Homeless Transition Center in Sight for North Charlotte Street | Local News


POTTSTOWN – The non-profit group that created a warming-up center for the homeless in the former St. Aloysius parish school is now seeking support from the borough council for zoning relief to open a “center transition “for the homeless in the 100 block of North Charlotte Street.

Speaking on behalf of Pottstown LIFT (Living in Faith Together), attorney Paul Prince said resident Paul Desch offered to donate the building at 161 N. Charlotte St. for his use.

But the building will need $ 400,000 in repairs and the modifications to be made are adapted to the center. Zoning parking requirements are also a challenge. “Zoning is impossible,” Prince said.

Located at the intersection of North Charlotte Street with Union Alley, between Walnut and Beech Streets, the indescribable stucco building is located in the ‘Traditional Town Quarter’ area.

The proposal is contested by several traders and by Pottstown Area Industrial Development, the borough’s economic development agency.

PAID Director Peggy Lee-Clark told the board at the Aug. 4 working session that PAID supports “collaborative solutions to roaming,” but its primary responsibility is “to create the conditions that stimulate business investment and retention by working on solutions to business challenges. the community is facing. “

She said PAID opposes the one-year extension of the board given to the warming center in May, as well as any other similar facility in the traditional area of ​​the city district.

One of the businessmen who has made a significant investment in Pottstown is April Barkasi, who owns the BB&T Bank building at the corner of High and North Hanover streets. His growing engineering firm, Cedarville Engineering, is located in the building, as well as a business incubator for the life sciences.

Additionally, Barkasi owns the former Mercury newspaper building at the corner of King and North Hanover streets, which it intends to convert into a boutique hotel and whiskey bar.

“I am dedicated to this community and I put all my eggs in this basket,” she told the council. “I believe the leaders will make the tough decisions and respect the protections” contained in the zoning code, she said.

Karen Van Horn, who lives across from the warming center, said there had been issues during the winter, including those waiting to enter “peeing on the side of the church” as well as on the fence of the Red Horse Motoring Club across the street.

One of them knocked on her door “to ask for cigarettes and money,” she told city council. “there are no security measures,” she said. “I am fiercely opposed to this. It is an absolute danger to security.”

But Tom Niarhos, the executive director of LIFT who was in the warming center every night, said steps had been taken to reduce these problems.

Among the planned changes are transportation to and from the warming center, and having them taken to a center the next morning to try to accommodate them.

Another businesswoman, Tracy Purdy, supports the measure.

Owner of Three Daughters Inn, a bed and breakfast that opened three years ago, Purdy has also worked as a professor of town planning. “I see no problem in approving this, at least temporarily, until another solution can be found,” she said.

“The problem will not end if zoning relief is not granted,” Purdy said.

Prince said the idea behind the transition center is to give the homeless the help they need to find permanent housing and employment and, ideally, no one would stay longer than three days.

“If you don’t do this, where will the homeless go? ” He asked. “People don’t like the location, find us a building that is 5,000 square feet or more than the passage zoning for that and we’ll be happy to take it.”

This article first appeared as a post on The Digital Notebook blog.

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