[Hpn] Business Council opposes Homeless Center Downtown - Covington Ohio USA (fwd) Ohio USA (fwd)

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Fri, 29 Dec 2000 01:03:56 -0800 (PST)

FWD  Cincinnati Enquirer - Thursday, December 28, 2000


     by K. Samples

COVINGTON - Some people are against a center that would get homeless men
off the streets. Apparently, they prefer their homeless wandering downtown.

I don't get it. The Life Learning Center, proposed for Eighth and
Washington streets, would reduce the city's homeless problem, not increase
it. Yet it is opposed by a majority of the board of the Covington Business

The property in question is owned by Bill Butler, the developer who remade
Covington's riverfront. He likes the project so much that he's offering not
only land but also money - at least $1 million to match federal grants.
Parking concerns

The site is currently a parking lot used by nearby businesses. The 116
spaces are badly needed to encourage commerce, the business council says.

Still, the lot belongs to Mr. Butler, who eventually would have developed
it anyway.

The Life Learning Center got zoning approval last week from the city's
Board of Adjustment. Opponents may appeal the decision in court.

Besides the loss of parking, some are against more social services in the
area. The homeless already visit a number of agencies around Pike Street,
including Welcome House, the Pike Street Clinic, the Parish Kitchen,
Fairhaven Rescue Mission and Storehouse Ministries.

But aside from Storehouse, which is privately run by a minister, none
provide basic services for men during the day. Welcome House shelters only
women and children. Men who stay at Fairhaven must have jobs or physical
Place to clean up

To some extent, these restrictions make sense; boarders must "get with the
program" in order to receive services. But some homeless people are too
independent or emotionally troubled to accept rigid structure.

Living on riverbanks or in parks, they're unlikely to keep appointments for
medical or mental health care. Some work in day labor pools, but others are
unable to find jobs without showers or a place to store their belongings.
Consequently, they may nod off in public libraries or use the bathroom
wherever they can.

The Life Learning Center would provide an alternative. The homeless could
shower, use lockers, make phone calls and put together resumes during the
day. At night, apartments would be available to men, women and families
pursuing specific career or education goals.

Best of all, they would get instant help from various public and nonprofit
agencies with offices at the center. Services would include medical care,
mental-health counseling, job assistance, even spiritual support - all
designed to guide people toward safer ways of life.

The staff would create an environment where loitering is not allowed, says
Linda Young of Welcome House, which is helping to organize the project.

Homeless people tend to form their own societies - complete with rules of
conduct and acknowledged leaders. To design an effective program, a Welcome
House employee has been working with these groups for months, learning how
they function and what they need.

This is exciting. With such a thoughtful, thorough program, the Life
Learning Center will improve conditions for everyone downtown. People
should be lining up to support it.


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