Burlington, VT– Leaders and community members are celebrating the reopening of the Community Resource Center after it was closed for about two weeks, as renovations to improve capacity and efficiency are now complete.
The Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity runs the resource center, as well as Feeding Chittenden in the same building. Leaders commemorated the new renovations on Thursday.
Burlington community members now have a bigger space to get services in the Old North End. Phase one renovations on the Community Resource Center have ended, allowing for a higher capacity.
“There was a lot of space that was not being used well, it was being taken up by sidings and things like that, so we were probably only able to seat comfortably like 80 people,” says Brenna Bedard, the homeless outreach service provider at the center.
She says up to 150 people go through the center on any given day.
“It definitely has opened up the capacity for people to be able to come in and enjoy the space,” says Bedard.
CVOEO Executive Director Paul Dragon says the center offers housing and other services, hot meals, plus a food pantry at Feeding Chittenden. He notes the center has served about 2,300 people in over 25,000 visits during the last year.
“They are valuable and important members of our community, and we will never forget them, we will always serve them,” says Dragon. “This is their permanent home, for people who are unsheltered, experiencing homelessness, and other members of the community.”
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger notes factors like the housing shortage, homelessness, and an ever-growing drug crisis have impacts on community needs.
“We see the strain of these pressures all around us every day, we would be feeling them far worse, and have a far more dire situation on our hands if we did not have Feeding Chittenden, CVOEO, CHT and other partners stepping up,” says Weinberger.
Expanding the resource center is what Dragon says the community needs. The space got bigger, floors were redone, a heating and cooling system added, plus a fresh coat of paint.
Bedard says community members will have a warm space for winter.
“Before it was definitely just not a hospitable place, you walk in now and we put up some artwork,” says Bedard. “What they’re going through every day is challenging, and none of us are going to know what it’s like until we experience it, and the best we can do is make them comfortable with what we have.”
CVOEO is hoping to add a second floor for office space so staff displaced by the remodel can come back.