A Puyallup homeless resource center closed by the city seven weeks ago because of building code violations will be back in business Monday with new rules and new services.
New Hope Resource Center will begin serving its homeless clients again at 11 a.m. inside its building at 414 Spring St., said Cheryl Borden, the center’s program director.
The center, the focus of much recent controversy concerning a wave of homeless-related problems within the city, will phase in its reopening with limited hours and days of operation and then move to its former six-day-a-week schedule within two weeks, Borden said.
The center will initially be open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
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Center personnel have been delivering services to the homeless in the center’s parking lot since the city red-tagged the building in mid-March. The center serves lunch and provides counseling and social service referral services.
During the closure, workers corrected physical deficiencies of the building, including missing signs and wallboard. They also expanded the center to an adjacent space in the building and added new security cameras.
The closure also allowed time for staff members to formulate new procedures and rules, Borden said. “We have learned best practices from other centers and are employing them here,” she said.
Those new rules include more thorough background checks for clients, new rules with consequences such as loss of services for violators and a new community service requirement for those wanting the center’s help.
New Hope will add new programs with social workers and nurses in training assessing clients’ health and service needs.
New Hope’s number of clients has dropped from 75 or 80 during the cold weather to about 25 now, said Borden. The center was the gathering place every morning and evening for homeless people who were served by the community’s “Freezing Nights” program. Churches took turns providing evening meals and overnight shelter for the homeless during the cold weather. That program ended six weeks ago.
Since the overnight shelter program was suspended, Borden said the homeless have since scattered to friends’ and relatives’ homes, to cars and to new camping spots. With the resumption of full services at New Hope, Borden wouldn’t speculate on how the client load might grow.
Puyallup Mayor John Hopkins said the center’s reopening was an administrative matter between the center and the city’s development department.
“If they satisfied all of the requirements, then it is entirely appropriate that they be allowed to reopen their building,” he said.
The city has added homeless centers to its list of “high impact” businesses requiring special licenses to operate within the city.
The city and New Hope are now negotiating conditions of the city’s issuing a new high impact business license to the center. Before those conditions are imposed, the city and New Hope plan neighborhood public meetings to gather residents’ reactions to the proposed rules.
Some Puyallup residents contend the center’s presence has attracted more homeless people to the city. The city closed the center after dozens of Puyallup citizens testified at City Council meetings complaining about trash, increased crime and drug use they associated with homeless people.
John Gillie: 253-597-8663