Burlington, VT– After months of delays, the Elmwood Ave. emergency shelter community is finally opening this week, Mayor Miro Weinberger announced Monday. The residents will be moving in in stages, and Mayor Weinberger expects the shelter to be fully occupied by the end of the month.

The so called “pods” offer independence to people experiencing homelessness, and the people who call this place home will receive services for mental and physical health. The community will welcome nearly three-dozen people over the coming weeks. The shelter has 25 single-occupancy pods and five double-occupancy pods, which are available upon request.

“Elmwood is first conceived and has been built to serve as a temporary, critical resource in our ongoing efforts to bring a functional end to homelessness and to deliver on the promise of housing as a human right here in Burlington,” Weinberger said.

About 80 people in total applied to stay at the shelter. The Champlain Housing Trust, which will be managing the shelter day-to-day, was responsible for going through the applications. The total cost of the development was $1.6 million, according to Assistant Director of Community Works Samantha Dunn.

Weinberger said residents will receive “visits from caseworkers and housing navigators that are focused on helping residents move as quickly as possible into permanent housing.”

Organizers say a number of factors led to the delay. “Every step of this project has taken longer than I wanted it to, and some of that is due to the regular construction challenges of unknown underground storage tanks under our parking lot, supply chain and labor issues,” Dunn said.

She added, “the need for this project to open is so acute, so that every day the shelter wasn’t open was interminable for me.”

Brian Pine, the director of Burlington’s Community and Economic Development Office, said “the most critical piece that we struggled with for months and months was really finding an operating partner, to running a facility that was really going to be a trauma informed, therapeutic environment.”

A Burlington Parks, Recreation and Waterfront staff-person will maintain the shelter, and a Burlington Police Department Community Support Liaison will check in on the people who live there. The head of CHT noted that this is not long-term housing; people will stay for six to eight months before transitioning to permanent housing.

“It’s about meeting people’s needs right where they really need to be, they need to be sheltered, they need to be housed, we know people will have individual challenges and they’re going to bring it to this community and we’re going to work with them,” said CEO Michael Monte.