Burlington plans winter homeless shelter at former VFW

The Burlington City Council approved a plan Tuesday to build a 30-bed winter homeless shelter.

The city will run the facility at the former VFW building on South Winooski Avenue. It will be open from Dec. 15 to March 15. And the project will be funded with about $600,000 from the state Agency of Human Services.

Unsheltered homelessness has risen dramatically in Burlington. According to a city memo, 80 people were sleeping outside last September. That number’s above 200 this year.

Mayor Miro Weinberger, at a press conference Tuesday, said the facility was needed to keep people safe during the cold winter months.

“We are attempting to prevent exposure deaths, we are attempting to expand services, and we are attempting to have another support that ensures a successful, vibrant downtown.”

The shelter will only operate through the winter because the site is slated to be turned into affordable housing in the spring.

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