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Burlington homeless encampment still occupied 5 weeks after eviction

It has been over five weeks since Burlington Mayor Weinberger said he was shutting down the Sears Lane homeless encampment but a number of people are still usin
Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 6:08 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 2, 2021 at 6:34 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - It has been over five weeks since Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger said he was shutting down the Sears Lane homeless encampment but a number of people are still using the site.

“There is a presence here more than the city is capable of understanding,” said Gray Barreda, a resident of the camp.

Despite the city’s eviction order, new structures are popping up, food is still being delivered, and the heat is on. “There’s building, there’s insulating and people getting ready for winter,” Barreda said. He says there are still up to 10 people living there compared to the several dozen earlier in the summer and that he is still in touch with the people who left after being offered hotel rooms.

“They are still trying to recover and grieve their loss of sanctuary,” Barreda said.

Mayor Weinberger says he is aware of the people still living at the encampment. “We are continuing to work with those folks and we are hopeful we can continue to present options for those folks,” he said. The mayor also says further action will be taken to address public health and public safety. “We have taken a number of steps to restrict the ability of people to live there and we will continue with that if required.”

Weinberger declined to say what those steps are and when he will take them. Meanwhile, Sears Lane is strewn with trash and personal belongings are everywhere.

Barreda says that’s a reflection of what happened there over the last five weeks. “We just had a violent upheaval of our community and people in a five-day haste were just ripping out what they could salvage, keep,” he said.

Despite a court order for residents to leave, Barreda says they are continuing to fight the city in court to keep the camp open.

Related Stories:

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Two weeks after closure, Sears Lane remains occupied

Judge denies injunction trying to stop evictions at Burlington homeless encampment

Sears Lane residents challenge Burlington’s decision to close encampment

City installs fence at Sears Lane encampment

Weinberger: Evicted Sears Lane homeless ‘have a plan’

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