Several current residents of the Oxford Street Shelter for the Homeless were surprised and pleased to learn that in the near future they will not be required to leave the Shelter at 7:30 am only to be admitted back in at 6:00 pm and not before. They will be able to remain in the building – especially on very cold winter days that are approaching.
The City has announced that “soon” – probably before winter arrives – the Shelter will remain open 24/7 so that residents do not need to fend for themselves outside somewhere. The City will purchase lockers for residents and add additional portable bathrooms next to the shelter in order to open a day shelter program according to the press release issued by the city spokesperson. The Shelter will remain open 24/7 until a proposed new one-story shelter is up and running for residents. Plans for the new shelter are in the preliminary stages of research.
“Really? I hadn’t heard that. It’s REALLY good news,” said Thomas Hill, 36, this afternoon when this blogger told him that “soon” he would not have to leave the Shelter at 7:30 am for the day. He spends days at the nearby Resource Center, the Public Library and walking around the Old Port he said. “This will make life a lot easier.” Thomas has been on disability for years for a leg injury and receives a small SSI check each month,.
Arjay Shepard, 28, was pleased to learn of the new policy as well. It’s hard to find a place to stay warm in the winter Arjay said. He spends days pan handling for cash when the weather is reasonable. His mother was homeless and he was raised in the Chestnut Street Family Shelter before coming to the Oxford Street Shelter. “It’s terrible that in this land of plenty there are homeless people,” Arjay said.
The Oxford Street Shelter is currently leased, poorly configured and expensive to staff because of its layout. Meals would be provided on site in a new facility as well as providing other in-house services.
Although the city’s press release does not indicate exactly when this new 24/7 policy will become effective, the press release does say that costs for the shelter are expected to run $340,000. until the end of the year. Future funding will be incorporated into city manager’s 2019 budget. Included in the costs of a day shelter program is the funding for an additional outreach worker to be hired to assist residents with housing resource issues and to encourage others to utilize shelter services.
The cost of leasing the Oxford Street Shelter is “roughly $12,500.” per month according to Jessica Grondin, city spokeswoman.