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Montpelier postpones decision on homeless camping in parks

July 26, 2021 GMT

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The city council in Montpelier, Vermont, has postponed a vote on whether to allow people experiencing homelessness to camp in city parks.

Late last week, the council discussed a proposed policy looking at the needs of the homeless and the city, including where emergency sleeping would be located when the local shelter is full, WCAX-TV reported. The proposal also addressed what park staff should do if they find someone sleeping in an unapproved location, such as on school grounds, private property or near a public path, the station reported.

The goal is to protect the homeless while adding boundaries, officials said.

“If the shelters are open and there’s a place for someone to go, and they’re camping in a high sensitivity area, we would ask them to leave that area, so they can go to a shelter that’s more appropriate and safe,” Montpelier Homelessness Task Force staff representative Cameron Niedermayer said.

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The Homelessness Task Force will be considering suggestions from the public and working with the parks commission before the council’s next meeting on Aug. 18.

Vermont ended pandemic-related emergency hotel rooms for some of the homeless population on July 1. The state extended the hotel voucher program 84 days for families with children, the disabled, pregnant women and other vulnerable people, and gave $2,500 checks to those no longer eligible. Families with children and some disabled households may be able to stay longer. On Friday, a federal court judge again extended the program for some people to show they can remain eligible until a ruling is made in a court case.

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NUMBERS

On Monday the Vermont Health Department reported 18 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19, bringing the statement total since the pandemic began to almost 24,750.

There were five people hospitalized. None were in intensive care.

The number of fatalities remains at 259.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Vermont has risen over the past two weeks from 5.43 new cases per day on July 10 to 18 new cases per day on July 24.

The Associated Press is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the United States.