It may not look like much from the curb, just another vintage home in the Vermont city offering student housing. But this Victorian at 295 Maple Street play a big role in the bio of Burlington's Bernie Sanders, who started renting the apartment at age 29 and used it as a staging ground for his political career. According to VT Digger, Sanders moved into the apartment, attached to the building's converted carriage house, with his son, Levi, in 1972, and made ends meet writing for a variety of alternative papers and publications and working as a carpenter (he had just separated from Levi's mother, Susan Mott Campbell). Various friends and associates suggest the apartment Sanders lived in for several years was fairly Spartan; the unit was filled with "stacks of checked-out library books and scribbled-on legal pads," was "stark and dark," and Sanders sometimes ran a power cord into the basement. One remembers a big blacklight.
Many of those interviewed for the article suggest that Sanders's experience, and personal struggles, with rising rents in this apartment encouraged him to get involved in politics, run for mayor in 1981, and later that year, push forward an unsuccessful attempt to enact a rent stabilization ordinance. Though Sanders's rent at the time wasn't revealed, the unit now goes for $1,300 a month, a relative deal in the fairly expensive Chittenden County.
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