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Burlington works to close encampment, relocate campers

October 26, 2021 GMT

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — The city of Burlington took steps on Tuesday to close a south end homeless encampment as officials worked to find new places for the residents to live.

Advocates for people experiencing homelessness had attempted to stop the eviction of the people living on the city-owned property without success.

Mayor Miro Weinberger says the encampment on Sears Lane is not safe. He said city officials were working to provide resources to people who have been living at the site.

On Tuesday afternoon, the mayor’s office said campers who are accepting services and have a housing plan will be given time to transition to new housing. Everyone on site has accepted services, his office said.

The city has posted trespass notices around the perimeter.

Resident Grey Barreda said Tuesday afternoon that he’d lived at the Sears Lane encampment for two months and that he expected to sleep at the encampment Tuesday night. He said he’s considering the city’s offer to help him find a new place to live.

“I’m still up in the air about that,” Barreda said.

About 20 to 30 people had been living at the encampment, estimated Paul Dragon of the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity. He said Monday that nine to 12 people have been set up in hotels, two are relocating to other areas, a few have requested campers and others were still looking for housing.

“Everybody should know there are possibilities and CVOEO is providing resources if people do indeed want to go,” Dragon said.

The city will store personal items left on site for 30 days and is providing storage containers for the campers who want them, the mayor’s office said. A fence is expected to be erected by the end of the day on Tuesday to secure larger items and structures left for storage.

On Monday, residents did not appear to be packing up and preparing to leave.

Barreda said the Sears Lane encampment offered him and some of the other residents a sense of community.

“This is not just our house, but for some people, a rare experience of family and mutual support,” he said.