Update 12:40 p.m. More than a dozen Yakima residents spoke for and against a proposal to make a permanent homeless shelter at 1702 Englewood Ave.
So many people were in attendance, that the hearing had to be continued to begin again at 3:30 p.m.
Those who spoke in favor of the facility mentioned its positive impact on the lives of people who already live there and the need in the community for a permanent shelter.
And the majority of those who spoke against don’t disagree -- they just don’t want it near their homes and businesses.
They spoke of a noticeable increase in foot traffic, illegal drug use and theft since Transform Yakima Together opened a temporary shelter at the location.
The hearing will resume at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, 129 N. Second St. Anyone who wasn’t able to attend at 9 a.m. are also welcomed to share their opinions.
The public will have an opportunity today to comment on a proposal to create a permanent homeless shelter on Englewood Avenue.
The idea comes from Transform Yakima Together — a local faith-based group that has been operating an emergency winter homeless shelter at the same location since mid-November and an outdoor shelter behind the former Kmart on East Nob Hill Boulevard for months prior.
Today’s meeting will take place in front of the city of Yakima’s hearing examiner, who then has 10 working days to decide whether to approve Transform Yakima’s request.
After the decision is made, the public has 14 days to appeal it. If an appeal is received, a 30-day comment period begins, followed by a 15-day rebuttal period and an appeal hearing before the Yakima City Council.
If the request is approved, Transform Yakima Executive Director Andy Ferguson said the group will have to do some work on the building to make it a viable long-term space, such as bringing the walls that create the four men’s and women’s living pods up to code — they’re currently constructed with pieces of particle board — and adding more toilets.
Shelter residents will be moved into tents in the building’s parking lot until late July when Ferguson expects the construction will be completed.
If the appeal is not approved, the group will move back to the land behind the former Kmart, where they have a three-year, low cost lease with the city of Yakima, which owns the land, to operate a camp from mid-March to mid-November each year.
Because Transform Yakima only has approval to operate the indoor shelter until mid-March, Ferguson wasn’t sure what the group would do if an appeal is filed and the process takes longer than he expects.
The meeting starts at 9 a.m. in the City Council chambers at 129 N. Second St.
Reporter Kaitlin Bain will attend the hearing and then at noon, will host a Facebook Live chat on the Yakima Herald-Republic’s Facebook page to answer readers’ questions about the project and hearing. Questions can be submitted in the comment box during the chat or, before noon, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.