October 24, 2014

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Lorain open to allowing homeless shelter to remain at site

St. Joseph Homeless Shelter may be closing its doors at midnight Monday  because of disputes with the city over fire codes. KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

Lorain officials say the St. Joseph Overnight Homeless Shelter will likely be allowed to open at its present location in October. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

LORAIN — The St. Joseph Overnight Homeless Shelter will likely stay put.

In February, the Zoning Board of Appeals approved Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Cleveland’s plan to relocate from 317 W. 15th St., to the former Horizon Daycare center at 205 W. 14th St. Catholic Charities agreed to invest $350,000 to $400,000 to upgrade the building and ensure it meets fire codes.

However, the deal fell through when Catholic Charities and the property owner couldn’t agree on a sale price, according to John Klee, Catholic Charities director of emergency and specialized services.

Klee said Tuesday his group is considering two or three other locations, but even if it found a location this week, there is “no way” it would have enough time to open the new shelter by October when the shelter season begins. The shelter, which houses up to 50 men and 16 women, operates from late October through April.

Catholic Charities had been seeking to move due to the age of the shelter located in the former St. Joseph Church, which closed in 2010. The building, built in 1896, lacks a sprinkler system in violation of Lorain fire codes.

The city had threatened to shut the shelter in November due to a lack of sprinklers and other fire code violations such as a lack of egress, but a deal was worked out to keep the shelter open.

Mayor Chase Ritenauer said the city is working with Catholic Charities to find a new location but would likely allow it to open at its present location in October if Catholic Charities works with the department on fire safety.

Police were criticized by some homeless people for evicting them Friday from a tent city on CSX railroad property. However, Ritenauer said the city tries to help the homeless.

There are two shelters in Lorain, but Ritenauer said some shelter clients are from outside Lorain. He said surrounding communities should open shelters so Lorain isn’t a magnet for the homeless.

“If we’re going to address this problem on a countywide basis, we need other areas to step up,” Ritenauer said.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 oregoodenow@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter at @egoodenowct.


  • GreatRedeemer

    Problem is as much the homeless themselves as it is the NIMBY

    • Phil Blank

      NIMBY?
      Want to explain for the rest of us?

      • GreatRedeemer

        Not In My Back Yard

  • Carrie Watson

    I’m a little confused as to why they didn’t address this when the shelter closed for the season earlier this year. I mean, I think it’s very important for a building to be up to code, especially when there will potentially be children in that building. As for the claim that there are 2 shelters, there are only seasonally 2 shelters. From what I understand, the primary year-round shelter always has a waiting list.