When the pandemic hit, many homeless shelters were forced to shut down because at the time, social distancing was difficult to meet.
ANEW Place in Burlington purchased the Champlain Inn to provide year-round low-barrier housing for people in the community who are experiencing homelessness. Director at ANEW Place, Kevin Pounds said there are certain groups that have been hit hard.
“And that especially includes the people and our neighbors who are without homes,” Pounds said.
One of their top priorities at ANEW Place is making sure they would be able to follow the COVID-19 guidelines.
“The great thing about this is people are in their own room, that takes away the guessing game on that and I think it’s also great that there’s a COVID recovery site up on Williston road, if someones COVID positive we already have a process for people to go there,” Pounds said.
Director of Development at Cathedral Square, Cindy Reid believes ANEW Place is a great first step to help people get housing security.
“We love knowing that 50 people will be here soon and have a warm bed to sleep in and walls and a roof to keep them safe and services and caring staff to help them develop their next steps,” Reid said.
Each room provides people with a semi private sleeping area, bathroom, and there will be onsite services including case managers and assistance in finding permanent housing.
The purchase was funded with $2.5 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds granted by the Vermont Housing Conservation Board. Mayor Miro Weinberger said this has been a constant challenge to have a year-round low-barrier facility.
“Not long ago there was not a consensus that low barrier facilities made sense at all even in the winter, and up until 2014 we had people die frequently during the winter,” Mayor Weinberger said. “I think just about every winter there used to be an exposure death.”
The inn will open on December 1st just in time for winter.