Homeless Concerns:City of Meridian Responds

Officials with the city of Meridian say they want to help address a problem that has been brought to their attention about dozens of families within the city who do not have a home. However, at this time they say what the city can do is limited.

"We've worked hard to be as cooperative as we could," says John McClure, who's the Community Development Director for the City of Meridian. He says at this point there's very little that the city can do to allow officials with the People's Charity Clinic to open a shelter to house more than 70 people. Many of those needing shelter are children. Charity officials' proposal is to open the shelter in the old Long's Warehouse Facility at 715 Front Street.

"We're not in a lead role," says McClure. "That's not our charge to find solutions to various social ills. That's other entities and other agencies, and then we work with them."

The proposed 55-thousand square foot site for the shelter is owned by Rush Hospital. According to charity officials, the hospital recently offered to donate the facility to be used to help provide housing for some people who do not have a home. According to McClure the head of the charity clinic first informed him about the problem, and the proposed plan of action last Friday.

In order for this building to be used as a shelter McClure says he told charity officials that he needed at least two things from them. The first was confirmation that they would have control of the building. The second thing was confirmation that the state would allow the agency to use the facility, even as a temporary shelter.

"We can't supercede what they (do)," says McClure. "They've (state officials have) got to allow it, and then we've got to be sure that it complies with our requirements. One shower and a couple of commodes, it just wouldn't be safe. It wouldn't be sanitary. It wouldn't be healthy. It would not comply with our code requirements."

According to McClure, city code requires at least one shower in a shelter for every 8 people who are staying there. He also says before anyone could be housed in the proposed shelter site, the sprinkler system there would have to be tested, and the building would have to be cleaned.