YAKIMA, Wash. -- Yakima businesses may have unexpected neighbors this winter. Yakima County and city officials are working together to house the homeless in an old juvenile detention building. The hope is to relocate the homeless away from Downtown Yakima.
Businesses on this block of Lincoln Avenue might have new neighbors come December 15th. This old juvenile detention building could be turned into a homeless shelter for the winter. Local business owners don't seem to mind.
"Thank goodness that there is the potential to have some resources and additional services for emergency shelter and housing,” said neighbor Cindy Maib-Robinson.
"I do think that it's very important to have one single structure that is centrally located. I think it’s going to be valuable to helping out the community and the homeless issues,” said neighbor Larry Nelson.
The work to find a place for the homeless is part of a joint effort that includes city and county agencies.
Several churches in Yakima provided shelters the last two winters, but they can't do it anymore because they're not up to fire safety codes to provide housing.
"There's a great liability on the city and we determined this year that we just don't want to do that anymore,” said City Codes Manager Joe Caruso.
Many people didn't want to express their concern about the homeless moving here on camera.
"Anytime you have this perception of homeless people, you may think that you know they're going to be bringing in additional crime that they may be bringing in, down property values or whatever it is,” said Nelson.
Yakima County is working with the Yakima Housing Authority to buy the building. They still need approval from Yakima to say it can be used for the homeless before renovations can begin.
Yakima is also willing to put up some of the money for the work.
Both Yakima County and the city plan to lease the property for the next two years before buying it. The plan is to make this a permanent emergency homeless shelter.