Homeless shelter closing for Christmas

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 18, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Employees at the Suffolk Shelter for the Homeless are hoping to be home for the holidays.

Despite the controversy surrounding its closure for Thanksgiving, the homeless shelter is tentatively planning to close at 4 p.m. Dec. 24 and reopen Dec. 26, said Andrea Fowler, the shelter’s executive assistant.


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&uot;Our policy is to stay open if people don’t have anywhere else to go,&uot; said Fowler. &uot;If we have families who are not from Suffolk and we don’t have anywhere for them to go, we will make arrangements to stay open.

&uot;We won’t know whether or not we’ll be open until it comes down to the wire.&uot;

Any Suffolk families staying in the shelter will be put up in a motel for the two nights, courtesy of the Suffolk Department of Social Services, Fowler said. The agency will not pay for rooms for people from out of town.

&uot;It’s not fair for us to assume the costs of people using the shelter from other localities,&uot; said Joice Whitehorn, the city’s assistant director of social services.

&uot;At this point, I don’t think they are going to accept referrals from other localities (before the holidays),&uot; said Whitehorn. &uot;The shelter is being asked to let other localities know they will need to assume responsibility for their residents.&uot;

The families will be allowed back at the Suffolk Homeless Shelter after the holidays.

Last month, just days before closing for Thanksgiving, the shelter ousted six families – six women and their 11 children – because of repeated infractions, shelter officials said.

The city stepped in and provided the group with motel rooms through the Thanksgiving weekend.