Proposed homeless shelter location causes concern

New Haven Housing Authority (file).

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The Emergency Management Shelter Services currently sits on Grand Avenue across from the Farnum Court Housing Development. As the New Haven Housing Authority is in the midst of a major renovation to the property, the shelter is looking for a new home.

Curtis McBride sits on the board for the shelter and says they’ve been considering a site several blocks away on East Street.

“With our clients we need to be able to see what the residents are doing. We need to be able to count and keep track of everything,” said McBride.

The shelter first put a bid in for a building at 293 East Street last year but withdrew after the city asked them to consider several other locations.

“None of the properties would fit our needs. Either they were too expensive, too large, or they just weren’t right for what we need,” said McBride.

Not everyone agrees the East Street location is a good fit. Bender Plumbing sits a few doors down and showroom supervisor Tony DeBrizzi says they and other nearby businesses are trying to stop the shelter from moving in.

“The hours that the homeless shelter will be closed are the hours that we’ll be open. So, obviously, the people are walking around somewhere and I would feel better if it were an area that was better suited to their needs and less dangerous for them,” said DeBrizzi.

On Friday afternoon, dump truck after dump truck could be seen coming and going from the side street next to the building. The road is the entrance into the Gateway Terminal where sand, steel, salt and other products are dropped off and picked up.

“My heart bleeds. I want people to have a home, I just don’t think it’s the right home,” said DeBrizzi.

Shelter officials know it’s just a matter of time until they have to move out of their current building. They hope the green light comes soon and those who rely on the shelter will get some peace of mind.

“They are afraid that they are going to lose the shelter. They want to make sure they have a place to stay and that’s what we are doing out here,” said McBride.

Approval for the shelter to move in must come from the New Haven Board of Zoning Appeals. Currently a small portion of the building appears to be in a flood zone but the shelter is hoping the Board will allow them to move in anyway. The next Zoning meeting will be held March 14th.

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