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City debates supporting new homeless shelter

City funding for a new homeless shelter is being put on hold.

Posted: Oct 8, 2018 11:02 PM

(St. Joseph,MO) City funding for a new homeless shelter is being put on hold. Monday the city council voted to postpone the emergency bill put forth by Mayor Bill McMurray, to help fund an emergency shelter at The Crossing.

The shelter will provide 41 beds for overnight shelter at the current drop in center location at 701 S. 8th Street. Shelter coordinators said the rush to create a new shelter comes after the Salvation Army closed its doors at the Booth Center to renovate their building and restructure their services; leaving a gap in resources for the homeless population.

“The emergency nature here is the Salvation Army is out of that business and winter is coming on and it’s almost the middle of October and we have people on the street that we need to help,” McMurray said.

Councilman Kent O’Dell said he wanted to postpone the vote to inform businesses and people living in the area of The Crossing’s future plans.

“You start putting up a free eating time and that’s where they[the homeless] will be forever, they are there [the drop in shelter] all day and now they’re going to be there all night,” O’Dell said. “Let’s pick a place where,or at least let the people know what’s going on around there before we start turning it into a homeless residence.”

The council will vote on whether or not to financially support the emergency shelter during their next meeting on Monday, October 22.

“This is the value of the group process, some of the council wanted a little more time so that the neighbors could weigh in, and I think that’s two more weeks is not going to make or break,” McMurray said. “We certainly need to do something to help the homeless and in two weeks I plan to vote yes.”

The Crossing emergency shelter will cost approximately $250,000 to operate for a single trial year. Whitney Lanning, Executive Director of St. Joseph Community Action Partnership (CAP) said approximately $168,000 of those funds will be going towards a 24-hour available staff to help with safety and case management of the shelter patrons. The Crossing has received $150,000 contribution from Mosaic Life Care and $20,000 from Buchanan County to help fund the shelter.

Pat Dillon, Vice President of Advocacy for Mosaic Life Care, said the shelter will help keep people out of the cold and off the neighboring properties.

“This doesn’t make the problem worst, this makes the problem better. This gives theses folks a place to be, not be out on the streets and not be out in peoples front porches,” Dillon said.

The Crossing will provide shelter to both men and women and will be open from 4 p.m. until 8 a.m. As temperatures continue to drop, The Crossing is hoping to open their emergency shelter later this month.

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