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Homeless advocates continue push for more options

By Meghan Packer, Reporter, MPacker@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 15 2014 04:02:03 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 15 2014 06:09:56 PM CST

People who want to see more options for Allentown's homeless are determined to find an answer.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

People who want to see more options for Allentown's homeless are determined to find an answer and they hope local government can offer a solution.

Homeless advocates want to see the city offer options to people with no place to go in the cold, including opening up buildings like city hall to let people stay inside.

They're hoping their message comes across loud and clear, but there was some frustration at a subcommittee meeting Wednesday because the whole group wasn't there.

Representatives from the Salvation Army, the Allentown Rescue Mission, and the city representatives on the subcommittee were not able to be there.

The group is dedicated to helping Allentown's homeless.

"I don't know what we're going to have to do short of waiting for someone to die," said Diane Teti, one of the people at the meeting.

"People should not be sleeping on the street anytime of the year," said The Rev. Richard Baumann, with St. Paul's Lutheran Church, which opens its doors to give people a place to sleep.

The advocates said more options are needed when it comes to where Allentown's homeless can go when it's cold. They will also look ahead to plan for the hot weather in the summer and even next winter.

"Hopefully we can get to a point with this committee to say yes, what we recommend is to open up the lobby of city hall, the lobby of the county administration building or something so when it's really into this code blue condition, people can get in out of the cold," said Dale Smith, chairman of the subcommittee. "I think what it's going to take is education of the council members as to the situation, the numbers of people that are out in the cold and being able to say, 'Yes, we want to do something about this.'

"We could hire security guards," he said during the meeting, while talking about the option of opening city buildings.

Some advocates were planning to attend Wednesday's city council meeting to speak up about the issue.

City Councilwoman Jeanette Eichenwald has said she is open to the idea of offering the use of city buildings. She said she planned to address the issue at the council meeting.