November 23, 2014

Elyria
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Lorain homeless shelter relocation on hold

 

Steve Majcher sits on his bed Sunday at the St. Joseph Homeless Shelter in Lorain. This is the second year Majcher has been staying at the shelter, which houses 50 men and 16 women. Residents of the shelter are provided with a hot evening meal, a shower, a place to do their laundry and a breakfast in the morning. ANNA NORRIS/CHRONICLE

Steve Majcher sits on his bed Sunday at the St. Joseph Homeless Shelter in Lorain. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

LORAIN — The future of the city’s homeless population is up in the air after a heated Zoning Board of Appeals meeting Wednesday during which a permit for St. Joseph Overnight Homeless Shelter was tabled.

Patrick Gareau, president of Catholic Charities, said city officials are hurting the city’s homeless by tabling a request for a conditional-use permit for St. Joseph Overnight Homeless Shelter to operate in a new location at 205 West 14th St.

Safety Service Director Robert Fowler said that there are too many unanswered questions with Catholic Charities’ proposal to operate the shelter in the former Horizon Activities Center, which is in a residential area.

“We need to have a better understanding of what’s going to happen,” he said.

Catholic Charities, which operates the current 65-bed shelter on West 15th Street, proposed the new location due to the significant investment that would have to be put into the current property to bring it up to code, Gareau said.

“That building is over 100 years old. In order to invest in that building, you’re left with a significant investment that just isn’t ideal. . . . We’d rather invest in a building that will be around for years and years,” Gareau told Zoning Board of Appeals members Wednesday.

Catholic Charities was ordered to address a number of fire code violations, including a lack of sprinklers in the facility, since taking over the shelter when St. Joseph Church closed in 2010. The shelter’s occupancy permit was set to expire Nov. 4, but the city allowed the shelter to remain open through April 4 while Catholic Charities worked on a plan.

Gareau said Catholic Charities was directed to the former Horizon building by a member of the Lorain Development Corporation. He criticized city officials, whom he said haven’t responded to multiple phone calls regarding the property.

“If they don’t act and help make this a reality, there will be no place for the homeless in October,” he said.

Residents, some of whom have used St. Joseph’s services, also criticized the city at Wednesday’s meeting for not approving the permit.

“They have no real reason for declining,” said Lorain resident Kate Downie. “I am worried. They are denying human rights.”

Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer, who was not at Wednesday’s meeting, said he’s been working with Catholic Charities to find a solution, even extending its permit at West 15th Street so that the homeless could have a place to stay during the cold winter months.

“There was no call to talk about what was going to be done … the city has not been brought up to speed,” he said. “What I don’t want to see is where they move into a new building and have the same problems as they have had at the old building.”

Ritenauer said that he would like to quickly come to a compromise with Catholic Charities and hopes to set up a meeting with the agency prior to the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting next month in which the issue is scheduled to be discussed.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMillerCT.


  • oldruss

    Why does the Chronicle-Telegram show a picture of the old St. Joseph’s Hospital, nka St. Joseph Community Center, when the article has NOTHING to do with that building? The St. Joseph’s Homeless Shelter that is at issue is presently located at the old St. Joseph’s Church, and wants to move to the former Horizon Activities Center. This is not the first time the Chronicle-Telegram has published the obviously wrong picture in connection with this story which has more lives than a cat.

    • geothemole

      The members of today’s media do not take enough time to verify accuracy. St. Joe’s hospital … St. Joe’s Church. At least it was St. Joe’s.

    • kspaetz

      I apologize for that. That was my fault; we’ve taken the picture down. -Karie

      • Phil Blank

        Someone goofed it up in a past article and the photo was labeled wrong and never corrected.
        If they would correct the label on the photo, it wouldn’t happen again.

        • kspaetz

          Phil, you’re right. I went back and fixed the photo from the previous where I got it from, so it shouldn’t happen again.

      • Zen Grouch

        Oldruss is just ticked off because he was promised a can of beer if he posed for that photo… and he’s still waiting.

      • Michael

        Karie, it took character and integrity to step up and mention this error. It’s not that anyone did anything wrong, it’s that small things did happen. My congratulations to you for posting this.

      • oldruss

        Yes, Katie did finally run the correct picture, but only after Mr. Young, Editor, brought the error to her attention. Unfortunately, this is not the first time the Chronicle-Telegram has made this same “mistake”, as Phil Blank has pointed out.

  • Phil Blank

    As per “They have no real reason for declining,” said Lorain resident Kate Downie.”
    Yes they do have a reason!
    They want all homeless people out of Lorain, but are too cheap to buy them a one-way bus ticket to some other city.

  • Bob Sweatt

    Safety Service Director Robert Fowler said that there are too many unanswered questions with Catholic Charities’ proposal to operate the shelter in the former Horizon Activities Center, which is in a residential area.

    In other words. Not in my neighborhood. Because out of sight , out of mind. Right??

  • ZX3

    The old PACC on 28th just off of Elyria Ave would be perfect.
    Sleeping rooms, a kitchen, and parking.
    It probably could be had for a song.