Nick Wendell

You should support the houseless

November 3, 2021

After a recent trip to Sears Lane, Burlington’s encampment for houseless people, I was heartbroken to witness the basic decency the city deprives its unhoused people.

Those living in Sears Lane have nothing to their name but a tent and a few supplies, a far cry from the average UVM student.

If you have the means, give unhoused people everything you can. Both financially and in physical effort.

They sleep on dirt with only a thin layer of plastic to protect them from the merciless winter air. We sleep in heated bedrooms with three layers of sheets and locked doors.

Those of us with permanent shelter take for granted the fundamental human necessities only in the dreams of Sears Lane residents.

For many, it’s so easy to walk past the houseless people on the Church Street sidewalks like dogs in a kennel.

Instead of trying to avoid them, look them in the eye as human beings and offer to help.

Even the people who can still afford homes in Burlington can’t access them due to the current housing shortage, according to an Aug. 4 Seven Days article.

Despite the housing crisis, the city of Burlington still treats the houseless like criminals.

In 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont sued the city of Burlington for destroying a North Avenue campsite resident’s belongings twice without due process, according to an Oct. 14 Seven Days article.

UVM students cannot let this happen.

We have the power to help these individuals, and we cannot quietly sit back and let the city administrators bury our neighbors in conditions so wretched even a cockroach would look for refuge.

We can show Burlington leadership we won’t let them roll over our houseless community.

Join an organization right here on campus like UVM Mutual Aid, @uvmmutualaid on Instagram, or the UVM Union of Students, @uvmus on Instagram.

For those looking to donate, the @FoodNotCops Venmo is always looking for help.

The next time you go out for a night on Church Street, you should reach into your pockets and give to those who are stuck on the street and asking for help.

It’s never too late to get involved.

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