Mayor offers reprieve to Burlington encampment; Neighbor says eviction overdue

Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 6:05 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Residents of a homeless encampment in Burlington’s South End will get an additional week to clear out following Monday night’s decision by the mayor to postpone Tuesday’s planned eviction. For some neighbors, the order to shut down the encampment is already long overdue.

Chris Flanagan owns property next to the Sears Lane homeless encampment and says the scene across the street has made it impossible to sell or rent his building.

“With this going on across the road, I have had many people come and look at the building and they’re just like, well, it’s a great location, great place, but they don’t wanna do a business with the homeless camp,” Flanagan said

This week the city said they were shutting down the encampment that they let grow on city property since early this spring. Mayor Miro Weinberger as recently as last month had put out a request for proposals to have an organization manage the site. But a police search last week that turned up drugs and resulted in the arrest of a convicted felon on weapons charges helped change his mind.

“I certainly felt it was an urgent situation,” Weinberger said. He initially gave them five days to pack up and leave, but announced Monday night he is giving them until October 26th. “It became clear that we would need a little more time to get containers onto the site and manage that properly.”

The mayor says the city and state organizations stepped up to try to help those in the camp and that they will meet with residents this week to discuss those resources and explain how the city will facilitate the storage of peoples’ belongings for 30 days

“I’m confident that anyone who wants assistance from the state, the city, CVOEO, will be able to get meaningful assistance,” Weinberger said. He says while the long-term solution remains elusive, helping get these people homes is something the city is committed to. “I have not given up on the idea that city-owned properties could play some kind of role, address the pressure of this acute housing crisis.”

But for now, that won’t be on Sears Lane, and Chris Flanagan says that’s fine with him. “I think it’s really poor planning on the city’s part that actually created this problem, and now they’re going to have difficulty closing the camp down,” he said.

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