Champlain Housing Trust to manage Burlington pod community

Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 12:22 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Champlain Housing Trust has agreed to manage Burlington’s new pod community for the homeless. Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and other officials made the announcement during a briefing Friday morning.

The project on Elmwood Avenue in the city’s Old North End is slated to consist of 30 individual shelters that will house up to 40 individuals. It will include a separate building with bathrooms and a community resource center. It was originally supposed to open in July but the project has been stalled because the city couldn’t find anyone to run it.

The trust’s CEO Michael Monte says they also initially hesitated to take on the project. “We had a lot of work in front of us,” he said. “We have settled in a bit on the nature of the work. We brought in some more staff to help us with that.”

And they’ll get some help from the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity’s service center. It was originally set to be at the pod site but will now remain in its current location at Feeding Chittenden.

Monte also says he feels better about the labor market and plans to bring on even more staff to work the site. “We essentially are getting people into the pods and then getting people out of the pods,” he said.

Monte says they will provide oversight on security, services, and cleaning. Expectations of those staying in the pods are still being worked out, but preliminary requirements are non-disruptive behavior and engaging with provided services to secure more permanent housing. He says they are still trying to decide about substance use policies. “That doesn’t mean we aren’t going to take on people that do have issues who need to work out some of those things, but at the same time we can’t have 30 of those,” he said.

Officials stress that they will follow a transitional housing model but there is no timeline set for how long residents can stay. “Making sure that they want to be in the pods, will stay in the pods and grow to being permanently housed,” Monte said.

The timeline remains that they open the facility by November. Around 25 pods are set to be delivered in mid-October and community structures will be delivered in early November. The final five pods are anticipated by the end of the year.

Monte says they are also working on the application process for clients to use the pods. “This is a slight stretch for us but we feel comfortable that we have grown to a place where we have developed some skills and understanding of what needs to be done,” he said.

Estimates released on the cost to run the pods are around $124 per client per night.

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