Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger has extended by one week his deadline for people to leave a homeless encampment on Sears Lane.
Weinberger had ordered the encampment shutdown after incidents last week involving drugs and an assault rifle. On Monday, he said efforts to build a community or manageable campground at Sears Lane have not worked out.
“It became very clear that the encampment has become a place that is unsafe for campers at the site, the neighbors surrounding the site, and even the city’s personnel responding to medical calls at the site,” the mayor said.
The mayor says the city will provide storage containers for campers’ belongings, which can be kept at the site for up to 30 days.
Meanwhile, residents of the encampment are pleading with City Council to allow them to remain, arguing that eviction will cause more suffering as winter approaches. They said the encampment is necessary because of the failure of city officials to address Burlington’s housing crisis.
Emma Schoenberg said evicting dozens of people because of the actions of one or two is wrong.
“We see ourselves as part of a neighborhood, as part of a community that you are all apart of as well, that Sears Lane is a part of,” she said. “We struggle like any other community to stay safe.”
Leif Taranta said the city is “punishing” residents of the encampment for its own failures. “I want to ask you if you’re really ready to kick people out of their homes in the cold in the COVID, possibly to their deaths, because that is what will happen,” Taranta said.
Residents have invited officials to a planned BBQ at the camp Tuesday to see how the community operates.