City aids evicted homeless

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 25, 2004

Six families evicted from the Suffolk Homeless Shelter on Tuesday can temporarily take comfort that they will have a place to call home, thanks to the city’s intervention.

At the shelter late Tuesday, a staff worker, who did not want to be named, said the ousted families were not following the rules. She added that the shelter has maintained a long list of infractions involving the families, including failure to do their chores. She also noted that she was busy cleaning up the mess the families left behind.

These families made up all of the residents who lived at the shelter as of Tuesday.

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Terry Miller, executive director for the shelter, was unavailable Tuesday night; however in a television interview earlier in the day, she said the shelter must assure its many donors that families housed in the shelter are following the guidelines.

&uot;Our donors expect us to be accountable,&uot; Miller said to a WVEC TV reporter.

But city officials are not buying that.

Clearly disturbed by the day’s chain of events, Suffolk City Manager R. Steve Herbert said Tuesday that the city contributes more than $100,000 annually to the homeless shelter, and that the city is picking up the tab for the families’ hotel stay at an area motel.

The Suffolk Homeless Shelter is an independent entity, which answers to a local board of directors.

&uot;While we don’t oversee operations (of the homeless shelter), we’re still concerned that something like this would happen at Thanksgiving,&uot; said Herbert.

In an email sent to the homeless shelter Tuesday afternoon, Suffolk Social Services Director Leonard Horton requested that the agency reverse its course.

&uot;The city requests that the Suffolk Homeless Shelter reconsider their action to evict the entire resident population during the Thanksgiving holiday,&uot; wrote Horton.

There’s also been an underlying suggestion that the shelter took the action to grant itself some time off during the holiday.

Horton referenced numerous statements from both shelter residents and shelter staff, adding in the email, &uot;We have received conflicting statements from the shelter staff concerning the planned operations of the shelter over the Thanksgiving holidays from a statement of total closure on Wednesday and Thursday, to being fully operational during the entire period.&uot;

Horton requested that the shelter board reconsider the decision at its meeting last night.

Herbert said the city will provide housing for the families until alternate arrangements are made.

&uot;As long as they need a place, we will pay,&uot; stressed Herbert.

He added that the city is also working to ensure &uot;that they get to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal.&uot;