Advocates Are Still Pushing for St. Johnsbury Homeless Shelter

The article below is from the Albany Times Union and was originally reported in the Caledonian Record.

Homeless advocates in St. Johnsbury say they remain committed to opening a winter homeless shelter in St. Johnsbury despite the town’s rejection of the idea.

After a proposal to put a shelter on Lincoln Street was rejected by the town, supporters recently suggested installing the shelter in an Elm Street building owned by Lyndonville-based Rural Edge, which once served as a youth shelter.

“It’s still cold outside so people need warmth,” said Joe Patrissi, of the Newport-based Northeast Kingdom Community Action. “We’re looking at it because Rural Edge said they’d donate its use for the winter. We have to make sure all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed.”

Patrissi said his organization has received a $20,000 grant to hire an employee to train and coordinate volunteers to staff the warming shelter. The proposal will soon be presented to the St. Johnsbury Development Review Board, he said. The concept must also be approved by the select board.

Patrissi told the Caledonian Record that the group is asking neighbors what they think about the idea.

Constance Sandahl, of Northeast Kingdom Youth Services in St. Johnsbury, which operated the former Elm Street youth shelter, said the property has enough room for 10 people.