New location, name for Burlington warming station

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) A homeless advocacy group has stepped in to keep a Burlington warming shelter open this winter.

The Community Health Center of Burlington announced this summer they would no longer run the low barrier warming shelter.

But those who need a place to stay are getting help. ANEW Place plans to open the warming shelter on Nov. 1 at South Winooski Avenue.

ANEW Place's Kevin Pounds says deciding to take on the low barrier warming shelter started with two questions.

"Number one-- should we do it? Number two-- can we do it?" he said.

Pounds says the answer to the first question was a no-brainer. The answer to the question of how was a little bit more of a challenge that one of his staff members agreed to take on. He says that normally taking on an endeavor like this is a six-month process, but his team didn't have that luxury.

"So in this case, we are really kind of doing six months of work in six weeks," he said.

The three big things they focused on are securing funding, creating the systems and structure, and hiring staff. The 37-bed shelter will run until April 30 and have hours from 6 p.m.-8 a.m. People will sign up for a bed and then have that bed until they don't want it anymore.

"It still means that they will be fending for themselves during the daylight hours, but it guarantees people are going to have a warm place to sleep for the night," said Pounds.

This is the fourth organization to run the warming shelter in six years. Pounds says that's due to the low pay and long hours. However, he says his goal is to keep ANEW Place running the shelter for many years.

"Our goal is not to treat the low barrier shelter like a hot potato. It's to actually answer the question what does this take to make this sustainable for the long haul because it's a needed resource in our community," he said.

He wants to focus on creating a safe atmosphere for the guests and staff. But once that's established, he wants to focus on making sure his staff feels supported so they can sustain the warming shelter for years to come.

This project that started out as a huge undertaking is now on the right track to launch next week. That's when their website will go live with more information.