Hearing on moving day center for homeless draws crowd

first_imgDozens of people attended Tuesday’s heated public hearing on the potential relocation of Vancouver’s day center for homeless people. Many residents, business owners and property owners oppose the idea while others, including service providers and formerly homeless people, support it.The city looks to purchase the 26,578-square-foot former state Fish and Wildlife building in central Vancouver for $4.3 million and use part of it for laundry facilities, storage, showers, restrooms and other services.“We’re really looking at this location to solve a problem,” said Peggy Sheehan, the city’s community development program manager.She was among a group of proponents that presented arguments for why Hearing Examiner Sharon Rice should approve the project.Rice presides over city land use hearings and will decide whether the city can relocate the day center to 2018 Grand Blvd. Rice is an attorney, not a city employee, and is seen as an impartial decision-maker. After her decision, which she has until Jan. 4 to make, the Vancouver City Council will then decide whether to purchase the property.Andy Silver, executive director of Council for the Homeless, spoke about why 2018 Grand Blvd. should become an “access point” for services, which he said would decrease homelessness — not increase homelessness and problems in the neighborhood. He said the ZIP code that it’s located in, 98661, already has the second-highest concentration of homelessness after 98660.Many people testifying at Tuesday’s hearing oppose the proposed day center.Richard Baranzano, who owns Fourth Plain Plaza shopping center, said the entire hearing was prejudiced because the city is already setting aside money to purchase the site. He added that the city’s findings disregard single-family homes near the building, as well as GATE, a program for young adults with development disabilities that’s located nearby.last_img read more