VANCOUVER, Wash. -- The City of Vancouver will pay $4.3 million for a building that will house a new, large day center for people who are homeless.
"Homelessness and affordable housing are pressing issues in the city of Vancouver,” said Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle in a statement released by the city. “Purchasing this property is in keeping with the City's desire to be proactive in addressing the growing need for homeless services in our community."
It does not seem like such a great decision to those who live right across the fence from the building, which used to house the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Amy Funk is one of those neighbors. She said there is already a problem with homeless campers in the neighborhood.
“There's a lot of theft, we've seen drug paraphernalia on the ground. We have to watch out for our children. They shouldn't put it next to a residential area,” she said.
Her neighbors agree.
“A lot of people want to move out of the neighborhood now, because of the homeless shelter,” said another neighbor, Tim Rollins.
Vancouver only has one day shelter now and it's small compared to the new building.
There's room for some small tables, bathrooms, tiny lockers and some coffee.
The new shelter is 25,000 square feet with room for plenty of storage and showers.
The current shelter is about a half-mile from a place called the Share House. Many who live in tents outside the house walk to the day shelter when it's very cold.
The new shelter is about two miles away.
I asked one young man hanging around outside if neighbors at the new place should worry about theft.
“Everybody should be worried about getting something stolen that is not secured,” he said.
That is one of many reasons neighbors fought to keep the day shelter out for some time. But nothing worked. It's infuriated some neighbors, including Alton Jones.
“I'm not happy with it. I went to that meeting. I wrote letters. The city already decided. They were just going through the steps. Let the people have the say that they're not gonna listen to—don't wanna hear anyway,” he said.
Now they dread the day the center opens.
“I've got new locks putting on my door, my future son-in-law is putting new window locks on everything for me because of it. I'm just not happy it's gonna be there,” said Kathleen McCuistion.
it seems they've done everything they can to stop the new day center for people who are homeless in Vancouver. But that does not make it any easier to accept.
“No. I'm not happy with it. Not at all,” McCuistion said.
Vancouver's manager of economic development said the city hopes to begin remodeling the building in February.