The week has been dominated by decisions about the placement of a temporary shelter for the homeless. Last week council had approved the city manager’s proposal to establish an overnight shelter and day center on the former city hall lot.
In the meantime, city and county staff and volunteers worked on Saturday, the 27th, to relocate the folks who had set up tents in front of the butterfly lot to a piece of land newly acquired by the county across Highway 99 from St. Vinnie’s Lindholm Center.
By Monday, county leadership suggested that this piece of property might work better as the home for the temporary shelter we had planned for the city hall lot. The city manager informed council of this possibility on Tuesday night, and council voted their support at the noon meeting on Wednesday.
This fast paced set of decisions has left some people happy, some angry, and many wondering how and why it came to pass. Keep in mind that the city has been looking for property for legal camping and/or a shelter for many months. When the decision to move to the city hall lot was announced, it caught many people by surprise -- but it was a choice born of necessity. We simply could not find another location. Folks who testified at the public forum last week were mixed -- some grateful, some frustrated by the limited capacity (initial occupancy was 38) and the lack of running water.
The county’s invitation is welcome. The site immediately found itself filled with 100 campers. Multiple port-o-potties were installed; water is available; and food, laundry and shower facilities are available across the street.
We are racing and getting a little ahead of ourselves -- the structure and management of this site is still a work in progress. The good news is that 100 people have a legal place to sleep this week that they didn’t have last week. And we’ll keep working to make sure the good news continues.