This is the second summer in a row that the town has encountered folks experiencing homelessness in the Fort Ethan Allen Cemetery.
According to Town Manager Aaron Frank, complaints filed with the Town Clerk’s office regarding the homeless presence have been resolved with help from the Colchester Police Department and the Howard Center’s community outreach team.
CPD Chief Douglas Allen said that it is not a chronic problem. However, there is only so much the town can do for folks struggling with home insecurity. “Like anything else, for those who are struggling and in need of social services—there has to be some kind of a buy-in,” Allen said. “People need to want the help.”
Colchester’s cemeteries are owned by the Town. The Clerk’s office administers plots and works directly with residents, and the Parks and Recreation Department maintains upkeep of the areas. However, cemeteries differ from public parks and beaches in that residents purchase plots—making the area a combination of public and private.
While there are no homeless shelters located in Colchester, Frank said that the town has partnered with groups who provide temporary housing, and have worked to support affordable housing in town including Windermere and Westbury mobile home parks.
The town has “more of a partnership and referral approach,” he said, to address homelessness. Both he and Allen pointed to the community outreach team as a helpful resource to better addressing social services in the area.
The nearest homeless shelters include ANEW Place and the Committee on Temporary Shelter in Burlington. The Colchester Community Food Shelf is also open from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and provides food assistance to residents.