City Attorney Richard Appicello said although the shelter group wants the city to initiate a rule change to allow the shelter to keep operating, it would be very awkward for the city to advocate for the change when, in fact, the shelter non-profit moved into the old fire hall without making sure such an operation was even legal there. Which it wasn’t.
So the council voted unanimously to punt the ball back into the shelter’s court saying they’re free to apply for a rule change and see what happens. But shelter president Patrick Alexander strongly hinted that his organization may try to find another location rather than go through the expensive process of trying to change the zoning but then not getting it. Opposition from nearby neighbors and businesses is pretty strong.
In the meantime, the shelter has been given the option of opening their doors when the nighttime temperature drops below 40 degrees as an emergency humanitarian service. And they’re probably open tonight (Monday) because the thermometer at 11pm reads 33 degrees.
As for the long term, Alexander says they’ll re-group and try to come up with a solution starting in the Spring. He says they’ve received an offer for a free modular building – but it’s in pieces – and thus needs assembling wherever they can find a location with the correct zoning.
The shelter non-profit was originally given a $45,000 grant from the city as a hunting license to find a place to set up shop. Warming shelter director Amanda Cherryholmes says they couldn’t find a landlord that would rent to them except for the owner of the old Taft Fire Hall on SW 48th, who happens to be Mayor Don Williams. (That’s another story).
The shelter has a lot of supporters around town, but not surprisingly no one wants it near their house, store, school, etc.
The final chapter obviously hasn’t been written on the issue because homelessness is getting worse by the day. Shelter director Cherryholmes adds they’re not just about providing warm beds on a cold, windy and/or rainy night, they also provide resources for the homeless, a number of whom Cherryholmes says they’ve found jobs for. They also offer them food, clothing, personal hygiene products, a place to do laundry, social security assistance and other vital services.
So it looks like it’s “re-group time” for the shelter organization. For those who would like to help them in any way can contact them through their website at LincolnCityWarmingShelter.com.