UPDATE: Both resolutions passed at Monday night’s meeting.
Burlington’s City councilors are trying to decide how to best serve the city’s homeless population, to help reduce crime.
Two different proposed resolutions are on the table for Monday night’s meeting, and both are in response to a rise in acts of violence within the homeless community.
Since May of 2016, four violent crimes have occurred in Burlington, all among the homeless community.
After a stabbing nearly three weeks ago, the Mayor Miro Weinberger and Chief Brandon del Pozo said something new had to be done.
Ten days later, there was another incident. Police say a homeless man assaulted the owner of the East West Cafe.
City leaders are responding with two different approaches.
One would look at creating an ordinance that would put a cap on people who violate city ordinances again and again.
“We’re not just talking about non compliant in terms of the ordinance, we’re talking about people that are non-compliant with the services, wrap-around services that have been offered,” said Deputy Chief Shawn Burke.
Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform opposes the resolution. In a letter to city council, its executive director says “the criminal code is the wrong tool to address those concerns.”
City Councilor Adam Roof is proposing a different resolution, which VCJR does support. He wants to re-examine service and care options for the city’s homeless.
“From a City Council perspective, I want to know what can we do to better support those efforts, and they way I know how to do that is to convene a group of people to inform us on how to do so,” said Roof.
The Howard Center, COTS, police, business owners and more would be included in the conversation.
“One thing that was important to me was to call out including people of the homeless community themselves. I think they should have agency the conversations that are going to impact their lives,” said Roof.