: 
The fair is an opportunity for older Vermonters to learn about and sign up for wellness-based goods and services, with over 30 exhibitors scheduled to appear… Exhibitors this year include…Vermont Legal Aid.

5/30/2024   Mike Fisher: Thank you, legislators, for listening to Vermonters’ voices and improving Medicare affordability

Commentary by Mike Fisher, Vermont’s health care advocate.
and Vermont Community News Group:
and Rutland Herald:

and Williston Observer:

5/20/2024   Tenant protections failed to gain traction in the Statehouse

Vermont Public:
Jean Murray, an attorney at Vermont Legal Aid, advocated for the programs’ creation last year and lauded lawmakers for putting money behind them now. But she sees a need to take a closer look at the power imbalance in landlord-tenant law.

5/14/2024   Vt. insurance companies seek double-digit rate increases

Some worry about what yet another double-digit rate increase would mean for Vermonters’ bottom line. “It’s scary. I think the average Vermonter or the business looks at this and says, ‘I can’t pay it,’” said Mike Fisher, the state’s health care advocate.

5/14/2024   Health insurers seek large premium increases


and Vermont Public:

and Vermont Public – The Frequency:

5/10/2024   Two Major health care access bills meet different fates in Vermont Statehouse

That language will make a material difference in the cost of health care for thousands of Vermonters, according to Mike Fisher, the state’s health care advocate.  “The step that the Legislature took this year is a significant improvement for close to 12,000 Vermonters,” Fisher said, “who are going to gain access to real improvements to their ability to afford premiums in Medicare and out of pocket costs.”

5/6/2024   Bill on tax sales and abatement nears governor's desk, research continues

Times Argus:
A bill aimed at putting guardrails on when towns can sell off people’s property to recoup back taxes is nearing the governor’s desk; meanwhile, Vermont Legal Aid has requested tax sale documents from every town in the state.

April 15, 2024 — ‘Provider burden’ bill pits health care providers against insurance companies

Mike Fisher, Vermont’s chief health care advocate, hedged on whether the bill would do more to harm or help. “I and my office often sit between payers and providers as they point fingers at each other for being the reason why our health care system is so expensive. And I often end up thinking, well, both sides have a point here,” Fisher said.

April 10, 2024 — Prop­erty tax suit set­tle­ment talks

The Chronicle:
A fed­eral law­suit ... was filed in U.S. Dis­trict Court in Burling­ton, by Ver­mont Le­gal Aid, act­ing on be­half of Penny Flynn in Jan­u­ary. It ar­gues that when a town sells a piece of prop­erty to re­cover taxes, it must pay its for­mer owner the dif­fer­ence be­tween the taxes owed and the fair mar­ket value of the prop­erty... Town and vil­lage lawyers have asked to be ex­cused from an­swer­ing the com­plaint un­til the end of April. They said they are dis­cussing a pos­si­ble set­tle­ment with Ms. Flynn and her lawyers.

March 18, 2024 — Vermont towns use tax sales to collect late payments. But critics say the process lacks guardrails.

Vermont Public:
"We thought it was pretty shocking that the towns were really using this very draconian process that has these devastating impacts on families over really small amounts of debt," said Grace Pazdan, Vermont Legal Aid attorney.

March 15, 2024 — Vermont Legal Aid asks court to delay DCF rules ending hotel vouchers for hundreds Friday

Rutland Herald:
Vermont Legal Aid filed a lawsuit Friday asking a court to stop the state from taking away homeless people’s cold weather shelter vouchers before their continued eligibility can be figured out… Rebecca Plummer, an attorney for Vermont Legal Aid and director of its Medical-Legal Partnership Project, said Friday that the hope is Vermont Superior Court Chittenden Civil Division, where the case was filed, will take it up and make a decision immediately.

Vermont Legal Aid is asking a judge to delay state regulations that would kick hundreds of homeless Vermonters out of the state’s hotel motel program on Friday.
Vermont Legal Aid Friday filed a lawsuit Friday and asked a judge to delay the action. “We are not asking for some massive change. We are asking for a delay in this lifting of the adverse weather conditions -- period -- while the state does its job to figure out who is eligible,” said VLA's Rebecca Plummer.

Vermont Public:
Vermont Legal Aid filed a complaint in state court Friday morning alleging that state officials failed to assess motel program participants to determine whether they could remain sheltered, and failed to adequately notify them that they might need extra documentation ahead of Friday’s deadline.

All of this led to Vermont Legal Aid filing a lawsuit on behalf of homelessness service providers Friday morning, because they feel the state hasn’t properly screened everyone that’s eligible and going against recently passed legislation…“The state did not provide notice, did not provide an opportunity for people to show that they meet and above all did not follow the legislature’s protections,” said Rebecca Plummer, a lawyer at Vermont Legal Aid.

February 22, 2024 — Montpelier considers 'just cause' eviction standard, despite hesitance at the Statehouse

Vermont Public:
Jean Murray, an attorney at Vermont Legal Aid who tracks eviction data, pointed to an uptick in evictions statewide compared to pre-pandemic levels — and noted a greater share now appear to be for “no cause.”

February 15, 2024 — Vt. bill aims to ease tax abatement and sale policies for delinquent property owners

The case has turned into a legal battle over past-due tax notifications. “Our client spends time in Florida during the colder months and so that’s when these notices were being sent. They were bouncing back to the town. She didn’t get them until after the deed transferred in the 2022 tax sale,” said Greg Fox with Vermont Legal Aid. He filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Flynn against the town of Barton and the village of Orleans to reclaim the property.

February 8, 2024 — Vermont Legal Aid sues Barton and Orleans over alleged unconstitutional home seizure

Newport Dispatch:
Vermont Legal Aid has filed a lawsuit against the Town of Barton and the Village of Orleans, alleging unconstitutional practices in property tax sales. Attorneys Grace Pazdan and Greg Fox, leading the case, emphasize the impact of tax sales on Vermont’s vulnerable populations. They point out the disproportionate use of tax sales in certain towns like Barton, exacerbating the state’s housing crisis.

January 30, 2024 — Lawmakers consider bill that would weaken Green Mountain Care Board

“On the whole, I think the words on the page of this bill do more harm than good,” Mike Fisher, the chief health care advocate at Vermont Legal Aid, told lawmakers last week.

VT health care key players at odds over legislation (
"It would weigh down some of the regulatory power the Green Mountain Care Board has, and we think that would be bad for consumers, we think that would lead to more out-of-control spending," said Mike Fisher, the chief healthcare advocate at Vermont Legal Aid.

November 24, 2023 — Millions of dollars have been raised for Vermont flood recovery. Where has the money gone?

No one leaves any federal dollars on the table,” Holly Morehouse said. She added that the fund has given $100,000 to Vermont Legal Aid to provide legal help to affected Vermonters.

November 10, 2023 — Bennington nursing home to be sold to company promising specialized care

Kaili Kuiper, Vermont’s long-term care ombudsman, said her office at Vermont Legal Aid would carefully monitor the facility’s new owners to make sure patients’ rights were upheld.

November 8, 2023 — As evictions rise, those seeking help face an uphill battle finding shelter

Court-filed evictions are the only trackable data available on such trends in Vermont. And according to Jean Murray, an attorney at Vermont Legal Aid who keeps count of those cases, evictions statewide are up.

October 19, 2023 — Spotlighting volunteer Ellen Kreitmeier

IRS-LITC Newsletter:
Ellen Kreitmeier continues to donate numerous pro bono hours every year to assisting low-income families with resolving tax issues on behalf of the Vermont Low Income Taxpayer Clinic. She helps with tax return preparation, ITIN applications, collection matters, and disputes involving economic impact payments and other credits and refunds, which has resulted in her securing thousands of dollars to which her clients were entitled.

October 12, 2023 — Blue Cross Blue Shield Vermont enters a new chapter of insurance coverage

"I recognize that Vermont Blue Cross is very small in comparison to the size of Blue Cross Michigan, so I do have concern over the years that Blue Cross Vermont will not continue to have the decision-making power," said Mike Fisher, the Vermont legal aid chief health care advocate.

October 11, 2023  —  Following regulatory approval, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont joins larger Michigan insurer

Whether the affiliation serves Vermonters will in large part come down to its impact on their bottom line, according to Mike Fisher, the chief of the Office of the Health Care Advocate, part of Vermont Legal Aid.

October 3, 2023 — Senior Solutions reports positive outcomes

Brattleboro Reformer:
Within the category of prevention of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation, we work closely with Vermont Legal Aid and the Vermont Department of Adult Protective Services, and we continually coordinate with local emergency and social services.

September 29, 2023 — More training, advocacy needed as Medicare denials continue — 10 years after Jimmo case

McKnights Long-Term Care News:
But the bottom line is that maintenance nursing and therapy can be provided indefinitely under Medicare, said Michael Benvenuto, project director of the Elder Law Unit at Vermont Legal Aid.

September 29, 2023 — VCF awards another $2.4 million in flood recovery grants

Rutland Herald + Vermont Biz:
Vermont Legal Aid awarded $100,000 to provide legal services, outreach and education to Vermonters who have legal needs arising out of the flooding in the summer of 2023.

June 23, 2023 – Tight housing market leads to illegal application fees, rental scams

The Vermont Legislature in 1999 passed a law making it illegal for landlords or their agents to charge an application fee. Maryellen Griffin with Vermont Legal Aid says while these fees are not allowed, the issue still exists, and with it comes the risk of scams. “The application fees make it tempting for people to run scams, so a lot of people are losing money paying fees that aren’t owed anyways, but are not even going to a real landlord,” she said.

June 23, 2023 – Expungement clinic for Windsor County

Vermont Journal:
An expungement clinic is scheduled for July 13, 2023, in Windsor County. More information on expungements is available at Vermont Legal Aid’s website at

June 22, 2023 – Statute of limitations on debt In Vermont

Investor Times:
If you believe an unscrupulous debt collector is attempting to collect from you beyond the statute of limitations, contact Vermont Legal Aid for more information and advice. They can provide you with support and assistance in understanding your rights and how to handle any debt collector operating outside of the law.

June 1, 2023 – Judge denies effort to delay evictions from motel program

VT Digger:
A Vermont Superior Court judge has denied a temporary restraining order sought by Vermont Legal Aid that would have blocked the eviction of roughly 800 unhoused individuals from a state-funded shelter program in motels.

June 1, 2023 – Motel checkouts underway as judge denies effort to block closure of voucher program

The class action case in Washington County Superior Court was brought by Vermont Legal Aid. During a hearing Thursday morning, lawyers for Vermont Legal Aid and the state sparred over if and when the pandemic-era housing program should wind down. “Our clients are harmed by the uncertainty they face which includes having no idea where they are going to be tomorrow,” Legal Aid lawyer Michael Benvenuto told the judge.

June 1, 2023 – Judge sides with state on hotel voucher injunction

Times Argus:
Vermont Superior Court Judge Timothy Tomasi issued the ruling on Thursday, several hours after a hearing where he heard from attorneys representing Vermont Legal Aid, as well as lawyers defending the Department for Children and Families, and the Agency of Human Services.

June 1, 2023 – Vermonters leave motels as judge refuses to block evictions

Seven Days:
“Most of these folks don’t have anywhere else to go, and we’re concerned about their survival and their well-being,” Legal Aid attorney Laura Gans told the judge. “Being without a shelter is dangerous, destabilizing, dehumanizing.”

June 1 2023 – After last-ditch legal effort fails, hundreds of unhoused Vermonters are evicted from motel program

VT Digger:
In an attempt to buy more time for people being pushed out of motels, Vermont Legal Aid filed a class-action suit earlier this week. But on Thursday afternoon, a Vermont Superior Court judge denied the temporary restraining order sought by the nonprofit legal group for low-income Vermonters.

June 1, 2023 – End of pandemic 'hotel motel' program leaving people without a place to go

Vermont Legal Aid attempted to stop the Agency of Human Services from terminating this pandemic program, but the Vermont Superior Court denied that request on Thursday.

May 30, 2023  – Vermont Legal Aid sues to keep homeless hotel program from closing

Vermont Legal Aid on Tuesday filed a class action lawsuit against the state of Vermont in an effort to keep the emergency hotel program from closing.

May 30, 2023 – Vermont Legal Aid files suit to block motel evictions 

Seven Days:

Lawyers with Vermont Legal Aid filed a class-action lawsuit against state officials on Tuesday, a last-ditch effort to stop the imminent eviction of homeless people living in motels as part of a pandemic-era housing program.

May 30, 2023 – Vermont sued over ending hotel voucher program

Rutland Herald:

Vermont Legal Aid has filed a class action lawsuit against the state in the hope of stopping or stalling the end of a housing program used to shelter the otherwise homeless during the pandemic.

May 23 2023 – Vermont Medicaid expected to start paying dentists more

VT Digger:

“We have such a crisis of people in real pain and they can’t find a dentist,” Fisher said, adding that access to dental care is one of the top issues about which people call his office for help. “People are really struggling,” he said.

May 22 2023 – Sandra Paritz: Please tax me more to keep people from dying

VT Digger:

This commentary is by Sandra Paritz, director of the Poverty Law Project of Vermont Legal Aid, based in Montpelier.

May 16, 2023 – City looks to water shutoffs

Rutland Herald:

Shutoffs led to a lawsuit against the city in 2010, when Vermont Legal Aid represented a woman forced from her home when her water was shut off over her landlord’s refusal to pay. That lawsuit was settled for $30,000 and an agreement to rewrite city ordinances to give households with a child younger than 13 additional notice prior to the shutoff and to make sure tenants are notified in advance.

May 11, 2023 – Residents of unit at The Meadows being evicted for 'no cause'

Manchester Journal:

The website, a joint initiative of Vermont Legal Aid and Legal Services Vermont, has a page dedicated to landlord-tenant law and what to do in the case of an eviction.

May 8 2023 – State auditor’s powers remain limited as legislation lingers in committee

VT Digger:

The need resonated with Mike Fisher, the state’s health care advocate, who serves in that position under a state contract with Vermont Legal Aid. “It seems obvious to us that in order for the auditor to protect state dollars, taxpayer dollars, they have to be able to follow those monies to a private contractor that is working on behalf of the state,” Fisher told the committee in testimony.

April 30, 2023 – Wiping criminal records in Vermont through expungement

More information on the expungement process can be found through Vermont Legal Aid.

April 24, 2023 – Repeat offender’s growing rap sheet raises questions about mental health, justice system

Jack McCullough, who works for Vermont Legal Aid ..., is worried people with developmental disabilities will be put there, too, and he says lawmakers should put more resources into community mental health centers to treat mental health before it becomes a criminal justice issue.

April 23, 2023 – Tenants face 26% rent hike in Thetford
Luckily, there’s Vermont Legal Aid, which helps low-income residents with civil legal problems, including tenants facing eviction cases in court. Their services are free.

April 21, 2023 – Lawmakers talking about creating a new facility for individuals who are accused of violent crimes, but aren’t competent to stand trial

Vermont Public:
“For the last several years we’ve heard the Department of Mental Health and the hospitals clamoring for the creation of more hospital beds," McCullough said. "This proposal takes nine hospital beds offline, and I really don’t get that."

April 20, 2023 – Forensic facility may share building with psychiatric hospital

VT Digger:
But Jack McCullough, who directs mental health legal representation at Vermont Legal Aid, said there is no need for a separate facility for people accused of a crime. “This bill is a solution in search of a problem,” he told the judiciary committee last week.

April 11, 2023 – Nearly three-quarters of Vermont’s school districts are under scrutiny for special education. What’s going wrong?

VT Digger:
“It is serious,” said Rachel Seelig, Vermont Legal Aid's Disability Law Project director. “I do think that the state needs to be putting a lot of time and effort into getting students the services and support they need.”

April 4, 2023 – Health clinic gets $500K to set up primary care residency program 

Seven Days:
Mike Fisher, who works for Vermont Legal Aid as the state’s chief health care advocate, said on Tuesday that his office often hears from people who can’t find a primary care provider.

April 4, 2023 – Vermont, other states to resume checking Medicaid eligibility; recipients need to make sure info is updated

Times Argus:
Mike Fisher, chief health care advocate at the Office of the Health Care Advocate with Vermont Legal Aid, said that about 200,000 Vermonters will need to go through this Medicaid verification process. He likewise said there’s no way to accurately say how many of those folks might no longer qualify for Medicaid.

March 16, 2023 – Lawmakers mull ‘threat assessment teams’ in school safety bill

VT Digger:

“Our kids aren’t ‘threats’ to be assessed,” said Rachel Seelig, who directs the Disability Law Project at Vermont Legal Aid. “They are children who need to be supported.

March 16, 2023 – Brattleboro police search for recently released mentally ill man

Brattleboro Reformer:

Jack McCullough, project director at Vermont Legal Aid, told Hayes he has communicated to DMH that “it’s precisely the people who are the most difficult to provide services for who need their help the most.”

March 12, 2023 – Landlord’s unpaid water bill leads to tenant lawsuit

Caledonia Record:

The town turned the water back on after a doctor’s note certifying Hannon’s health issues. But the case is still pending in court and is being handled by Vermont Legal Aid staff.

March 10, 2023 - Care board pushes off vote on inpatient psychiatric care funds

The Daily Reformer:

Eric Schultheis, an attorney with Vermont Legal Aid’s Office of the Health Care Advocate, called the situation an opportunity for the board to consider whether it has ever fully utilized the power that the legislature gave it.

March 6, 2023 – New contract gives UVM Medical Center technical staff higher pay

VT Digger:

While pay increases may lead to higher health care costs for patients, having a well-trained workforce at full strength is also essential, said Mike Fisher, chief health care advocate at Vermont Legal Aid. “It’s a double-edged sword,” he said.

March 5 2023 – In a slate of new bills, Vermont lawmakers take a hard look at domestic and sexual violence

VT Digger:

At a Wednesday hearing on H.27, Rachel Seelig, a lobbyist for Vermont Legal Aid, said she fears that abusers could weaponize an expanded definition of abuse, gaslighting their victims and lodging their own abuse allegations in court. Legal Aid already sees this occur when legally representing victims, she said.

March 4, 2023 – COVEcast: Ombudsman Project promotes dignity, independence

Community of Vermont Elders (COVE):

Kaili Kuiper and Michelle Carter, who work for the Vermont Long-Term Care Ombudsman Project, were our guests for this episode of COVEcast.

February 17, 2023 – State increases oversight of Springfield schools due to special eduction violations 

Seven Days:

Rachel Seelig, director of Vermont Legal Aid’s Disability Law Project, said it is “pretty unusual” for school districts to be placed under targeted monitoring.

More information