Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger Offers City Resources in response to Covid 19 Pandemic
Even as we all are facing the new reality of the world with COVID-19, and all of the challenges and uncertainties that have come with that, I also am deeply heartened by how our community is responding to this crisis. Over the last week alone, I have seen our City Council coming together for its first-ever meeting by Zoom and unanimously approving an emergency resolution, the Burlington School Food Project (with partnership from our own City Parks Department) pivoting to provide essential free meals to youth at 11 sites around Burlington, and across our city, neighbors finding new ways to check on each other and form connections even as we're apart.
Here are a few of the things on my mind right now:
North Beach Campground: In this pandemic, we are not going to leave anyone behind. That's why, this week, the City helped more than two dozen people experiencing homelessness move into campers at our North Beach Campground. This is a partnership: The City is providing the site, the State's Department of Children and Families is providing the campers (27), and ANEW Place is providing on-site services. The people who have moved into these campers were previously staying at the low-barrier shelter, but there isn't enough room there for the social distance that is necessary right now. Now, this vulnerable group in our community is in a safer place, and we are all safer too as a result. It was heartwarming to be at the campground on Thursday night, with darkness and rain starting to fall, as our warming shelter neighbors got the keys to the campers and moved in.
Stay Home and Stay Safe: Right now our top priority remains slowing the transmission of this virus, keeping our health care system functioning, and saving lives. I welcomed and encouraged the "Stay Home" order that Governor Scott announced this week, and it is a necessary next step in our fight against this virus. Even though it's tough, we must continue to stay home except for essential needs, remain six feet apart from anyone who isn't part of our own household, and support and connect with each other in remote ways.
Burlington Resource & Recovery Center: On Monday, March 23, we launched the Burlington COVID-19 Resource & Recovery Center, or RRC. The RRC's function is to provide relief to the economic disruption of COVID-19. If you are a renter worried about housing security, a business owner seeking access to federal assistance, a person experiencing homelessness who needs shelter, a Burlingtonian looking for information about City taxes and fees during this time or the federal aid that is coming, or someone looking to volunteer safely, you can get a 1-1 (remote) consult at the RRC and find many resources on the website. For more information, call (802) 755-7239 or go to the City website: https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/Resources.
Housing: This past week, I also joined a meeting of the State Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs for their meeting about a COVID-19 to ask them for action on evictions and foreclosures. No one should lose their home as a result of this crisis. In the short-term, if you are worried about how you will pay your rent or mortgage on the first of the month, get in touch with the RRC (contact information above) for help. Over the months ahead, we are going to need a sound policy response that encompasses our rental system, debt system, and more. I am committed to working through this solution at all levels of government and advocating for Burlingtonians.
Stay informed: With so much happening and changing rapidly, I've started giving a daily update about the City's response to COVID-19 every weekday at 2:00 pm. You can listen or watch this update by phone, Zoom, or Facebook Live. Also, throughout my time in office, I've held coffees with constituents every Wednesday morning. Now, I'm taking these coffees virtual. Please join me every Wednesday morning from 9:00-10:00 am over Zoom to talk about the City's response to COVID-19 or anything else that's on your mind. I welcome questions from kids who are home from school, too! You can find more information about how to watch or join both of these forums on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MiroBTV/.
I know that every Burlingtonian is encountering situations that we couldn't have imagined just a month ago, and I am seeing our community respond with resilience, creativity, compassion, and so much hard work. Together, we will get through this.
Talk to you soon,
Follow the latest local updates: https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/covid-19