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Auburn Residents Debate Where Homeless Shelter Should Be Built

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AUBURN (CBS13) — Nobody can agree where Auburn’s homeless should go, but many people are saying “not in my neighborhood.”

More than 600 homeless men and women in Auburn are seeking a roof over their head. Shop owners and neighbors agree something should be built—but they don’t want a shelter in the heart of town.

It’s one of the most contentious issues facing the historic Gold Rush town: What to do with the homeless?

“These people are not different than us, they are human beings,” said homeless advocate Bob Litchfield.

Advocates for the homeless want the city to move forward on creating a safe place for the less fortunate to go.

“They’re good people, they’ve just hit some very difficult times,” said Pastor Dan Appel. “We need to provide for those people.”

However, others say a shelter in the wrong area will bring more problems.

“We’ve had a car window smashed, the convenience store has had two incidents—one at gunpoint,” said Bhakti Banning.

Crime and trash are just a few of the concerns. Old Town Auburn has seen a resurgence and many do not want to see that effort go to waste.

“You could have negative activity, such as people approaching other people, people sleeping in the streets,” said Rose McHenry.

While the shelters have been a highly debated issue, the city can’t continue to put off a decison—a 2007 state law mandates Auburn create a legal zone for the homeless.

“Yeah, it’s very difficult because there are a lot of impacts,” said City Councilman Bill Kilby.

The issue of where to put the shelter has been the toughest part for council. Auburn does not have a designated industrial or warehouse area, which means homes are always a few blocks away. Thus the reason most neighbors have the attitude of “not in my backyard”

“With all due respect, putting a homeless shelter that borders a prominent children’s park is borderline child endangerment,” said resident Richard Vorus.

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