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Springfield City Council Approves Temporary Emergency Shelter in Commercial Buildings

Melorie Begay

The Springfield City Council unanimously voted to amend an ordinance, expanding which commercial buildings can provide temporary emergency shelter for people experiencing homelessness. 

With this decision, the building at 1650 Centennial Blvd--or another suitable commercial building to be used as a Warming Center--will be permitted to become temporary emergency shelters in commercial buildings. the Council is requested to adopt an ordinance.

The amendment modified ordinance sections 8.000 through 8.016, which previously stated that indoor temporary emergency shelters were permitted in church buildings and government buildings upon approval by the Director of Development and Public Works, or their designee. 

Now, the code amendments will allow temporary emergency shelters at commercial buildings with permission of the property owner. 

This will also allow a cold weather shelter to open as soon as Nov. 1. This expands the location options for an indoor emergency shelter, such as the Egan Warming Center, which is operated by Saint Vincent de Paul.

According to city council documents, this amendment provides no financial impact to the city. 

If city staff--including police, fire, building, or code enforcement staff-- have determined that any participating property is not in compliance with the requirements, the city manager may revoke the director’s approval. The revocation decision may be appealed to the city council. The city council may then affirm, modify or reverse the revocation.

Elizabeth Gabriel is a former KLCC Public Radio Foundation Journalism Fellow. She is an education reporter at WFYI in Indianapolis.
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