City should support center for homeless
This is not the time for the city of Grass Valley to turn a cold shoulder to the area’s homeless.
The Hospitality House, a roving shelter that is in its first year of existence, has been told that it must close the doors of its welcome center by Friday or the city may take action. The shelter evidently needs a permit to run the seasonal office on Colfax Avenue in Grass Valley.
“They do need to cease operation or they could be cited in violation of the zoning ordinance,” Grass Valley Planning Director Tom Last told The Union on Tuesday.
The welcome center is the gathering point for the homeless. According to the volunteers who run the shelter, they spend a couple of hours a day there before being given a ride to one of the 25 churches that will house them overnight.
Joanna Robinson, who helped organize the shelter, said the Hospitality House wants to find a new home for the welcome center but has been unsuccessful. The center is a place for the homeless to shower, eat and get medical care. It is now located in a commercial area that includes a liquor store, a beauty salon, a park and restaurants.
Apparently, the city has received complaints from neighbors about the homeless, which at this time includes a pregnant woman and her three children. Last has suggested that the welcome center has generated a number of complaints, although a review of the police blotter over the past several weeks does not seem to substantiate that claim.
Representatives from the Hospitality House are expected to meet again today with Last, who apparently is prepared to grant a temporary reprieve. The Hospitality House, which only operates during the winter months, will cease operations on April 15 even if it is allowed to stay open.
This is at best a temporary act of charity.
The welcome center is a key part of the Hospitality House program. A different church hosts the homeless each night, but the welcome center serves as the starting point. If the homeless do not know where to go each day, the program will undoubtedly flounder.
The city should support the churches and approximately 300 volunteers who have worked hard to develop and maintain a program that meets an obvious need. The Hospitality House is not asking for public funds, just a place to take care of those unfortunate souls who are down on their luck.
The city should rearrange its priorities in this matter and seek ways to work with the Hospitality House. It needs to help the organization find a new home for the welcome center.
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