Homelessness in Jamestown and efforts to combat it topped discussions by Jamestown City Council Monday night.
Housing Committee Chair Marie Carrubba said the issue of homelessness in downtown Jamestown, including people camping under the South Main Street viaduct, isn’t new and that the Homeless Coalition has been trying to address it for over 15 years, “The moratorium that was lifted on evictions has now created more of a homeless problem in the city because those individuals are no longer housed where they were not paying rent and utilities. So, we’re seeing more and more on the streets. I believe police, public safety, have been down trying to address the issue. I know the city has been down there offering assistance and giving resources and information to the individuals who have been there.”
Council member at Large Jeff Russell said he planned to talk to the groups of homeless people to find out what their situations are, “Are they from Jamestown or have they come here from somewhere else? Did they have housing? Were they removed from housing and what the situation is? I’m not going to leave it up to others to do that. I’m going to do it myself. And if there’s any other council members that want to join me, to come down and have a chat, and just see how we can help or what their situation is, then I would welcome that.”
Mayor Eddie Sundquist said challenges in Jamestown include the evictions, the location of the city and cost of living; weather, and homeless shelters being at capacity. He said there are some actions the city is taking right now to try to address homeless issues including moving homeless populations out of unsafe areas like the viaduct or near unsafe buildings, “As we shift out of more visible areas, you’re seeing more people end up in our parks. You’re seeing more people end up under other areas. And so we’re trying really hard to keep up with that. At the same time, we’re providing resources. You mentioned the beat patrols – we send out foot patrols down to provide resources. We also work with our partners at COI, at UCAN Mission, with Salvation Army Domestic Violence, and others.”
Sundquist said the city is also working with the county, who has a program to provide funds for those who are here in Jamestown and don’t have the means to get back to wherever they call home. He said in early September, the Homeless Coalition will be having an in-person meeting in Jamestown, “Their entire goal has been to really focus on funding and on the ground support. So I personally went to that group and made a plea and said, ‘You need to be in Jamestown. What good are you as a group if you’re not physically here helping the people that we have.'”
Sundquist said the date will be announced this week. He added that local churches will be invited as well.