The occupation of Burlington’s city hall park has entered into a common trend that the nation wide movement of occupations share now, becoming a refuge for the homeless. This issue made it to the attention of Vermont’s mainstream media today Nov. 9th on WCAX after a letter was mailed to Burlington’s Mayor Bob Kiss, stating that the city’s at-capacity Homeless Shelters were referring people to the encampment and the occupiers didn’t have the training nor means to correctly provide assistance to the homeless.
In the WCAX report (VIDEO), The Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS) is quick to deny the allegations to the mayor after being questioned, but a COTS spokes person goes on to “doubt anyone at COTS would refer someone to the park, but added she’s quite grateful for all the help she has received in camp.”
Did COTS refer homeless to the camp or didn’t they? It isn’t the point, the occupation is fulfilling the humanitarian aid that the State, Federal and private sector should be fulfilling, but isn’t.
Now, COTS isn’t the only institution in Burlington that the homeless turn to for assistance, In this video a homeless Burlington resident reveals that the homeless shelters are overfilled and that an employee of the Howard Center directed him to the Burlington Occupation.
The Howard Center isn’t a shelter to my knowledge, but they are a human services institution and I am sure they know the shelters are full. What other option can they offer?
I don’t find any recent statistics on homeless in VT but last years 7Days article – Vermont’s Homeless Problem Takes a Disturbing Turn: Squatting states-
In Chittenden County, where most of the state’s soup kitchens, food shelves and service agencies are located, the homeless population has more than doubled in two years — from 424 in 2008 to 916 this year. The number of children in those totals jumped from 86 kids two years ago to 256 today…Currently, there’s a two-month wait for beds at the family shelters run by COTS
When I searched the Vermont.gov site for “homeless” I got 13 Million 500 thousand hits! To me this illustrates a crucial point about our society. Human Services are entrapped within the same institutionalization as our politicians, which denies and/or white washes reality with promises and programs that fall way short, when the solution is simple… We are the solution! A society that is sensitive to its own people’s needs is a community, in community there is no bureaucracy because your issues are my issues and by working together the solutions come, sometimes easy, sometimes with a struggle but a community doesn’t turn their back on their own.
The Occupiers are in a fragile situation with the city ordinances namely the curfew, which is illustrated clearly in this recent video of an occupier speaking at a Burlington city council meeting. Having Homeless using the occupation camp as a residence presents a lot of different issues and complexities for the organizers and protesters to deal with. I believe protesters are willing to deal with these complexities because the homeless are one of the resultant casualties of Wall Street’s greed and deception, and because of the precarious situation with the city curfew – illustrated in this video of another occupier speaking at the city council meeting.
Occupy Burlington is not only protesting for a better World they are making it a reality. SUPPORT THE OCCUPATION HOW EVER YOU CAN!