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4 arrested for squatting at former Burlington YMCA

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Burlington Police Wednesday returned to the former YMCA building on College Street to address concerns over people squatting in the privately owned building. It comes after the city last month cleaned up homeless encampments at both the former Y and Memorial Auditorium.

The old YMCA has been closed since 2019 and the graffiti-covered building has become a place where homeless people say they break in to sleep.

Cody Martin is among those who have squatted in the building. “I didn’t have anywhere else to go. I’m homeless, I’m on the street. It’s out of the cold,” he said.

“Because there is no place for the homeless to stay here. It’s overpopulated. There is no housing. It’s the only warm place to stay,” added Brittany Beauchain.

They say they are among a few dozen people who stay in the privately owned property at night. Our cameras were rolling as one man climbed out of a window and then threw a bag down from a second-story fire escape and as others filed out of the building.

The shuttered structure is covered with broken windows and evidence of repeated break-ins. Crews could be seen putting up plywood Wednesday in an attempt to keep people out.

“It’s just sort of a losing battle it seems. We can’t be here all the time... kind of doing our best,” said Nick Frye, who manages the property. “This morning I came down, saw that this door was unlocked and open and chained it off per the fire marshall’s request.”

Shortly after the door was locked, Burlington Police responded for an attempted break-in. Four people were charged with trespassing and police say one person was sent to the hospital for a leg injury after trying to jump from the building.

But the people who have called the building place home, say it should be used to help the homeless. “It should be a homeless shelter. There are over 40 rooms in there,” Martin said.

Despite people living there for weeks, officials at Burlington’s Permitting and Inspections Office Wednesday said they were unaware of anyone inside the building and that it had been checked as recently as Tuesday.

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