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Low-Barrier Shelter In Burlington To Stay Open Into Warmer Months

One of the rooms at the low-barrier shelter in Burlington. The shelter opens Nov. 1 and this year will remain open until June 15.
Liam Elder-Connors
/
VPR
One of the rooms at the low-barrier shelter in Burlington. The shelter opens Nov. 1 and this year will remain open until June 15.

Burlington's only shelter without a sobriety requirement will be open from Nov. 1 until mid-June, two months longer than previous years.

Through colder months, the Community Health Centers of Burlington uses state money to run the 37-bed low-barrier shelter. Now the city of Burlington will pay $60,000 to keep the shelter open for an extra two months.

Erin Ahearn, director of Homeless Healthcare Programs at CHCB, said besides offering a place to sleep, the shelter helps connect people to resources.

“We not only have them come in and spend the evening and the overnight, but then we really work hard with all of these partners and with all of our programs to get folks connected to the services that will hopefully move them out of here and out of here permanently into their own homes,” Ahearn said.

Last year 16 people who used the shelter moved into permanent living situations and 80 people found temporary places, according to CHCB.

Mayor Miro Weinberger says there's a need to keep the shelter open longer because of the number of people living in homeless encampments in warmer months. He said the city doesn't allow such camps in certain places and sometimes takes them down.

“It is certainly our hope that having this facility for an extended period of time will be an option that we are able to offer to people when we need to ... remove those encampments,” Weinberger said.

Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont sued the city to try to stop the removal of an encampment. The city was ultimately allowed to take down the camp, but the lawsuit is still pending in federal court.

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