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After Delay, Burlington Takes Down Homeless Encampment In City's South End

An encampment in Burlington in 2017.
Liam Elder-Connors
VPR File
The encampment on Sears Lane in Burlington was taken down by the city. The city decided to take down the camp after reports of domestic violence and drug use.

The city of Burlington took down a homeless encampment in the city's south end on Thursday, an action that was plan for last week but then delayed.  

Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo said there was a lot of personal property at the site and the city needed to make a plan to store the property in case the former residents of the camp wanted to keep it.

Del Pozo said the city was willing to pay for storage space if it was needed.

“As it turns out very little of that property was stuff they wanted us to keep,” del Pozo said. “We went through particular items, they identified what they wanted safeguarded, they identified what they would move themselves and the remainder, which was really the majority of it, was disposed of.”

Del Pozo said only two people were still living at the camp when it was dismantled. He said all those who were living there have found alternative temporary shelter.

Prior to the take down, the Vermont Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to the city criticizing the decision to close down the camp.

The ACLU said the action would violate the constitutional rights of people living there. 

“The ACLU may allege that removing people from city property is somehow a violation of the constitution, but we don’t agree with that,” del Pozo said.

Del Pozo said the city operates compassionately and respected the property of the people living at the encampment.

“I think the way we eventually handled this encampment shows that those are the city values when it comes to this,” del Pozo said.  

The city decided to take down the encampment after reports of domestic violence and drug use at the site.

Liam is Vermont Public’s public safety reporter, focusing on law enforcement, courts and the prison system.
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