Council OKs funding for day shelter

October 29, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday narrowly approved funding a daytime shelter for the homeless this winter after a last-minute attempt by Councilwoman Penny May Nigh to delay the vote.

Last winter, some of the people who used the REACH Cold Weather Shelter at night went to the Washington County Free Library's downtown facility during the day, which led to complaints by library patrons and library officials.

The head of REACH - Religious Effort to Assist and Care for the Homeless - asked the city for $17,700 to help pay for a daytime shelter program it is running this winter at New Light Metropolitan Community Church of Hagerstown.


Council members N. Linn Hendershot, Lewis C. Metzner and Carol Moller voted for the city to give REACH the money, which is to pay for utilities, phone, security and other costs.

The city will ask the Washington County Commissioners to help fund the program.

Before the vote, Nigh said she thought the issue should be tabled while the city makes sure the decision would not jeopardize money previously committed to CSAFE.

CSAFE, formerly known as the HotSpot Communities, was going to use the money for after-school programs.

Nigh held up videotapes from two previous council meetings and said the council should review them before voting. But a motion to table the issue failed by a vote of 1-4, with only Nigh voting in favor.

There was no further discussion before the council voted 3-2 to provide money for a daytime shelter.

"I think it is pretty sad when our government thinks more of homeless people than of our children that need after-school programs," Nigh later said.

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said that while the council discussed giving money to CSAFE, it never voted to do so.

How they voted

The Hagerstown City Council vote on funding a daytime homeless shelter:

Yes: N. Linn Hendershot, Carol Moller and Lewis C. Metzner

No: Penny May Nigh and Kristin B. Aleshire

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