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Council to consider establishing homeless shelter

News Staff Writer

Atmore City Council members approved two upcoming events that will involve Heritage Park and promised to further discuss concerns over the city’s lack of a shelter to which homeless individuals can go to escape cold weather, violent weather systems and other possible life-threatening occurrences.
The shelter issue was brought to the table by District 3’s Eunice Johnson and reinforced by Sandra Gray of the American Red Cross office in Atmore.
“We had a lot of cold weather the last week, and we’ll continue to have cold,” Johnson said. “We have tornadoes coming, and some people don’t have a sufficient place to live. If we look around, Atmore has a lot of homeless people. You see them on different corners now, and we want to let them, and the community, know that we are concerned about our homeless people. We’re looking into it.”
Mayor Jim Staff proposed that the council have a workshop to dig deeper into the need for such a shelter and the possibility of establishing one.
Johnson’s plea got some backup from Gray.
“That’s my purpose for coming today,” Gray said. “We had a lot of phone calls about people being cold, and they also called and asked if we had a ‘warming shelter’ where the homeless can go in and get warm, then — when everything is good — they go back out.”
She explained that Red Cross officials have established a shelter, though not a warming shelter, at Empowerment Tabernacle, located at 309 Peachtree Street.
“That will be something to really consider, to have a shelter for storms and a warming shelter in the City of Atmore,” she suggested. “In Escambia County, we don’t have any shelters. Pastor Daryl (Catadro) North has opened his church and told us at Red Cross we could use his churches in Flomaton, Atmore and Frisco City. As a unit — the council and mayor — we should put something in place. Grace Fellowship [Church, on East Nashville Avenue] has a shelter, but they handle it themselves.”
In a post-meeting discussion with Staff, Gray told the mayor Red Cross officials just need a building. The organization will furnish snacks, water, blankets and other items with which to stock the shelter.
Prior to the homeless shelter debate, the council:
*Approved the use of Heritage Park by the Atmore Community Hospital Foundation for a gumbo cook-off scheduled for Saturday, April 6. More details will be published in a future edition of Atmore News.
*Approved the use of Heritage Park as the rallying point for the annual Autism Awareness Walk, which is set to begin at 10 a.m. on April 13. More details will be published in a future edition of Atmore News.