I talked to Kevin Noonan, director of Open Pantry Community Services this morning. The Open Pantry runs the Warming Place shelter at the York St. Jail, which is out in the cold and without money after June 30.
"Any idea why you didn't get the contract from the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) to continue running the Warming Place?"
"Well, according to John Shirley at DTA, it's because the city wouldn't give us an occupancy permit for York St. We had asked the city for an extension until September so we could get the building we were going to buy ready but they wouldn't give us one."
Considering that the contract for demolition of the old jail hasn't even gone out to bid yet, what would have been the harm to allow the shelter to operate over the summer?
Don't you think the city's Office for Housing knew that the lack of an occupancy permit would be a deal-killer? And that therefore, by default, the contract would go to the Friends of the Homeless, which can only provide half the beds of the Warming Place? Ron Willoughby of the Springfield Rescue Mission is going to reopen his Taylor St. shelter, and is happy to take 35 homeless, sober men. What happens if you're not in that category?
The Emergency Shelter committee for the city's Ten Year Planning process is happy....with Taylor St. coming online, we have the 85 funded beds at the Warming Place covered. Of course, the true occupancy was over 100 people, with extra people beyond that referred to the Friends of the Homeless. Now what will happen?
I expect there are a number of other sectors in our community happy about the demise of the Warming Place.
Homeless people are not among them.