Warming shelter reopens again in Burlington
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - As temperatures drop, Burlington’s new Community Resource Center is back for its second season.
“I mean it’s freezing out. It’s like, we go to the resources,” said Alex Olson of Burlington.
Olson stopped by the Community Resource Center on Sunday to get warm and to grab essentials.
“I’m very glad this opened back up because it’s just amazing -- I mean, amazing food, and they give you stuff,” he said.
The Community Resource Center is funded by donations, money from the CARES Act and about $250,000 from the city of Burlington’s American Rescue Plan funding.
“We have hot food, hot drinks, coffee, tea, food, meals from Feeding Chittenden, clothing, hygiene products, snacks, computer access, phone access,” said Anna Thomson, a CVOEO housing advocate.
The resource center also serves as a bridge to connect folks with resources like emergency housing and safe recovery information.
Thomson says the shelter has returned to intense need ahead of the cold winter months.
“It is kind of essential to people, honestly, staying alive through the winter,” said Thomson.
The center opened around the same time Vermont announced the 2021General Assistance Housing Adverse Weather Conditions Program, which says people can access emergency shelter at state-funded motels during the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. if temperatures are less than 20 degrees, or if temperatures are less than 32 degrees with a high chance of precipitation.
Thomson says the shelter closes every day at 4 p.m., and they frequently hear from Vermonters who are still looking for a place to stay overnight.
“A lot of people come in and say, ‘I don’t have a place to go tonight, I don’t have a place to sleep.’ So, we will usually call economic services to see if there’s a hotel or a motel room they can get them in,” Thomson.
Thomson also notes they will try to connect folks to the low-barrier walk-in motel at the Champlain Inn, but open rooms are hard to come by.
The last resort is to hand out sleeping bags and tents.
Olson says he does have a spot in a motel, but he likes to socialize at the center.
“I don’t go there because it’s pretty lonely because you can’t have anyone in your room or anything, and it’s way out on Shelburne Road, so I kind of couch it with friends here,” said Olson.
The community resource center is open every day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in downtown Burlington. Organizers say it will run until at least April, but they are working on finding a yearlong solution in a different location.
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