Covid 19

Response to questions about evictions during COVID-19

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Posted at 6:45 p.m.

Even as we are focused on slowing the spread of this virus, I also have great concern about the economic disruption that has already begun. I know that much of the work in the days and likely months ahead will be focused on addressing these economic concerns.

I am hearing from many Burlingtonians who are renters, hourly-wage workers, small business owners, and others, who fear losing their homes during this crisis. Many residents have reached out to ask me to suspend evictions. City ordinances do govern some provisions related to eviction notices and rules, and we are examining those as we determine how to respond to this crisis. However, we have no authority to immediately suspend evictions, because unlike other cities that have taken this step, Burlington does not have any role in eviction proceedings. Instead, for our area, all eviction proceedings are adjudicated at the Superior Court.

Yesterday, as the City team worked to understand any new authority over evictions that we may have during this crisis, as one immediate and interim step, I called on all landlords to voluntarily suspend evictions and welcomed the announcement by organizations that house vulnerable populations that they are working to suspend all evictions.

Today, I am glad to be able to share an update: The Vermont Supreme Court announced this morning that they have suspended all non-emergency Superior Court hearings, and we believe that also means that there will be no new eviction orders in the days ahead. At my request, the City Attorney has emailed the Court requesting clarification and urging them to consider suspending the enforcement of any existing orders. Our governmental actions now need to recognize that we are at a moment of acute and sudden economic hardship for many. Further, at a time when public health demands that people social distance themselves from others, no one should be losing their home.

There are many other economic hardship issues that must be addressed in the coming days. At my direction, the Community and Economic Development Office is heading up the City’s COVID-19 relief efforts. Our intention is to release later this week a Burlington Relief Plan that will include local initiatives and help Burlington residents and businesses access emergency resources being released by the state and federal governments.

- Mayor Weinberger