LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Location wrong for homeless shelter
I am adamantly opposed to the overnight homeless shelter for chronic inebriates that was approved by the the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Commission on July 23. I do not deny that a homeless shelter is important to the Bemidji area, but I ...
I am adamantly opposed to the overnight homeless shelter for chronic inebriates that was approved by the the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Commission on July 23. I do not deny that a homeless shelter is important to the Bemidji area, but I believe the location and a number of other reasons preclude it being built in downtown Bemidji.
First of all, the Unitarian Church is not vacant. Services are still held there. I believe they were approached to sell the property, not lease it. Who is the buyer? How much are they paying for the property? As far as properties in Bemidji go, I find it hard to believe one could not find a more desirable location and more up to date building than the church.
A shelter located in the church would negatively impact the library across the street which is open until 7 p.m. weeknights, the law office next door, the Headwaters School of Music and the Arts in back of it, the Beltrami County Social Services Building and the day care, and the Northland Apartments (seemingly overlooked in the petition) directly across the street where 100 apartments house individuals that include the elderly, the vulnerable, disabled and single parents with children, all exposed to increased traffic and loitering by the homeless, waiting to sign in for the night for a "place to lay their head." When they are disbursed or kicked out the next morning they would go for warmth and a place to sit in one of surrounding businesses mentioned above.
I would like to see more thought put into the petition. It sounds like the cart went before the horse. It is important to remember that the homeless are homeless for a reason: mental problems, alcoholism and/or drug addiction, and some have criminal backgrounds. In my opinion, they need a place to stay for a longer period of time and should be able to participate in a detox program. The public can contact Mayor Rita Albrecht and the Greater Bemidji Joint Planning Commission. Their next meeting is Aug. 12 at 6 p.m.