Traverse City commissioners last week took the first step in a process that could open the door for a 100-bed emergency homeless shelter near the Boardman Neighborhood.
It’s not a done deal, but commissioners soon are likely to consider a zoning change that would allow homeless shelters in most of the city’s commercial district. That course of action is needed if Safe Harbor of Grand Traverse Inc. officials are to realize their goal of converting a city-owned warehouse on Wellington Street south of Eighth Street into an emergency shelter.
The shelter plan stirred emotions -- anger, fear, skepticism -- among Boardman residents, and it’s hard to fault them for their concern, particularly about the unknown. But Safe Harbor officials also are justified in their desire to aid the community’s burgeoning homeless population. Too many people are too vulnerable to the elements, and the harsh, heartless winter past only intensified the need to consolidate and formalize the brave but scattered emergency shelter efforts currently shouldered by several area churches.
This is a difficult matter that demands study, patience and above all respect shown to all sides, by all sides. Perhaps this debate will spill over into other big-picture local issues, including affordable housing, but city officials must carefully weigh their options and determine what truly is best for the community.