City holds open house for proposed homeless shelter

Published 4:20 pm Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The City of Suffolk held a community project information meeting to inform residents about a proposed homeless shelter. Held at the Hilton Garden Inn Suffolk Riverfront on Thursday, Oct. 5, residents came by to learn and express their opinions on the city’s proposition of converting a hotel property located at 2361 Pruden Blvd into a programmed and managed homeless shelter. 

Various residents expressed concerns about safety over the proposed shelter in their area. One resident described an event at the hotel from last week.

“There was this lady, she was walking back and forth, she said social services sent her out there. And she was walking back and forth. She had a long coat on. And then she was just walking in the parking lot at the hotel. And all of a sudden, she was standing in the middle of the street. About five minutes later, a lot of police came,” they said. “We don’t want that in our neighborhood, and that’s right across the street from me, and I’ve got grandchildren …”

Email newsletter signup

Another resident said they learned about the meeting from a card notification in the mail. They wanted the city to know about their concerns for “safety and security in the neighborhoods surrounding” the proposed shelter.

“I’m not against homeless shelters, but I need to worry for my own safety,” they said.

They continued sharing their understanding of those in homeless situations but expressed concern over those who don’t become rehabilitated.

“Typically, those people, they’re down on their luck. They probably or could suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or alcoholism … So we’re already told that they’re going to have programs in place to help people like that. But then again, if they go out wandering and they have an issue, I think that’s where I’m worried,” they said. “I’m for what they’re doing, but I just want to know what they’re going to do … They say it’s temporary, 30 to 45 days. When you release them, where do you think they’re going to go if they’re not rehabilitated?”

Regarding the attendees’ safety concerns, City Manager Albert S. Moor II noted that the proposed facility will be secured.

“It’s going to be contracted out, managed with people on-site. It’s a short-term facility, [and] will be monitored and managed,” Moor said. “Today we have a facility that [has] residents there that come and go, and there’s been issues at that facility. What they see today compared to what we’re going to be in the future is going to be a totally different type of operation, but we do have a homeless population in the city, which we need to start addressing and providing some services to them.”

Deputy City Manager Kevin Hughes emphasized that the meeting itself is informing locals of what is being proposed.

“I think it’s important to note that this is a community information meeting. The whole point of this evening was to inform the residents about the proposal,” Hughes said. “We want to make sure that folks are educated before we start a public hearing process.” 

Moor expressed his hopes of what attendees will take away from the meeting.

“We want to educate them on the facility, and what’s going to happen there, that’s the whole purpose of tonight. And I hope they can take that away. And as we go through the public hearing process – the planning commission and the city council process – we can share additional information that they didn’t get tonight. And those who weren’t here, we’ll be able to hopefully educate them too on what’s happening,” Moor ended.

The first public hearing on the proposed homeless shelter will be at the next Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 17.