Bargain apartment or police nuisance? Opinions vary on Church Street building

184 Church Street, Burlington

By Michael Bielawski
Is it a bargain place to live? Or a dangerous neighborhood to avoid? That’s the question as calls to police continue to come in from a ‘problem apartment’ on the south end of Church St. in Burlington.

As police and the city grapple with multiple shootings at this location and citywide, they are calling for new laws to enable them to issue felony charges to perpetrators of gun violence.

This past Saturday night, police responded to two more calls at 184 Church St. The first call was at 6:45 PM, regarding an exchange of gunfire. The scene was clear when officers arrived, and no suspects were found.

Less than two hours later at 8:33 PM was another call. A suspect was identified and determined to still be inside, prompting Burlington’s Emergency Response Unit to perform a tactical search and clearance. They found Tajon Lytch, 34, of Winooski. Lytch is known by police for alleged connection to a long string of incidents. He was cited for reckless endangerment and released.

On Tuesday WCAX ran a report highlighting the apartment house concerning “hundreds” of calls to police. The building is now partially abandoned.

“We know back in 2016, 26 tenants lived in the building. Now, I’m told there’s only a handful left,” the report notes.

The owner, Burlington businessman and landlord Joseph Handy, has not returned a call. He told WCAX that he’s hired extra security, kicked tenants out, and other measures to mitigate the trouble.

“We have been trying to work with anyone that wants to help us, but we are not getting any help from anybody,” Handy said.

He also said there’s “definitely a drug issue” at the property. The city currently has seen 265 drug overdoses as of mid-July, more than they did in all of 2022.

This is not the first time that the media has highlighted the property. The Burlington Free Press in 2016 wrote “Burlington police have responded 178 times to a Church Street apartment building since January 2015, a rate that police say sets the address apart from any other in the city.”

Handy noted in this report that it’s very difficult to evict problem tenants, saying that Vermont laws (as of 2016) seemed to favor tenants’ rights and it often took several months to complete an eviction.

A former tenant speaks
In an email with VDC, former 184 Church St. tenant and current Barre resident Timothy Page (who works with VDC) discussed what it was like to live there. He said that when he left in 2019 the building was “on the upswing.”

He added, “It was truly affordable housing, which gave chances to people who otherwise would be driven out of Burlington, due to income or background.”

He also said that the ownership was sluggish at times to address repairs. An example was when police complained about too many break-ins into the hallways, rather than install new locks the tenant who was reporting the break-ins was asked to leave.

He also expressed concerns that if the building is truly neglected, it will be a crucial loss of affordable housing.

“The danger of labeling one of the very few actually-affordable buildings in Burlington as a nuisance property is that most of those people will not have any housing opportunities if forced to leave,” he said.

He added, “Also, it will lead to even more pressure on Sisters and Brothers (the name of the Handy’s company) to jack up rates and increase prerequisites for tenancy. Burlington will have successfully driven out even more of the disenfranchised which its elected Progressive officials claim to care about.”

Police need new tools
In the police report on the recent shootings, authorities noted that they don’t have the tools necessary to hold offenders of serious crimes accountable.

“But we need additional tools—particularly an appropriate, felony-level charge for reckless endangerment that involves firearms. When it comes to gunfire, particularly exchanges of gunfire, uncooperative participants are the norm. Criminals who shoot at each other in occupied apartment buildings or crowded city streets are not predisposed to working with police,” the report states.

It continues, “When no one is struck, and no one comes forward as a victim, we’re currently left with only a misdemeanor charge: reckless endangerment. I’m hopeful that the creation of a felony charge for reckless endangerment with a firearm will eventually be passed into law.”

The notion that Vermont’s law enforcement is not holding offenders accountable is not new. VDC reported in June of 2022 that the State’s Attorney of Chittenden County Sarah George has many connections to the Fair and Just Prosecution organization with financial backing by billionaire investor George Soros. The group is generally criticized for promoting policies that keep violent offenders too often on the streets.

The author is a reporter for Vermont Daily Chronicle.

Categories: Burlington

10 replies »

  1. Maybe these groups giving money for gain need to be taken out of the picture. How can a political group, who is obviously progressive, socialists who claim to be all inclusive take money backing from someone like Soros who was born into a Jewish family and then pretended to be a Nazi, (to save his own neck), then stole from other Jews while they were being taken to concentration camps and gas chambers? Anyone in my opinion, who is even remotely affiliated with a monster like him is, at the least, certainly lacking in moral character and is not fit to be a judge or anything else relating to someone’s life! The Judicial system in this state is packed full of this mindset.

    • I’d like to know where you got this information from.

      He was 13 years old when the Nazis invaded Hungary. He didn’t pretend to be a Nazi. He and many other Jews pretended to be Christian to save themselves and their families from the gas chambers. Didn’t work too good; hence the 6 million.

      I really do want to read your “facts” for myself. What site did you get them from?

      • With all due respect JayDee, demanding receipts for comments people make based on their knowledge and research is disrespectful and reflects poorly conceived notions. You know the saying, “you can lead a horse to water?” Why not take the information and start digging on your own behalf? We all had to find out facts through our own research from various sources. Free will, you can agree or disagree. Yet, you tend to demand we cite our comments like term papers. We are not paid propagandists like the lame-stream-media. Why not demand the paid propaganda machine cite and name their sources and provide receipts? You’ll likely be referred to DHS, DOJ, or Langley AFB.

  2. There used to be a policy in Israel where if the government could link terrorist to a property that property was leveled. Drug dealers are terrorists.

    • And Trump wanted to designate them as such, but “Oh, the horror” claimed the leftists…..Trump is so “racist”!

      BTW, Church Street looks like the South Bronx. When you have a former ruf & tuf Long Islander (me) who doesn’t even want to drive through those parts of Burlington, it ain’t lookin’ good. After all, once I shoot back, which I will most definitely do, the lunatics in Montpelier will be looking to take me down & free the aggressors – afterward requesting Pope Francis grant them Sainthood.

      What Vermont has done to herself is a crying shame and the state will suffer tremendously from a massive loss in tourist revenue and Real Estate taxes. Leftists, swampers, & Communists. When will people ever learn? If history serves us, the answer is: never. The Founding Fathers knew it would come to this – No, Mr. Franklin, we cannot keep our Republic.

      • Burlington looks nothing like the South Bronx. Been there lately? Talk about rough and tumble back in the 60s-70s.

        “Leftists, swampers, & Communists.” LOLZ!!! I’m more afraid of Concealed Carry.

  3. Chump change to the Handys as an income-producing residential property and probably worth more to them as a tax write off. I say knock it down and build more million-dollar condos.

    “…which its elected Progressive officials claim to care about.” Fuel the flames maybe???

    or this??
    “has many connections to the Fair and Just Prosecution organization with financial backing by billionaire investor George Soros. The group is generally criticized for promoting policies that keep violent offenders too often on the streets.”

    • My husband is FROM the South Bronx & therefore we are forced to return for family occasionally. Yep, many similarities since you “progressives” defunded the police & escorted illegal ALIENS & druggies into VT.

      Meanwhile, you are supposedly an American who fears the US Constitution and its amendments.

      Just curious: Since Vermont has had concealed carry since its inception & was ALWAYS one of the safest states in the union until you leftists forced George Soros lunacy upon this state, what made you “afraid” & WHY did you ever move here?

  4. In the Free Press article mentioned, they neglected to include that out of all of those calls only TWO had anything to do with actual residents, and both of those were false alarmed. I was living in the building at the time and was shocked by the implication that we residents were the problem, and I was given the preceding figure by the BPD liason. I’m glad no-one leveled us because of people from COTS across the street breaking in and getting high in our hallways.

    And yes, this is the Timothy Page interviewed in the article.

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