More delays for permanent homeless shelter

More delays for permanent homeless shelter »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Kathi Bonlender owns the Sub Shop in Downtown Yakima. She doesn't think a permanent homeless shelter near downtown would hurt her business.

"If they have a place to go, then they're not bothering anybody else, but we need it. It's a need and if it was downtown, so be it," said Kathi Bonlender.

The Homeless Network of Yakima County thought it had the answer for a shelter, the old Roy's Market at Sixth and Walnut Street. Now, that doesn't seem likely.

"It is frustrating that we don't have a solution yet, and I wish we did have something right now," said Tim Sullivan, Yakima County Housing and Homeless Programs director.

The plan hit a few stumbling blocks. One is that Yakima County didn't qualify for a grant managers expected to get.

Another is the city of Yakima wasn't on board with the location. A zoning change would be needed to convert the old grocery store. And, the downtown spot doesn't seem to fit with the city manager's long-term vision.

"It's proximity to the core of downtown, particularly the plaza area, certainly that raises concerns," said Yakima City Manager Tony O'Rourke.

O'Rourke prefers keeping the shelter on the edge of downtown to protect property values and keep the area attractive for people.

"Sometimes the homeless people have a way of scaring people. Not that they mean to or are intentional about it, but it gets a little scary sometimes," said Patty Denson.

Another option is the old Department of Social Health Services building on Lincoln Avenue. O'Rourke says that could be viable. The old nursing home on 10th Street and MLK Boulevard isn't likely anymore because it would need extensive renovations.

The Homeless Network of Yakima County wanted to open the shelter last November. Now, it looks like it won't happen until next year at the earliest.