The bulk of tonight’s Town Council meeting will consist of discussion about the Good Neighbor Plan in connection with the IFC’s transitional housing facility and emergency shelter that will open next year on Homestead Road. The negotiations have been excruciating for both sides, and passions continue to run hot. Expect many people to speak out for and against many aspects of this plan.
For a productive discussion tonight, we’re hoping that people put aside politics and focus on the issues. The transitional housing piece has garnered no real opposition. The people selected for transitional housing likely will be high functioning and motivated to comply with societal norms.
The sticking points all originate from the oversight of the emergency shelter beds. Who fills those will be a crapshoot, and shelter staff can only exert so much control over guests’ behaviors. Without any real alternative place for the homeless on white-flag nights, the shelter of course will take in men who have not been vetted. It would be inhumane not to. The risk from inviting in strangers concerns the neighbors.
No list of rules can cover all eventualities or guarantee that no regrettable incidents will take place. Both sides need to recognize that truth and work together to stack the deck in favor of safety. Both sides need to exhibit attitudes and behavior that foster trust.
We, as a town, are asking the people who live near the new shelter to take one for the team. They will be hosts to some guests the rest of us are relieved we won’t have to think about. All of us, townfolk and IFC leadership alike, owe the Homestead Road neighbors big time. They deserve our respect and gratitude. I trust that will be apparent in everyone who comes to the mike to speak.
– Nancy Oates