Homeless forced from popular camp in South Burlington - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Homeless forced from popular camp in South Burlington

South Burlington, Vermont - June 28, 2011

Cheryl Grey says she feels like she's been homeless forever.

"Now I have no food, no rent money, nothing," she said.

She's been out on the streets begging for months, holding a sign that says she's one month pregnant. She went to panhandle at the intersection of Interstate 189 and Shelburne Road Tuesday after hearing it was a good spot to make extra cash.

"They said there's lots of traffic and they stop right there so you have a good chance of somebody stopping and kicking down something," Grey said.

But Tuesday was move out day for the group of transients that are normally begging at this busy intersection.

"I think they'll be back. They'll just wait a week or so and they'll be back," said Scott Stevens, who is homeless.

The once high grass has been cut and low-hanging trees are being cleared which police hope will make this area easier to patrol.

"When you're handing people dollar bills out your window it's not always being used for the best purposes," Vt. State Police Lt. Marc Thomas said.

Police served trespassing notices last week and Tuesday people were forced to go.

"What people see day to day is the panhandlers working on the end of 189-- that's just part of the issue here," Thomas said.

There are safety concerns for both the panhandlers and people driving by.

"I don't think it's fair," Stevens said. "A lot of people don't have a place to go and everything like that. And they're not stopping traffic, they're not really harassing people that much."

Police say the cleanout was spurred by a motorcycle accident that happened in May which was too close to the homeless camp.

"Fortunately those folks who were living down here didn't get hurt but it was a very close call. So that's kind of what got this rolling," Thomas said.

"We're bush hogging the area to bring the grass down and we're going through to raise the skirts on the trees so there's more visibility," explained Art Danyow of the Vt. Transportation Agency.

Reporter Gina Bullard: How much money did you make when you were here?

Evan Lauchman/Homeless: About 50-60 bucks a day.

People like Lauchman who used to panhandle at the intersection now are forced to go elsewhere. He now asks for change on Church Street.

Bullard: Now where do these people get pushed to?

Thomas: Well, I don't know exactly. We have involved all of the services that these people have access to on a daily basis.

"I've been everywhere and there's no help," Grey said.

"It's time to change how we do business here and see if this can improve quality of life for everybody involved," Thomas said.

But until then, people like Cheryl Grey will just move down the street to panhandle.

"I'm still going to try until someone kicks me out," she said. "If they come I'll just tell them the truth and what my situation is."

Police did recognize that this group of people is now going move to other areas, but they said again that this intersection is a problem because of safety. Authorities said they'll deal with the other areas when the time comes.

Police did say of course there was some push back when they got there Tuesday morning since this is the way some of the homeless people make their living.

Gina Bullard - WCAX News

Related Story:

South Burlington Police crack down on panhandlers

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