“We’re scared, we’re nervous” community members voice concern over new homeless shelter

Tempers flared during a town hall meeting on Tuesday as city officials discussed plans to turn the former Grocery Outlet on East Sprague into a shelter for the homeless.

Should the City succeed with its plan, the new homeless shelter would share a parking lot with Project ID, which is a center for adults with developmental disabilities.

That’s something workers at Project ID, as well as the parents of those special needs adults, are worried about.

During the meeting, many of those parents voiced concern for their children’s safety.

Kelly Keenan, Director of Housing and Human Services, took the opportunity to talk about the shelter’s potential to serve as a stepping stone for the city’s homeless.

“We do want you all to be safe here,” said Keenan. “We want the people who need to access shelter resources to be safe as well.”

Project ID Director Bob Hutchinson said they’re already dealing with transients. Two weeks ago, they asked a man to leave the property. That man threw a brick through their glass door.

“Homelessness does not equate to criminal behavior,” said Hutchinson. “However, security protocols and measures must be in place to ensure that the project can co-exist safely.”

As for now, the City says plans to build will move forward unless the building itself experiences serious problems.

Tempers boiled over at times during a town hall to discuss plans to turn an empty grocery store into a 120 bed homeless shelter — it’s right next door to a center for adults with special needs. The staff at project ID fear their vulnerable clients will be put at risk. #4NewsNow pic.twitter.com/ezieEIADpf

— Kyle Simchuk (@KyleKXLY) July 31, 2019