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Burlington seeks to increase oversight of homeless camp

September 17, 2021 GMT

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Vermont’s largest city wants to increase oversight of a homeless encampment on city property, including hiring managers to oversee it.

On Wednesday, the city released a draft request for proposals to have oversight and management of the Sears Lane encampment, in the south end of the city.

WCAX-TV reports the arrangement will only last until September 2022, but the draft plan calls for additional development of the site, including regular surveillance, cleaning, spots for tents, running water, bathrooms and a WIFI hot spot. There would also be regular food donations. Current wooden structures would be removed because they are believed to be fire hazards.

“Basically (it would) manage a campground that would be an option for folks who are struggling in the current housing crisis,” said Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger.

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Some of the neighbors are upset by the proposal. Neighbor Chris Flanagan who owns property next door said he finds the idea unacceptable.

“I walk around here every morning. There are syringes - needles - garbage everywhere,” Flanagan said. “We pay $12,000 a year in taxes here and this is what we get for it.”

Brian Pine, the director of Burlington’s Community and Economic Development Office, said no one believes it would be a permanent solution to the housing crisis.

“The idea is that there will be a basic level of services provided, but really the goal -- being to secure permanent housing,” he said.