THURSDAY: Mostly sunny and not as cold. High: 50. Winds: South 5-10 mph.
THURSDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear. Low: 37. Winds: South 10-15 mph.
FRIDAY: Mostly sunny and breezy. High: 59. Winds: West 15-20 mph.
Homeless Shelter Re-zoning Set to Fail
An informal polling of Springfield alderman shows the Helping Hands homeless shelter will likely remain homeless itself.
The Planning and Zoning Commision has recommended denying the petition to re-zone the former Ace Sign Co. building on 4th Street to allow Helping Hands to move its homeless shelter, but the Springfield City Council will get the final say. It is scheduled to vote on the matter Tuesday at 5:30 p.m..
Newschannel 20 reached out to all 10 aldermen to see where they stood. The results showed a clear picture of what will likely occur Tuesday night.
Tucked into the neighborhood where most of its clients frequently visit, Helping Hands believes a section of the former Ace Sign Company would be a perfect, permanent home for its homeless shelter and other operations. It's currently leasing a temporary property through Springfield Housing Authority. Since that building is in the path of the railroad corridor, its future there past March is hazy.
As for a backup plan?
"Other than a couple other things that we're kicking around that we can't talk about yet, we don't have one," said the shelter's executive director, Rod Lane.
Because a protest petition has been filed against the request, the re-zoning needs a super-majority vote in favor by the council -- meaning eight of the aldermen must vote in favor. As of news time, five aldermen either did not comment or call us back, and only one, Joe McMenamin, said he was in favor. Four aldermen--Frank Edwards, Frank Lesko, Kris Theilen and Steven Dove--said they planned to vote against it.
"I just think without some kind of defense mechanism for the senior citizen high-rise, I think it's tough to put them people there," Ward 1 Alderman Frank Edwards said.
Lane isn't surprised, but he wants to go to the meeting, regardless.
"Let the city say it. If you guys are against us coming to a neighborhood where homeless are already at, then I need to hear it from you in public," he said.
Among the shelter's opponents are residents at Near North Village and Sangamon Towers. It seems to be something the building management wants to encourage, too.
A poster in the Near North Village advertising transportation to the council meeting also promotes a "residents appreciation pizza party," to which only residents who attend the meeting can go.
Pacific Management manages both Near North Village and Sangamon Towers. Near North's building manager declined to comment, and a call to Pacific Management's headquarters was not returned.
While Lane said he understands concerns about safety and lewd behavior, he believes the shelter would bring stability.
"They don't seem to acknowledge what's going well, and we could benefit that area," Lane said.
There may be a silver lining. While Dove said he plans to vote against the application, he said it is with the idea that the city would negotiate a multi-year lease with the shelter at its current location. Dove does not believe the rail corridor will expand until five or 10 years out, so the shelter may have a little more time to find that permanent home.