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Burlington officials tour homeless encampment to address trash issue

Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 5:44 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Burlington is taking steps to clean up a homeless camp off Pine Street, but the mayor says he’s not prepared to close down the growing settlement -- at least not yet.

City officials and clean-up contractors Friday morning took a tour of the Sears Lane homeless encampment in Burlington’s South End. “We are doing a walkthrough of the site for potential quotes for cleanup of accumulated debris,” said Lee Perry with Burlington Public Works.

“The request and the hope is that as many campers are going to be present at the time. I mean, I have been in contact with most of them so I mean this isn’t a surprise to them and it was welcomed,” said Lacy Smith, a community affairs liaison.

The group toured the campsite with residents. Smith says she is working to identify what’s trash and what’s treasure to folks living in the encampment. “We are cleaning up the identified items that have been abandoned by just the history of folks living here, so it’s not a removal. They are going to continue to live down here,” she said.

The camp -- in one form or another -- has been on the parcel of city property for years but has been growing of late, raising questions about whether it’s in compliance with the city’s policy dictating where people are allowed to camp, as well as health, safety, and environmental guidelines. The cleanup plan is meant to address those issues, a welcome sign for those who live there.

“It’s great. Hopefully, they see that we have been putting our effort into getting it cleaned up on our own,” said one resident.

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