City, state officials vow to support Shelburne Rd. homeless shelter

Published: May. 3, 2023 at 6:11 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - City and state officials Wednesday said they’re committed to keeping the former Champlain Inn on Shelburne Road operating as a homeless shelter. The message of support comes after the shelter’s operator, the nonprofit ANEW Place. said this week it lacked the resources to go it alone.

The Champlain Inn has been serving as a low-barrier emergency shelter since 2020. The program was originally created as a way to serve the homeless community during the pandemic, but ANEW Place said they can’t run it alone anymore due to a shortage of staff, maintenance issues, and a lack of funds. They say they are looking for a new partner or management to take over.

“Over the winter we are averaging over 70. We are still turning people away. Right now, we are trying to reduce that number down to 50 because of our staffing challenges,” said Joe Domko with ANEW.

State and community agencies are expected to help the nonprofit, including the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, which oversaw the $2.8 million grant to purchase and renovate the building. They have also been in talks with the Vermont Agency of Human Services to figure out how to move forward.

“We also anticipate that if and when a new operator comes on board, they take a look at the building and they say, ‘We have these needs,’ to make sure that it’s providing high-quality shelter to people, that they will come back to us, said VHCB’s Pollaidh Major.

Everyone involved, including the city, is interested in keeping the shelter running because it has been essential to serving the homeless community in Chittenden County.

“We want to ensure that whatever issues exist with the property itself, in terms of renovations and re-habilitation needs, are met. Whoever is operating, the staff that they need that are trained and qualified and that they have enough staff,” said AHS’ Sarah Phillips.

AHS awarded ANEW Place an $800,000 Housing Opportunity Grant for the fiscal year which ends on June 30th for operating the shelter. Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger says they support the efforts underway. “We need these emergency shelters. We had no low-barrier, year-round emergency shelter beds before this facility was built. That’s critical right now in the crisis we are at. So, we are going to find a way to make sure this continues to operate,” he said.

AHS officials say they are prepared to bring more partners to the table in an effort to keep the program afloat.

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