Burlington, VT — In an effort to address a housing crisis, the Burlington City Council has approved plans to construct more than two dozen ‘pods’ for people experiencing homelessness.

The Community and Economic Development Office will build 25 single-occupancy pods and five double-occupancy pods for people in need of housing. The pods will have electricity, heat and air conditioning, and will be built in a city-owned parking lot on Elmwood Ave. A communal bathroom will also be available at the site.

The project is being funded for at least three years through the American Recovery Plan Act and other grants. “The shelter community on Elmwood Ave will provide temporary housing for up to 35 people,” said City Councilor Joe Magee. “This is by no means a permanent solution to the housing crisis.”

Magee says the project is focused on the needs of the homeless community and hopes neighboring areas will remain optimistic about the location of the shelter. “The goal of course is to get folks into longer-term options. It provides another low barrier shelter option in the city, I think we need more low barrier shelter options.”

David Call, a resident who lives close to the development, says that a project like this can relieve stress on the community. “In the long run, if we don’t start doing something for the unhoused community, then we’re going to wonder why we have so many issues,” he said.

Not everyone supports the project. Some residents are concerned about changes to their neighborhood. Brian Pine, director of the Community and Economic Development Office, responded to the concerns.

“I think those concerns are based on a certain set of assumptions about how it will or won’t be run, and who will or won’t be staying there,” said Pine. “What we do know is that we can put in place the supports and the protections that are hopefully going to get the best outcome.”

Pine says that housing is the best antidote for homelessness. Sarah Russell, of End Homelessness, says recovery services will be provided along with the temporary shelter.

“I think there’s a huge lack of low barrier emergency shelter within Chittenden County, especially within Burlington,” said Russell. “We are working on incorporating homelessness prevention efforts into our system as well.”

The city is aiming to open the pods November 1.